Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning Forty

If I meet my 30 year old self, what would I tell her?

Would I tell her that 2 children and 10 years later, she will be fitter, stronger and slimmer than she dreams possible? Would I tell her that every difficult choice she makes will only lead her to yet another one, but that the journey will be well worth it? Would I tell her that she’ll not recognise who she will eventually become?

I would tell her all that. And one more thing I would tell her- to cherish who she is, because she is worth being cherished.

 Flashback 2011- February

The photograph, taken on Valentine's Day never fails to remind me that while diamonds may add to a girl's charms, nothing makes a woman as beautiful as experience. This photograph forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

If I had the year over....

If I had the year over, would I have done things differently? Would I have put my foot down earlier and more firmly? Suffered fools a lot less? Would I have spent less time with that person who proved a false friend, and been more sympathetic to the one who genuinely needed me? 
Would I have abstained from ordering that takeaway that gave all of us an upset stomach?

With the benefit of hindsight, one can always do things better. But I wouldn’t really want to change too much; I am happy with the way things turned out this year. 

Flashback 2011- January
On a cold winter morning in one of the most inaccessible parts of rural India, I watched the sun go down behind a temple. As the colours faded into black and white, for a moment, I could see my entire life in stunning clarity. This photograph taken in January forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why do I Run????

[Two days after a disastrous run, I found the answer to my question.]

Two days later, I went for a pre-dawn run on the beach. Within moments of my feet hitting the sand, everything fell into place. Feet, legs, hands, breath, every part of my body knew just what to do. We were indeed born to run.

The sun rose in the sky; the beach changed from rough sand, to broken shells, to fine sand, and rough again. I could have gone on forever, but I turned back. I had found my answer. I run because running puts me in touch with my elemental self. It lets me be who I really Am.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Going up in flames

[This is a work of fiction]

My scream echoed off his retreating back. He walked away, leaving behind a hollow that was me.
I threw my memories into the fire. Photographs, and movie ticket stubs. Dried-up bouquets, and birthday cards. Chocolate wrappers, and glitzy wrapping paper. I wished I could throw myself in and let the flames engulf me. I couldn’t live without him. Wanted to join my cherished memories wherever they had gone.

I watch the candles burn. My one true love reaches out and touches my hand. I look up and smile. Would I have found him if the other one hadn’t left?
Poignant or humorous. Thought provoking or plain silly. A slice of life or a dramatic tale. Countdown to the New Year with a drabble a day, everyday only at The Burrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is beauty absolute?

“Aren’t those flowers beautiful?”, asked the son.
I looked around, but couldn’t find anything that even faintly resembled a flower. “Where? I don’t see any flowers here.”
“Look, there.”
“Where, Sweetheart? There aren’t any flowers here.”
“Are you blind or what”, he said, before taking me by the hand and dragging me to a clump of wild grass. “Now can you see the flowers?”
Yes, when you looked at it through my son’s eyes, the grass was beautiful. More beautiful than most flowers.

Can there be an absolute standard for beauty? Who decides what qualifies as beautiful, and what doesn’t?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Birthday (one day late)

[This post was scheduled for yesterday, but I was so upset all day, I just couldn't bring myself to publish it. 
Whatever else I have got from her or not, letting injustice upset me is an inheritance from my mother, and she will understand why this is a day late.]

She is the perfectionist, expecting nothing less from herself and others. I insist perfection as a concept is overrated.
She is meticulous to the point of putting everything in a list. I let things take their course, trusting they will eventually fall into place.
She drives herself crazy trying to bring order out of chaos. I thrive on chaos.

When two strong-willed individuals are as different as my mother and I, it is natural that sparks fly when we are together.
But the older I get, the more I realize how similar we actually are. Almost Sisters under the Skin.

Happy Birthday, Mamma!
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sarita! Why did she have to die?

Sarita is the daughter of illiterate migrant workers, who used to attend the informal education centre at the construction site.
Four years back, she underwent a heart surgery. A couple of days back, she developed related complications. She was operated upon yesterday, but couldn't recover and passed away.
A brilliant student, Sarita could have accomplished anything she set out to do, instead, she ended up dead. Shouldn't clean water, basic sanitation, and health care a basic entitlement? Why should Sarita have to pay with her life for the crime of being born poor?
When will things change? Will they ever?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Read Sarita's story here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Christmas

[This is a work of fiction.]
“Do you like these?”, she asked.
I nodded.
“Ask your mother to get one for you.”
I slunk away. How could I tell her that my mother was confined to a bed, dying of tuberculosis? That my father had abandoned us. That we survived only on the charity of the church. She had been fooled by my school uniform I wore- the school which I attended on scholarship.
For weeks I stayed away, but something drew me back.
She spotted me at once. “Pick one”, she said. “A gift from me to you.”
My mother’s last Christmas will be memorable.

Poignant or humorous. Thought provoking or plain silly. A slice of life or a dramatic tale. Countdown to the New Year with a drabble a day, everyday only at The Burrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

5:05 pm

[This is a work of fiction]

I sneaked a look at my watch. 4:45; still no sign of Jacob. He should have been here 15 minutes back. Normally I don't mind covering up for him, but I could not afford to be late today. I had even reminded him yesterday. Should I just leave? After all, my shift was over. Nobody can blame me for doing so. But that's not how things work in retail.
Where was Jacob? Would Mary forgive me for standing her up?

5:05. I ran through the snow. There she was-I could see her. "Papa", she squealed. "I knew you would come."
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words. Check out this story and many more on the Advent Calendar at "the Burrow".

Friday, December 16, 2011

My son, the photographer

“What does this button do?”, my eight year old asked me. I could have told him not to worry about the complicated settings on my camera, but I was in a pedantic mood and told him all I knew about apertures and shutter speeds. I was certain he wasn’t taking any of it in- how could he, when he was too young to grasp even the basic principles of optics?
Two hours later, he told me exactly how he wanted the shutter speed set. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work, but the photograph that he took is a Classic.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Setting the right goal

I gave my all in the race. Shattered a barrier I have been struggling to break for years. I should have been happy, and proud. Instead, I collapsed in a heap and burst into tears. The race had taken everything out of me, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.
Nothing had registered. Not the scenic route, not the cheerleaders, not the live bands. Nothing. All I had been aware of was my pace and the distance left to cover. Was this what I wanted?
Before you work to a goal, it’s prudent to set the right one.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


As the days grow shorter, you take up permanent residence in my memory. I remember you as you were that day. Leaning against the railing, your red and gold scarf almost skimming the water, throwing bread crumbs to the ducks, laughing at a joke only you could catch. You slipped your hands into mine, and together we watched twilight set in. “Look at the reflection”, you whispered, “so perfect you can’t tell which is real and which the illusion.” You threw the last of your breadcrumbs, and watched that picture perfect scene dissolve.

You went home and gassed yourself. Why???

Poignant or humorous. Thought provoking or plain silly. A slice of life or a dramatic tale. Countdown to the New Year with a drabble a day, everyday only at The Burrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Game we played

When we were young, there were so many games that we played. Games that didn’t require batteries, or joy-sticks. Games played outdoors with stones, sticks and chalk lines. Games with complicated rules that everyone understood.
Our kids, we claim, don’t play like we used to. We say all they want is their TV and their play-stations. But is that really so? Has the advent of electronics changed children, or is it parents who have changed?
“Mamma, can I play in the mud.”
“No, baby. It is full of germs. Why don’t you watch TV while I fix you a snack?”

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How best to climb a tree

I found my son trying to climb a tree; a shrub with branches not strong enough to support much weight. My first instinct was to scream, “what do you think you are doing, just get off that tree!” But then I remembered my childhood. Of how I would spend entire afternoons sitting on the branches of a guava tree reading a book. Of climbing a really high tree, and then getting so petrified I stayed up there till I was carried down.

I couldn’t deny my child those pleasures, could I? I taught him how best to climb the tree.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making a good impression

“What you must be thinking, I really don’t know”, she began, before launching into a long winded story about why she had been forced to leave her kids unsupervised while she ran errands. Frankly, I hadn’t even noticed, and even if I had, who am I to stand on judgement on how she chooses to conduct her life.

But to her it seemed to matter that I not think she is a bad mother.

Wonder why people spend so much time trying to make a good impression. Don’t they believe, others are too busy thinking about themselves to really care?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Childproof lids only children can open

You are woken up from your slumber by a whimpering kid. You hope it is just a nightmare, but he’s actually got fever.
You fumble with the childproof-lid. And fumble. And fumble some more.

“Mamma, my brother is crying. Do something.”
“One moment, I’m trying to open the bottle.”
“Shall I help?”
In desperation, I hand over the bottle, and he opens it. Mission accomplished, finally.

When all other syrups come with normal lids, forcing me to keep them on a shelf high out of reach, why should the relatively harmless anti-pyretic have a childproof lid only children can open?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, December 5, 2011


“… and then you know what, the shadow-ghost came up behind me, and said…”. Seeing my attention stray, my son broke off hurriedly, before accusing me, “Mamma, you are not listening to what I am saying.”
“Yes, I am listening”, I lied. “Get on with your story.”
He stamped his feet in annoyance. “It is not a story. It actually happened.”
“Yes, of course it did. I am listening. Tell me what happened next.”
“And then,……”

I wonder what kind of precedent I am setting by accepting shadow-ghosts knocking over lunch-boxes as an acceptable excuse for an uneaten school lunch?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Late Blooms

I recognized her the moment I saw her. Rita, the one person because of whom I used to dread going to school. She never actually did anything to me. No, Rita was too smart for that. But every time there was ink spilt on my beautifully written essays, or my lunch-box was accidentally knocked over, I knew who was responsible for instigating it. And here she was striding towards me.

“You have no idea who I am, do you?”, I wanted to ask her. Instead, I took the pen she offered and sprawled my name on my most recent bestseller.

Poignant or humorous. Thought provoking or plain silly. A slice of life or a dramatic tale. Countdown to the New Year with a drabble a day, everyday only at The Burrow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reason to smile

A friend and I were talking about how difficult it is to find domestic help these days. I grew up in a household where live-in full-time help was taken for granted. Today, even if you are willing to pay, you cannot find someone reliable to mind the kids for a couple of hours every day. We spoke of it like it was a bad thing- which it is, for us.
But what it actually means is that women are seeking and getting jobs better than the unskilled ones we want to employ them in. Isn’t that enough reason to smile?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Space to share

Remember all those times you were upset or angry, but kept silent? Those times when you should have articulated your thoughts, but chose not to. Either because you thought the other person should know. Or because you didn’t want to disturb the fragile peace such as there was.
Remember all those times you yelled at each other. Clinging on to your own point of view, refusing to listen to the other. Angry because the other person just wouldn’t budge.

Wouldn’t things have been much easier if you had just spoken? And listened? Sometimes all you need is space to share.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How long can the inequity last?

While we sit and debate whether or not to bite into that last piece of chocolate, there are people dying of hunger. Not people going hungry- missing a few meals, eating barely enough to sustain themselves- but people actually dying because their body no longer can sustain itself.
People in the Horn of Africa, people in Somalia, people on the street two miles from where you live.
At the same time, there is wastage. Uneaten food dumped in the garbage bin, food allowed to go bad in the refrigerator, meals ordered and left unconsumed.
How long can this inequity last?

In case you want to make a donation, every little bit helps- even a donation of $ 5 will help keep a child alive - FIGHT HUNGER! 


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