book review

A Book review : Tea with a drop of honey

Book title : Tea with a drop of honey by The Hive

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

Tea with a drop of honey is an anthology of short stories by 28 different authors so you can be assured about the variety on offer. As is the wont for The Hive, this anthology gets a smashing foreword by Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Founder & CEO, Women’s Web.

The anthology opens with a beautiful love story, Not so Parsi Love, a story of love overcoming the religious divide.

Coming to my most favourite story in this anthology, The Heimlich Manoeuvre, I loved how the author has woven a humorous situation around the national lockdown.

Another story which stayed with me is My Big Fat Punjabi Divorce, a tale of a Punjabi family putting aside their petty differences and supporting their daughter/sister. I wouldn’t want to reveal more, do read the story…

To Sculpt a dream is a story which took me back in history and the setting is magical, with a profound message hidden in it.

  Cup of Tea for the Misfit Two beautifully weaves a fairy tale-like love story around the title of the book and was entertaining.

Much Ado about nothing is an audacious and hilarious prequel to a very famous love story,by the author and she succeeds in entertaining the readers.

Raz’on de Ser is a surefire tearjerker of a love story which tugs at the heartstrings.

Table number 9 is as philosophical as they come, with some great quotes. 

The Murphy Conundrum surprised me with a mixture of genres and leaves you with a feel good feeling at the end.

The other stories are entertaining too and you must read Tea with a drop of honey to know still more hidden gems.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Marriages or…mirages

First posted on #ArtoonsInn

The enticing aroma of coffee wafted across CCD, as l lost myself in the dreamy eyes of my wife, Priya. The hint of a smile curling her face was too alluring as i reached for her soft palms to take them in mine. 

Just then our order arrived and we untangled our hands in a hurry. As i  reached for the egg wrap, Priya rapped me on my knuckles. She picked up the egg wrap and lovingly extended her hand towards my mouth. Closing my eyes, I elongated my neck, imagining the egg melting in my mouth when…

“What are you doing, Rohit? Pay attention! I am already late for the office. Rotate the chapaati properly on the tava. It should nicely fill up with air, otherwise it will harden by lunch time”, she admonished.

As usual, I was day dreaming, mistaking a chappati being transferred on to the skillet, with an egg wrap being deposited into my mouth. And as usual the bai making the morning chappatis had taken a ‘sick’ leave leaving us with no other option. 

It was a nice and fluffy bed with soft pillows filled with feathers. A giggling, bubbling Priya started a pillow fight with me. She picked up the soft pillow and like a lithe shot putter, flung it at me…I grabbed at it and promptly deposited my shirt…yes, my shirt into the washing tub. 

Was I caught day dreaming again? “Rohit! I think there are 12 clothes. Take a spoonful of washing powder, it should be enough.”

“Hoy, Maharani!”, I said in jest. In reply, she threw another shirt at me to dip in the frothing tub.

Yes, i am sure you must have gathered by now that I love helping my wife in domestic duties. Or rather, the options have run out.

It wasn’t always so. 

When I was but a child, watching the weekly movie at the neighbour’s, I was enamoured by the love life of a film hero, who broke into a boisterous song or two, on spotting the cycle riding, shyly smiling heroine, always accompanied by a gaggle of giggling friends.

When they managed to get rid of those irritating friends, they ended up in a flower garden, dancing and running around umpteenth trees. I could never understand how two neighbouring flowers managed to caress each other whenever the hero,with a silly smile pasted on his face, got anywhere near the heroine.

After facing many childish obstacles, when they finally pranced hand in hand towards the sunset, the child in me was flushed with joy. That night, I used to dream of myself in the hero’s shoes. 

But the lie was exposed, and how. After the initial passionate flush of married life, I finally understood that a marriage is built from the building blocks of daily chores and mutual understanding to achieve those necessary tasks to keep the marriage engine running.

There! I have spoilt the romantic notions of a few unmarried individuals.

Fiction, Mystery

A court case… fiction

First shared on #ArtoonsInn

It was time. Soon the courtroom clerk would come to me, open my arms with a creak, which has developed over a period of time, and withdraw the required documents from my belly.

From the time, many years back, when I was brought here fresh from the Godrej factory, I have hardly moved from the corner. But this corner offers me a vantage point and an uninterrupted view of the entire shenanigans which go on, inside this spacious though dark room, in the name of justice. So what if my legs are wobbly over a period of time.

Slowly people started filing in. The case had been in the news once again since the last few months, and not without reason.

Mr. Sinha, the state prosecutor started, “Mr. Prakhar Singh stands accused of murdering his wife, the late Mrs. Sheeladevi, 17 years back and Mr. Salil Singh, his son is the sole witness to the vile murder.”

“I would now like to call, Mr. Salil Singh to the witness box.”, Mr. Sinha continued.

The judge, Mr. Harbhajan Singh granted him permission.

“Mr. Salil Singh, you have accused your biological father of the grimmest crime. What do you have to say?”, queried the state prosecutor.

I could see, all eyes in the courtroom following the young Mr. Salil, as he stared at his father for a long time.

Then turning towards the judge, he said, “Your honour, my father is a murderer. He murdered my mother as she was planning to leave him, tired of his continuous beatings. She had made all arrangements, but…”

“Objection, Your Honour.”, Mr. Shivdasani, the defence lawyer interrupted. Though small in stature, his hawk-like features and the baritone granted gravitas to his personality. Even the Judge was in awe of this cunning man.

“This young man is accusing my client without any proof. He has already grabbed the ancestral property from his father with the help of some unscrupulous relatives, but it is not enough. He now wants to totally destroy my clients name, nay, finish him off totally. if you grant permission, I would like to cross examine him”

“Objection granted, please proceed.”, the Judge acquiesced.

“Mr. Salil, you accuse your father of the most heinious crime, the murder of your mother, Mrs. Sheeladevi who disappeared 17 years back. Did you not yourself say that she was planning to leave him, due to the alleged continuous beatings by your father?”, said the defence lawyer, as he moved towards the witness box.

“Mr. Salil, may I ask you your age.”

“I am 20 years old, Sir.”, replied Salil.

“Please note, Sir”, Mr. Shivdasani addressed the judge.

“20 years old. Which means, you were just 3 years old when this occurred. Mr. Sheeladevi abandoned you, her only child, due to some alleged beatings which were never proved. For all you know, she must be in the US of A, enjoying herself, married to some American. And your father took care of you and raised you till you connived with your mother’s brother to grab the property and drove out your father.”

A gasp went round the court, as people started talking amongst themselves. Even I was confused; who was speaking the truth and who was lying. But Mr. Salil himself looked at peace with himself.

“Sir, I am not accusing my father now, after all these years. When I was a three year old boy I had said, ‘Baba thho…thho maa’, but I couldn’t do anything else at that time…”

As Salil said this, I was transported to the past, in these very premises, when a small boy was crying and saying, “Thho…thho, Baba thho…thho maa’, but nothing could be proved.

Mrs. Sheeladevi’s disappearence was a much talked about subject that time. Her brother, Ramniranjan, had accused Mr. Prakhar Singh of killing his sister. His accusations were based on the complaints of regular beatings from his sister and of course, the accusation by Salil.

Prakhar Singh maintained that she had simply left the house and disappeared.

Her empty purse had been found in the garbage bin outside their house, empty. Their car had been found in the city airport parking lot. But after a long trial, with Mrs. Sheeladevi still missing, the case went unsolved and was closed due to lack of evidence.

Suddenly a hand entered my belly and I was brought to the present.

“When I was a three year old boy, I had cried ‘Baba shot maa’ but I couldn’t do anything else. But there is a new development due to which I am now determined to see the harshest punishment for this man, I regret he is my biological father”, Salil said, his eyes watering up.

“Cut out the emotional blackmail, Mr. Salil. Whatever it is, place the facts before the court, don’t waste everyone’s time.”, the defence lawyer exclaimed.

“6 months back, I decided to renovate the ancestral home. After finishing the interiors, I started the re-construction of the swimming pool. It was emptied out, the tiling was removed, the digging started and…and…”, and Salil went silent.

“My Lord, the accuser is now certainly wasting our precious time. Mr. Salil, why are you bent on taking us through this convoluted construction process. Please come to the point”, Mr. Shivdasani thundered.

“And I found human remains.” A hush descended on the room. Suddenly all went quiet. I could see sweat running down the temples of Mr. Prakhar.

“I called my uncle and told him, ‘Mama, I think I might have found my mom.’

A flustered defence lawyer was combative, “Isn’t it your ancestral property? Isn’t your clan one of the martial clans of India? The human remains could have been any of the past enemies of your clan. We are not here to try your long dead ancestors, are we?”

“Objection, your honour.” Now it was the turn of the State Prosecutor.

“My learned friend is not letting my client speak. He is interrupting at an important juncture.” Mr. Sinha, who had been an observer for quite a while, was now suddenly active.

“I would now like to cross examine Dr. Rebello.”

I couldn’t understand the role of a Doctor or his significance to the case at hand. All the documents held in my belly did not add anything of value to my thinking. Neither my presence in the court for such a huge period of time has given me any inkling of how a lawyer’s mind works.

So here I was, just an observer to the proceedings. Just like so many others who were not so handicapped.

Dr. Rebello, though an old person with shaking hands, seemed jovial. When prompted for his name, he replied, “The name is Rebello, Julio Rebello”. Perhaps a fan of Bond, James Bond.

“And what is your area of expertise, Doctor?”, asked the state prosecutor.

“A Forensic Pathologist and Anthropologist. A Forensic Pathologist is one who studies the dead and the reasons they die. While a Forensic Anthropologist is one who works with skeletons and decomposed human remains and analyses the remains to get information about the victim and the cause death…”, the Doctor would have gone on and on, but was rudely interrupted by Mr. Shivdasani.

“I object, your honour. With all due respect, the honourable state prosecutor is doing everything to delay proceedings by bringing in witnesses who ramble on without reaching any conclusion”, he thundered.

“Objection overruled!”, for once the Judge overcame his admiration of the defence lawyer and asked the public prosecutor to continue.

“Doctor, please stick to the questions being asked and please reply to the point. We have spent enough time in this profession and know the difference between a Forensic Pathologist and an Anthropologist. So what do you have to say about the skeleton found in the property of Mr. Salil and which was brought to you by the Police?”, asked the State Prosecutor.

This time the Doctor did not waste any time and answered, “The skeleton was of a female who died in her young age, about 25-30 years old, she had already given birth before she died, she had been shot through her head and all this had occurred between 15-20 years back.” Everyone sat back as they processed this information given at breakneck speed.

“Whoa, whoa, Doctor you went too fast this time. I agree all these details can be determined by your fraternity but that she had already given birth before her death…I mean, do you take us to be fools”, who else, Mr. Shivdasani questioned.

His booming baritone did not have any effect on the Doctor who replied with a straight face, “You have put me in a quandary. If I agree with you, I will be put in jail for contempt of court, but if I disagree, I would be committing perjury.”

The court erupted in laughter at this quip from the Doctor. “Order, Order!”, I saw the judge indulge in his favourite dialogue and saw him hammering the gavel. Oh, how I envy Mr. Gavel, who is much more actively involved in the court proceedings!

The good Doctor then proceeded to enlighten, “When a woman gives birth, her pelvis is dilated. And this is how I deduced that the skeleton was of a woman who had given birth before she had been murdered.”

“Ok, this is all very well, but how does this prove that the skeleton was of Mrs. Sheeladevi? The court accepts nothing but proof to convict someone”, the defence lawyer was still defiant. For once, I agreed with the cunning lawyer.

“Yes, you are right. I cannot say whether it was the skeleton of Mrs. Sheeladevi or not”, the Doctor went silent, for once.

“Don’t worry, Sir. My next witness is the Forensic scientist, Dr. Paneerselvam.” The State Prosecutor was now in full flow.

I was now totally immersed in this case.

“Dr. Paneerselvam! What have you deduced on this case”, the prosecutor asked.

“Sir, I extracted the DNA from the tooth of the skeleton. I processed it and I took a comparative DNA sample from Mr. Salil here. There was a hundred percent match.”

“That’s it, My Lord. That conclusively proves that the accused, Mr. Prakhar Singh is guilty of murdering his wife, the mother of his son. Her only crime was to think of leaving him, of escaping his daily beatings and think of building a new life for herself. He deserves the strictest punishment, he should be hanged until death.” So saying, the State Prosecutor occupied his seat.

Happy that now justice will be served, I was keenly observing the judge, when that man, Mr. Shivdasani thundered, “Ok, it seems it is certainly proved that Mrs. Sheeladevi was murdered, but it doesn’t at all prove that my client, Mr. Prakhar did it. Where is the proof and the court accepts only proof before convicting any accused.”

Considering Mr. Shivdasani’s reputation, I was ready for this legal battle to drag on for days, when, “It’s alright, Mr. Shivdasani. You have fought well but I am now tired.”

Trying to understand who was talking, I saw Mr. Prakhar Singh getting up.

“Please come into the box, Mr. Prakhar.”

“Yes, it is true that I killed her. Yes, I did it in a fit of rage. I loved her, I wanted to possess her but she…she wanted to leave. And she never told me. When I came to know, I confronted her but she was adamant. I lost my cool, I shot her in front of Salil…I am sorry, Salil.”

That day, I was convinced, ‘Sins can be buried away but can never be forgotten’.

***

Authors note –

  1. Inspired from real incident.
  2. No laws referred
  3. Court functioning mostly sourced from Bollywood movies.
  4. Few legal terms Googled.
  5. Doctor’s joke googled.
  6. Written from the point of view of a cupboard, always seen in the background in any filmy court
Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

The feast

First published on #ArtoonsInn

The phone rang shrilly disturbing the Saturday afternoon siesta of Mr. and Mrs. Braganza. The Mrs. answered.

“Hello…oh hi, Maria. How are you?…Oh, a feast. So nice of you…yes, yes, we will certainly come tomorrow.”

“Who was it, Julia?”, asked Tony or Mr. Braganza.

“Mrs. Robinson has planned a feast tomorrow noon. She has invited us.”

“Sure. We will go”, Tony stretched as he yawned. Then added, “But Mr. Robinson is not seen since yesterday. Is he there tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. Even I was wondering”, replied Julia.

“Who else has she invited? If it’s a feast, there would be more invitees.”

“Yes, there would be, of course. But I didn’t ask.”

Then with a twinkle in her eyes, added “I hope she treats us to her pork preparation…or Kheema. Yummy”.

“Stop it, will you. You are making me hungry already.”, Tony admonished his wife playfully.

“Evening, I am going to Seb’s home. Will be back by 9.00-9.30.”

“You and Sebastian. Two sides of the same coin. A coin which guzzles alcohol. Can’t you control your urges on atleast one Saturday?”, and then added, “Spend atleast one Saturday evening with me, Mr. Braganza. See how I keep you entertained.”

Tony pushed her away. Nothing ever came between him, Seb and the Saturday evening bottle.

Most Saturday’s, once Tony left for Seb’s home, Julia rushed to her rendevous with her paramour. She tried to reach him but his phone was switched off.

—-

Mrs. Robinson woke up early on Sunday. A few select family friends were invited for lunch and she had no help in arranging everything. She desired no help.

Bad luck, Rem, her husband, was going to miss this feast.

The previous evening she had arranged the finest wine from the neighborhood brewery. The friends loved the Kheema (mincemeat) and she was not going to disappoint them.

She decided to have her bath later, once she had prepared the mutton dishes. As she took out the meat from the deep freezer, she remembered her husband’s love for her cooking, the way he slurped his fingers like a child. The image brought a smile to her face. So sad, he was going to miss this feast.

She stripped the meat from the bones, her hands shaking with the effort. Most of the meat went into the grinder which strained with the effort. But Julia loved her pieces and some were saved for her.

Mixing the masalas, she cooked up a delicious menu in a trance. In two hours she was done, sweating profusely.

Time for the bath. She indulged herself in the bathtub, scrubbing her hands vigorously with the scrubber and soap. She didn’t want herself to smell of meat in front of her guests.

Finally, with dollops of makeup, she was ready to face her guests.

The doorbell rang. It was the Fernandes’ couple. The customary air kisses were exchanged.

The Pinto’s were the next to arrive followed by the Braganza’s.

Then Maria, aka Mrs. Robinson, started her welcome speech.

“Welcome everyone. First of all I thank you, for keeping everything aside and honouring me with your presence…”

Julia intervened, “Oh, Maria, no one in their right senses would miss your culinary delights. Don’t worry, we are here for our selfish interests”, and the house dissolved into a bout of boisterous laughter.

“Hey, but we are certainly missing that scoundrel, Rem. Where has he gone into hiding”, asked Mr. Pinto.

“Oh, did I not tell you. He had to go to Mumbai for some urgent office work on Friday morning. I spoke to him yesterday, he should be back tomorrow evening. But don’t worry about him, he asked me to go ahead with this feast. He said, he would be there with us in spirit.” Then Maria added, a smile lining her eyes, “You know, of the liquid kind”.

“Naughty boy. Let me call him.” Charles Fernandez fished out his phone.

“Switched off. I tell you Maria, he is upto no good. Are you sure he is on official duty? Smells more like an affair, doesn’t it Tony?”

Tony guffawed loudly as he jokingly reprimanded Charles, “Charlie boy. Do you want to be thrown out of the house? Accusing the owner of the house of dirty deeds, you scoundrel. Say sorry to the high command.”

“Oh, sorry Mrs. Robinson. Not a word out of me now, no bad mouthing Rem. Now I will do that only after partaking the feast which you have conjured up for us.”, and so the banter continued till it was lunch time.

At the lunch table, the couples sat near each other. An empty wine glass, placed near the plates, gave an inkling of the spirit to follow a sumptuous meal. The aroma of the Kheema was already wafting from the kitchen, permeating their senses.

“Umm, Maria…my stomach is full, just the aroma is enough”, said Julia.

“Oh, no, no. That will certainly not do, my friend. All this effort is for you”, smiled Maria.

“But why are you standing, Maria. Join us.”

“I always fast on a Sunday. Don’t worry about me. I would be satiated once you have had your fill”, Maria answered.

“Not fair. We forgot. You should not have kept the Feast on a Sunday.”

But soon, everyone was feasting on the sumptuous Kheema spread. Oh, how Maria loved those slurping sounds made by her guests.

“Move over Tony. I am going to feed my friend Julia, some of the best mutton pieces.”

And she just pushed Tony out of his seat. Everyone laughed as Maria occupied the neighbouring chair and started feeding Julia.

Everyone cheered as one mutton piece disappeared followed by the next.

Suddenly Maria’s feeding took in a violent frenzy. She was now force feeding Julia.

“Eat…eat him. Eat Rem. Don’t you like it. I am serving your lover to you on a platter. Isn’t he tasty enough?”, she screamed as the guests started vomiting one after the other.

humour

A ‘fart’ful life

The useful farts

In your childhood you indulged in them shamelessly and obnoxiously, without a care in the world. Some naughty friends held competitions; who managed it the loudest, with various permutations and combinations. 

As you grew older you learnt to hold them in, as society pressure overwhelmed all other pressures of the internal kind. However you weren’t always successfu, as they found escape velocity. If they didn’t make a noise, they announced themselves with a degree of pungency, leaving you with no place to hide. 

If there were more than two people in the room, at least you could put it on the next person. But all suffered equally though the originator suffered the least. Because he knew where it came from.

The generator was always ridiculed and the habitual one was derided and scorned at. The only safe place was his home, and the better half complained futilely. She had to bear the brunt of a few smelly, loud ones.

But guys, you no longer need to hide. Because research has proven that farts are good for your health. Now you can proudly do the needful as they help avoid cell inflammation making them live longer.

Hydrogen sulphide, that foul smelling fart gas, is naturally produced in the body, which could be a healthcare hero having significant implications in future therapies for a variety of diseases; or so says the research.

Of course, farts don’t cure cancer but are certainly good for your overall health.

So the next time, the wife complains, let her know this secret of your long, smelly life. 

Which proves that, not all research is useless. Sometimes it does throw up some funny, loud and smelly surprises. (But who thought of doing this study in the first place…)

Yatindra Tawde

Fiction

A story on Christmas eve

First shared on #ArtoonsInn

A most selfish girl


In the town of Costashire, lived little Rimona with her parents Richard and Mona.
Richard, the Duke and the Duchess loved their little Rimona and spoilt her silly with innumerable presents.
All the attention went to little Rimona’s head and she turned into a most selfish child.
She thought everything belonged to her.


Every Christmas she wished for the most exotic presents and every Christmas Santa was generous enough to grant her every wish. But he decided that something had to be done about her selfishness.


But how?


This year Rimona wanted to meet Santa himself as her Christmas gift. Santa informed Rimona’s father that he would meet her but she would have to come to the north pole by his reindeer pulled sleigh.


The happy day arrived. Rimona dressed in a flowery lily white dress and sat in the sleigh.
Rimona took in the sights and sounds of the journey with wonder in her eyes.


She saw a boy happily working on a bench with his carpenter father. The tools were old and he had to work hard to shape the wood.


She saw a girl selling flowers in the market, her clothes were torn and a smile adorned her beautiful face.


She saw twins outside a bakery, looking longingly at the decorated cakes inside. They were surely hungry but they walked away.


As she neared the pole, she saw a child freezing in the cold, as it’s mother held it to her bosom.


At the end of the journey, Rimona met Santa happily and asked for her goodies.


On her return journey she had made new friends, for they had met a child Santa.


“Papa, giving gave me more joy than receiving. Thank you for my greatest gift.”, and she planted a kiss on her happy parents cheeks.


Fiction, humour

Rattled

First posted on #ArtoonsInn…

The clock struck twelve. The repeated hammering of the ancient gong dislogded timid Tony from his hiding place in the clock and in his hurry, he fell right into the path of Mrs. Batliwala. She screamed in terror, let go of the bone china bowl of hot soup and gave out a blood curdling scream. 

The shrill scream reverberated in Tony’s ears and he tried to scamper away and found the nearest dark recess to hide himself. Unfortunately it turned out to be the ample pyjamas of old Mr. Batliwala who jumped up from the rocking chair in fright. The beer glass toppled over, Mr. Batliwala pushed against the wooden table and lost his balance. As he fell backwards, Tony struggled to break free of the pyjamas and just managed to avoid getting squashed under the ample bottom of Mr. Batliwala.

Timid Tony rushed to his hideout, the drainage pipe just outside the verandah of the Batliwala’s. This part of the neighborhood was the haunt of Dirty Purry, the evil feline. But the noon wasn’t the bread earning hour of Dirty Purry, hence Tony was safe for now. Safe with his family, whom he had settled inside.

“What did you get for lunch, you good for nothing fellow?”, screamed a shrewish Mrs. Tony.

“I…I…I…” squeaked poor Tony.

“What I…I…I… you are just not cut out for the man race. My parents ruined my life by marrying me off to a nincompoop like you. And me…how the hell did I fall for your sqeaky clean image?” She continued to stare at her husband scornfully.

“Learn something from your brother, Rancid Ronny. Such a foul smelling fellow living in the old neighborhood of the gutters. But see, he hasn’t failed to feed his equally caustic wife, Rita during his entire lifetime.” Mrs. Tony was in a belligerent mood tonight.

“And look at you. No capacity to get some cheese in the pipe but can’t control the carnal urges! Who the hell will feed these 21 twintuplets?”

As if on cue, all the twintuplets started singing a high pitched song of hunger. “Squee…squee”, they cried out in unison.

Unable to bear it any longer, Tony pressed his ears with his forelimbs, then held his head while closing his eyes tightly.

“Yes, I knew that. You will now feign depression. Don’t you know, the great Woman says that there is no such thing as depression. Mental health issues are all hocus-pocus. Everyone wants to run their own shop and so do you.

“Here, take this bamboo strip and discipline your hyperactive brood. While I go out and do what is needed to feed them”. Mrs. Tony was quite egoistic about her ability to subdue her hubby and provide for the family.

Tony watched her retreating form and heaved a sign of relief. Once she was out of sight, he jiggled his tiny bottom and stretched out beside his brood of twintuplets.

Soon, he was assured of something to eat.

Uncategorized

The path to recovery

First written on #ArtoonsInn…

Bhumi stood before the crowded hall, her eyes burning with defiance. The cross questioning had gone on for long but she refused to budge. It was as if the whole league had gone against her desparate action plan. 

Finally Kamalodbhava got up from his throne, fuming in anger. A part of his creation was facing unprecedented danger and he could not just sit back. He was surprised that it was the docile Bhumi, who had lost her composure.

“Bhumi!” He thundered. The hall went quiet, the sisters of Bhumi stared wide eyed at the fiery Kamalodbhava. 

“Bhumi, this cannot go on any longer. You cannot just take out your frustrations on your own children. They have every right to take advantage of your sustaining power.” Kamalodbhava’s eyes bore into Bhumi’s looking for a glimmer of surrender.

Bhumi stared back at Kamalodbhava.

“Answer me Bhumi.” Kamalodbhava uttered these words with an authoritative tone.

Bhumi rose from her seat. Her blue eyes combined with the blue garment, embellished by a white wavy pattern, stood her out from the crowd. 

“Surajyeshtya! I know I am being made into some sort of a monster but please understand my plight.” Bhumi was ready to defend herself.

“Surajyeshtya! You know that the Manus have been my most favoured children. Right from their childhood I have admired their ability to learn. While my other children like the Vyaghras, the Gajas, who are so majestic and the Mayuras, the Hamsas who are beautiful; they all stuck to a routine, living life only to eat, procreate and die.” 

The sisters knew that Bhumi was passionate about all her children, while they had none to call her own. It was no secret that a few of them like Mangala and Shanini were jealous of Bhumi. Shanini wore beautiful drapes, which formed a halo around her and she would have been the cynosure of all eyes in the Mandala, if only Bhumi had not grown into a graceful, blue-eyed beauty. 

Mangala had lost all her children due to the utter foolishness of one of them, whom she had banished. This child had managed to seek refuge with Bhumi in her young age but it was rumoured that he had been a bad influence on the Manus. It’s another matter that Mangala’s child escaped from Bhumi’s Adobe as well.

“Surajyeshtya! You will say that I spoilt the Manus, I indulged them.” Bhumi was almost pleading.

“But who wouldn’t? See the speed at which they progressed. Weren’t they the only ones to tame Agni? Weren’t they the only ones to increase their speed manifold? Within no time they had progressed from an ox cart to the fast vehicles of today.” 

Suddenly her countenance turned steely. “I should have known then itself, when Manus used and abused their brothers and sisters for their own selfishness, for their…but no, I was blind with love for my Manus.”

“But Bhumi, don’t your other children eat each other? So how are Manus any different”, Kamalodbhava interrupted her.

With a helpless smile, Bhumi answered, “Yes, I satisfied myself with this very logic. But now I realise that while the others eat their brethren, they do it only for satisfying their hunger; Manus eat and kill wantonly…for pleasure.”

Now tears were streaming down her cheeks. Everyone sat, avoiding eye contact with her.  

Bhumi continued, “In the years gone by, they looked at me for sustenance. The green, docile Vrikshas provided them with their vital pranvayu; whenever needed Manus used to clear the Vrikshas but were careful to settle them in nearby areas. I never realised when they stopped settling the poor Vrikshas in other places and started the aridification. This in turn wiped out many of my children.”

“And then they violated my very body to reach at the tailadrava, the drills hammered away, shaking me up to the very core.” Her voice choked up as she remembered the violations. 

She continued between violent sobs, “And they used the tailadrava in the most reprehensible way; with most Vrikshas already history, the tailadrava’s misuse resulted in increased poison which killed more of my other children.”

As the entire hall listened to her in rapt attention she continued passionately, “Using the tailadrava to make abhigatya, their most heinous product, they had gone too far. One day it will kill me, Surajyeshtya! I don’t want to die. Too many of my other children are still dependent upon me to let that happen.”

Though his most favourite creation, the Manus, were in danger of being wiped off, Kamalodbhava was getting influenced by Bhumi’s strong logic.

Suddenly she declared, “Ok, Surajyeshtya! I can still forgive the Manus, they were my favourite too. But they have to change their ways. I am sure they won’t do it on their own because my past warnings have gone unheeded. 

“The vishanu I have released, it was always there with me for many years, the Manus themselves helped release it from its heem confines, and now it is devouring them. Mind you, Surajyeshtya! It is not poisonous for any of my other children. 

“Now Manus can only survive by making lifestyle changes, they cannot stay in huge groups together, they have to spend maximum time within the confines of their abodes, majority of their time will be spent in curing themselves till they find the antidote, which I am sure they will. Surajyeshtya, you have certainly given them a big advantage in their heads; it’s a pity that they hardly use it productively. But by the time they find the antidote, I am sure to heal myself for the benefit of my other children. Already, I have started feeling better, my other children have a twinkle in their eyes, they are roaming about freely even in the ghettos of the Manus…”, Bhumi’s voice trailed off, a smile finally lighting up her face.

Kamalodbhava was now fully convinced and he granted a mandate to Bhumi to stick to the path charted by herself.

—-

Glossary :

Bhumi – Mother Earth

Kamalodbhava – A name of Lord Brahma

Surajyeshtya – another name of Lord Brahma

Mangala – Mars

Shanini – Saturn

Manus – Human race

Vyaghras – Tigers

Gajas – Elephants

Mayuras – Peacocks

Hamsas – Swans

Vrikshas – Trees

Tailadrava – Oil

Abhigatya – plastic

Vishanu – virus

Heem – ice or snow

humour

Superpowered life

First written on @#ArtoonsInn…

I woke up one day and was zapped that my left eye was fluttering. Mind you, it was just the left eye and the right one was blinking like usual. Suddenly I remembered my guru.

My guru, Shri Baburao, snorted hard through his one nostril while jamming shut the other one, his snot flying through the air towards me. Me, being his ardent devotee, had ungrudgingly accepted the divine gift and let it fall on my palms and eagerly waited for his blessings. He had blessed me with his divine vision and declared that the day I wake up with my left eye fluttering, I would have a superpower whose nature I would discover during the course of time.

So here I was, with my fluttering left eye, trying to understand my superpower. But first, as advised by Shri Baburao, I rushed to the cupboard to dress myself in red track pants and brown baniyan for that was to be my attire from now on. And though apprehensive, I followed his next advice to a Tee. I fished out my blue underwear and wore it over the track pants and observed myself from all angles in the mirror. To my horror, I found that the underwear was torn on the backside. Though this mishap was invisible to others with my normal clothing in public, I was dead sure that it would not be socially acceptable with my current attire. With a heavy heart, I made the unfortunate decision to replace the blue one with a yellow one, thus deviating from my Guru’s strict decree.

Now I was ready to face the world. But before that, I wanted to check the effect of my superpower on my cat, Priyamvada, who was sleeping in the hall.

I stepped into the hall. Priyamvada was having his bath cum yoga, but as soon as he saw me, he froze, with his bristled tongue hanging out. In the next moment, he bounced with his hair standing on end, and as soon as he landed back on the floor, he gave out a blood curdling combination of screeches and yowls and flew out of the window. I had been told that animals detect things which are beyond the understanding of mere mortals and Priyamvada’s robust reaction assured me about my superpower. So I decided to step out and opened my apartment door.

Old Mrs. Municipaltiwala coincidently had the same idea and we opened the respective doors simultaneously.

“Dikra, what happened to Priyam…”, but before she could continue, her eyes took in my divine, cosmic sight. Overcome with ecstasy, she swooned to the floor.

That gave me much confidence to face the world and I entered the lift. I did reflect on directly jumping out of the window due to my superpower but hesitated. Though Priyamvada and Mrs. Municipaltiwala had given the right vibes, I thought of taking careful steps into my superpowered life.

Afterall, I am quite a sorted person.

Yatindra Tawde