Sleeping Beauty Back To Sleep

Once upon a time a beautiful princess fell asleep for a hundred years on touching a spindle, pursuant to a wicked fairy’s curse. Her fairy godmother, who had blessed her with an enchantment that she shall be revived to life on arrival of her true love, put the entire castle to sleep and hid the castle behind a thickening trees. A hundred years later, a handsome young prince braved the dense forests to discover a beautiful castle. He then reached a room where a beautiful princess lay asleep on magnificent bed. Smitten by her immense beauty he walked towards her and then kneeling down he kissed the princess. As their lips touched, the princess was brought back to life from the clutches of slumber.

The princess opened her eyes to see a well built prince in front of her and then she shrieked in horror, “My true love can never be a man with a stubble, I hate that unclean stubble.” In the very same moment she collapsed back to sleep.

As this news reached  the reawakened King and Queen, they were grief stricken.  The prince burdened with guilt, cleaned off his stubble and kissed the princess again, however she never opened her eyes. The King forbade any individual in the kingdom to keep a stubble. Every girl was raised bearing in mind the horrifying tale of the somnolent stubble that failed a fairy’s magic and put the princess in such deep a sleep that she could never be rekindled again. Thus no woman ever fell in love with a man with an unclean stubble.

This post is a part of Protest Against Unclean Stubble in association with Blogadda.    

I am accepting Anita’s tag and writing this post in response to the same.

Protest Against Unclean Stubble Activity in association with BlogAdda.

The Insatiable Wish

“Well?”, uttered an anxious Pakhi, as her brother entered in her room.

“Mom’s expecting you downstairs.”, replied Dhruv.

“And there was no one else to let me know of that?”, she questioned back.

“Let’s just say, I volunteered.”, he bantered.

“Really?”, she questioned again.

“Okay, you remember that annoying aunt of Naina, the one from Sahnewal who keeps on probing into our married life;  I caught her looking at me while I was talking to Arnav.  As soon as she started walking towards me, I turned around and came to see you.”, replied Dhruv who was gazing at his sight in the mirror.

“Didn’t we have a conversation where you promised that you will behave in a civil manner at my wedding.”, asked Pakhi, annoyed at his lack of chivalry.

“And I am keeping it, ain’t I?”, he wittily remarked pretending to be oblivious of her concerns.

“Forget it, I have better things to do than preach you today.” said Pakhi,  shoving him aside so as to grasp the image of her as a bride.

“Yeah, you have bigger fish to fry.”, he commented.

“Quite the choice of phrase. So what am I getting as a parting gift?” she asked him, her gaze shifted towards him.

Dhruv stood beside her and looking at their grinning reflection, replied, “You do realize that this is not a Tanishq advertisement where I take out a pair of dazzling earrings and hand it out to you. Plus after the fortune that you have made us spend on this fancy wedding of yours, I think the only thing in order is a thank you.”

“This is nothing compared to the destination wedding you promised me at Udaipur.”, she reminded him of a trivial promise he had once made to her.

“Here we go again, Pakhi Mehra, the perpetual victim.”, he retorted and chuckled thinking of all the names he had called her.

“Yes, Dhruv Mehra with his penchant for wry humor.”, she reciprocated, wondering if she will ever be able to match his wit.

“But honestly, you take any given excuse to whine.”, he said.

“You do realize that I am whining for the last time in front of you.”, she pointed out. A subtle reminder of the separation that ensues her wedding.

“Why, are you going to pass on to the higher abode?”, he mindlessly bantered, evading the turn the conversation of about to take

“You are impossible.”, she answered peeved at his flippancy.

“We live in the 21st century. You can call, text, skype, whatsapp or you can come over. “, he stated.

“Seriously you haven’t bought a gift for me?”, she  inquired again, and thus camouflaging the insecurities looming in the back of her mind.

Supporting her attempt to digress from the subject, he replied, “None that I know of. “. He shifted his attention to his beeping phone, a text from his wife Naina. He then looked up and said, “Mom is kind of waiting for you downstairs, I think we should go.”

“Okay. How do I look?”, she quizzed, as she stood up from her bed and straightened her lehanga, the last-minute apprehensions piping in.

“All right, could have eased up on the blusher though.”, he quirked.

“Stop annoying me Bhaiya or I am going to throw you off the balcony.”, she muttered and thought that there was no count of the number of times she must have said the same sentence.

“No regard of an honest man.”, he said, flashing a grin at her.

She held his hand tightly and walked out of the room; as they were coming down off the stairs he meaningfully glanced at her and articulated, “You know you can help make my dream come true.”

“Which one, are we talking about?”,  asked a clueless Pakhi.

“The one in which I help you flee from your wedding.”, he responded, reminiscing a nightmare he saw in his late teens.

“Need I remind you, that was because Mom and Dad were forcing me into the marriage and the groom looked hideous. None of which hold true in the context of this wedding.”, she said.

“Well, your insanity is forcing you to get married. Those regressive daily soaps have more or less deluded your mind in favor of marriage.”, he said poking fun at her obsession of television.

“I am not deluded, I love him. And marriage is the obvious progression of love.”, she confidently enunciated.

“Exactly my point, deluded! Besides this fellow Arnav is not quite a stunner.”, he said.

“He is brilliant and shut your mouth. I don’t want to be pictured as a bride with a frown.”, she retaliated.

“But isn’t that your natural expression, you have never smiled, not even as a child. Your pediatrician told us you would never be able to smile.”, he ironically remarked.

“That’s a really sad joke with no shred of truth in it.”, she told him. She sensed the tears welling in her eyes and started walking briskly towards the shamiyana letting go off his hand.

Dhruv fastened his pace, grasping her hand again he stated, “Wait, I am sorry. Besides no one likes a rushing bride as well.”

He probed deep in her eyes and said, “You remember the one thing I always told you. That you are my most precious belonging in this life. I just want you to know that you will always be.”

“I know.”, she said, a tear falling off her eyes.

He wiped the tear with his finger and then mockingly wrinkled at the little make up he caught off her face. He then took out a small jewellery box from his pocket and placed it in her possession. As she opened the box, he said, “I know you wanted a phone but Mom wanted me to stick to something conventional.”

“I love this, it’s the most gorgeous gift you have ever given me.”, she uttered, mesmerized at the pendant within the box.

He again reached out to his pocket and produced a phone. Waving it into the air, he queried, “So I should return this phone, right?”

She snatched the phone from him and hugged him tightly. She said, “Bhaiya, you are unbelievable. I love you. You know that I would have loved you even without these fancy presents. ”

“I just wanted to send you off happily. And to mark the moment, to give you something to remind you of this time, of us together.”, he told her. He then held her face in his hands and kissed her on the forehead.

In that fraction of a second, both simultaneously wondered that how delightful would it have been if holding time was in their prowess.

What about you, have you ever wanted to put a stop on the ticking clock?

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A Mother’s Peculiar Dilemma

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Arohi has just been back from her daughter Yashvi’s school. It was the day that every child dreads, the day of Parents Teachers Meeting but since Yashvi stood first in the class she had nothing to be intimidated about. Sadly, Arohi’s reaction has been the exact opposite of what Yashvi had imagined. Like every other year, Yashvi stood first in the class and like every other year her mother had been anything but annoyed to hear the verbal applause her teachers had bestowed upon her.

Arohi instructs Yashvi to go watch television while she rests a little, an obedient Yashvi hops onto the couch and puts on the National Geographic channel. A sight, which strangely, makes Arohi frown and she marches into her room. A glum Aarohi can feel an insurmountable amount of rage boiling in her and she lies down on the bed massaging her forehead lightly to assuage the pain. One might wonder, what can be reason of Arohi’s disdain when her daughter is a true embodiment of the phrase, ‘Atta Girl’, in every respect? The truth is that Arohi had never wanted a daughter like Yashvi, Miss Goody Two Shoes to  be precise. Arohi had led an extremely notorious childhood and had foreseen nonetheless for her children as well. Extremely stubborn and headstrong, a child who cringed at the sight of books had grown to mother a daughter who cries at an A2 grade in her progress report. There once was a day when Arohi’s mother had broken the Chapati into pieces so that it is easier for her to eat but given the whimsical child that Arohi was, she instantly demanded her mother to join the pieces together. Arohi had never done homework, unless her mother had made her sit down and bartered a delicious meal for the same. Whenever the teacher asked her to bring her notebook for correction, she would come up with astute excuses. Her absolute favorite being the one she gave in kindergarten, “Ma’am our maid has stopped coming for work and given the size of our family my mother has no time to devote to my studies.” At times, she would say that her notebooks were lost in shifting or that the class monitor must have handled them carelessly. The nucleus of her existence was playing and she would spend hours lazing with friends, hopping from one roof to another or simply wandering on the streets until her parents came hunting for her, coaxing her to return to the home whose existence she would easily forget at the prospect of leisure. The day she would come across a fellow who did not share the same opinions as her, she would go to any length to assert her point as is evident from the day when she tore a boy’s shirt in an argument. However the boy and she grew up to become close friends and she is time and again subtly reminded of her mischief by his parents. Her revolting temperament coupled with a disinclination towards studies did not quite earn her a place in the good books of her teachers. On a wild hunch, she once replicated a friend’s handwriting in the mid-term exam because she was sure that the teacher knew her’s and would intentionally deduct her marks. Yes, she was proficient with handwriting and signatures, so adept that she could become a con woman of the likes of Neil Caffrey of White Collar or Fank Abnagale of Catch Me if You Can.

On the contrary, her daughter has never even placed as little as a toenail out of line. She goes to bed at ten and wakes up at six and the she is late by even ten minutes, she breaks into tears thinking that she might not be able to reach school on time. Her ten-year old makes her bed before leaving for school, asks for books as gifts and has a scheduled one hour of playing everyday which she religiously sticks to. She has never been in a quarrel because she simply likes to keep her opinion to herself. Sometimes, to test her daughter’s patience Arohi cooks Gourd, Bitter Gourd or Pumpkin for dinner but Yashvi obediently empties the plate because she doesn’t want to annoy Mom and Dad. On days like today, Arohi cannot help but lament the goodness her daughter is born with. An act, which indeed leaves a poor Yashvi disgruntled who tries to take her virtue a notch higher in order to be lauded by her mother. Concerned for their daughter Anirudh often confronts Aarohi about her mysterious hostility towards their daughter. But she can never come to spell her sentiments into words, for the fear that he might simply dismiss them, calling them childish.

You know what has been the force behind Arohi’s predicament? Once in college she pestered a friend, a friend who happened to have a black tongue and a friend who was so enraged at her farce that she casually told Arohi that she will give birth to a daughter who will value nothing but rote learning and subservience. The two traits which had led many people to be mocked at the hands of Arohi.

The Luxury of Choice.

Daily Prompt: What a Twist!

Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.

 

Dressed in a red lehenga, Naina is  sitting in her room;  her heart pounding. and her mind lost in the mirage of her future prospects. With every passing second, her restlessness achieves a higher level. Beads of sweat roll on her forehead while she impatiently awaits for someone to acquaint her with the state of affairs outside her room  . She gazes at her reflection in the mirror, the crimson of her cheeks and the dark kohl laden eyes have given a heavenly radiance to her face. She scrutinizes the jewelry, playfully runs a finger along the vibrant bangles and finally smiles at the vivacity of her own appearance. Naina, the spitting image of an Indian bride. Now she wonders if she ever had the luxury of choice, because in the world that she inhabits, the precipice at which she stands is deemed to be the natural course of action. She knows that this point onward, her life will undergo a complete transformation.  Aware that this day unfolds a new chapter in her life, that soon her life as she knows it, will shrink itself to an element of retrospect.

She turns around at the sound of the opening door and in front of her eyes is a man occupied with assessing her from head to toe. This man will play an instrumental role in her life, because he is going to initiate her traverse into womanhood. The grin on his face is that of a victor, because he has outbid every man outside this room and quoted the highest sum on her virginity. That, even though she has donned the appearance of a bride, but her future does not spell the sanctitude of marriage but the abominable world of prostitution. As the man walks in her direction, a sense of eeriness pipes in and she again wonders about the luxury of choice. But then, when you are born in a brothel, then the word choice is non-existent in your life. The man pushes her onto the bed and an epiphany strikes that this moment is the point of inflection in her life, that henceforth she will be scarred for life.

Here are the other and hopefully lighter takes of the Prompt Challenge

  1. A twist. | Crossroads
  2. DP : What A Twist | Experimental Fiction
  3. Phoneography Weekly: Drift and Fall | We Live In A Flat
  4. Spill the (Coffee) Beans | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  5. You’d never have guessed it but… | Life & Times
  6. Surprise stretch | Books, Music, Photography & Movies : my best friends
  7. What a Twist! – The Angry Dwarf | Geek Ergo Sum
  8. The caveman’s bedtime story | Phelio a Random Post a Day
  9. a surprising twist | wannabepoet
  10. It does | contrailsonmyheart
  11. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! | Under the Monkey Tree
  12. Darth Vader | Bright Moments Catcher
  13. Daily Prompt: An excerpt with a twist | M. L. Trefry
  14. Andy Devlin and the ramp. | thoughtsofrkh
  15. Daily post: A twist | helen meikle’s scribblefest
  16. Daily Prompt – A Twist from a 10 Year Old | The Mercenary Researcher
  17. A shot at the ranch | MC’s Whispers
  18. Spoiler Alert! | Conversations
  19. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! The Boston Nanny Trial – True Story | SERENDIPITY
  20. The Defeat Of Eddie Fishbones (short fiction) | The Jittery Goat
  21. An Unexpected Reunion | The Silver Leaf Journal
  22. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! | Stevie’s Words
  23. Lurking | The Ambitious Drifter
  24. alisha’s call | just another outlet
  25. Daily Prompt..What do you do? | heysugarsugar
  26. London surprises Paris | Mareship
  27. Stolen Bread | Mind of a Mouse
  28. Horror in the alleyway | Blog of the imaginator
  29. Idiots twist | Hope* the happy hugger
  30. A Piece – Court Case – Part 1 | In Harmony
  31. We’d never have guessed! | Sue’s Trifles
  32. Bioshock Infinite- I know you’ve already Heard it’s good, but… | Lord Aoshi’s Latest Finds
  33. Surprise! | Haiku By Ku
  34. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! >>> The Check List | From Ground to Home
  35. Surprise | Flowers and Breezes
  36. A Tale of a Portrait | Inception
  37. So I hit the brakes, but the car didn’t stop. | SueAnn Porter
  38. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  39. Good-bye | Raivenne-lations
  40. World Domination at the Pinewood Derby | A Stone’s Throw
  41. Daily Prompt: With a Twist! | My Atheist Blog
  42. The Blue Heron | Kate Murray
  43. Daily Prompt: What a Twist? « Mama Bear Musings
  44. Getting It Right | My Experiments with Words
  45. Daily Prompt – twist – Suspicious minds | storyofmylife1993
  46. Handful of Stars #poetry #photography | Moondustwriter’s Blog
  47. Sprint for the Stars | Brianne Writes
  48. The campaign chief | Life is great
  49. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! | unknowinglee
  50. Proof That Sass is Directly Proportional to Age | NobsLyfe
  51. ESCAPE | hastywords
  52. The Twist | The Nameless One
  53. Once upon a time « RPMAS
  54. My Dead Wife | Just Visiting This Planet
  55. A Brush with Interpol | What a Twist! | The Journey of My Feet
  56. Didn’t see that coming … | Girlie Groove
  57. A Noir/Horror Short Story in screenplay form. | ExLibrisMachina
  58. Subject 6 – The Awakening – By: NCBEK | Incessant Ramblings
  59. Daily Prompt: What A Twist – The Ritual | IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE
  60. Poem I wrote during my teenage years | Senayda’s Spot
  61. A Piece – Conversation – Part 2 | In Harmony
  62. The Summer Rain | Curiosity
  63. WP20 : What a Twist | My Amphitheater
  64. Daily Prompt – It was me or him. Someone had to go. | Reinvention of Mama
  65. A Piece – Confrontation – Part 3 | In Harmony
  66. Daily Prompt: What a Twist (Love Bound) | Winding Road
  67. Hide and Seek – Daily Prompt: What a Twist and Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual POV | Babsje Heron
  68. Always and Forever, He Said Before He Disappeared | Molly Greye
  69. Life’s Tragedy | A mom’s blog
  70. the UNCATEGORISED | DAILY PROMPT : Jeremy | the TRASH BASH
  71. Daily Prompt: Around the Bend | One Starving Activist
  72. Daily Prompt: What A Twist! | Saying Everything
  73. Quick Fiction: “So, you’re telling me you’re not having an affair with another man?” | Write Now!
  74. Later, Dear | Eikons
  75. green pea surprise! | Her Broken Nibs
  76. A Beautiful, Intimidating Twist | Sogna Grandezza
  77. Love Birds | Eikons
  78. Via Lactea | vicbriggs’s Blog
  79. ☑ second chances ☒ | The RunningFather Blog
  80. A Piece – Cover of a Magazine – Part 4 | In Harmony
  81. Daily Prompt: What a Twist! | To Breathe is to Write
  82. Serial Story: Going Fishing | Lady J’s Library – The Desk of Julia Dina Blackowicz
  83. Suicide no. 9: The Lottery | derekalanwilkinson
  84. A Short Story & Friend-Makin’ Monday | Aislynn’s World
  85. The Intruder: A Twisted Short Story | Chronic Nonsense
  86. Something’s Missing | The Good Life
  87. On Neighborly Physics | Wiley’s Wisdom
  88. A Little Twist | One Dream Too Many
  89. what the– | the book of alice
  90. Daily Prompt: What A Twist! | Random Thoughts Of A Mad Music Fan
  91. What if the end was near? | Okay, what if ?
  92. between layers of | y
  93. We are Eighty | I AM STILL LOOKING UP
  94. Pretender una sociedad sana con una base corrompida | El Panfleto
  95. Footsteps In The Dark | Along Life’s Road
  96. Child of the Shadows | Legends of Lorata
  97. You’ve Just Crossed Over… | Your Smile is Priceless
  98. Backward Twisting Kahani | મન ની વાત
  99. A twisted sense of humour? | The Rider
  100. Daily Prompt – What a Twist | Jessica Brown NZ

Who am I?

Daily Prompt: Secret of Success

What would it take for you to consider yourself a “successful blogger”? Is that something you strive for?

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Aarav reaches out for his cup of coffee as he reads today’s Daily Prompt Challenge. Gazing at his laptop screen he ponders over the topic, wonders if he can call himself a successful blogger. If the 1248 followers, some 5000 likes and 2378 comments adorning his blog were to be taken account of, then indeed Aarav can be legitimately called a successful blogger. But deep down he knows these numbers are not a true reflection of his success. Licking the final remains of the froth from his coffee mug, he can feel the hunger pangs tightening in his stomach and he decides to think about the same while cooking.

Fourty years old, Aarav Seth is a software engineer in a multinational. Though concise in speech Aarav has always been a lovable boy for his peers, his seniors, his neighbors and his family. His mother’s only discontent being the void in his life when it comes to love. His blog, being one of his passions along with cooking and music. Everyday he sits down to write down his version of the Daily Prompt plus often he pens down fictional tales which have majorly been the reason for his popularity in the virtual world.

He pulls out a lustrous knife from the drawer and as he runs a finger along its body, Aarav recalls his fictional pieces are often called sharp. Meticulously, he slices onions, tomatoes and capsicums for his Indian(ized) Pasta Arabiatta. Another attribute of his tales, meticulously etched characters. He pours a generous helping of Olive Oil in the pan and puts garlic cloves in it. As the garlic sizzles slightly, a pungent smell gathers in his kitchen and he puts the vegetables in the pan, tossing it gently. Here again, he thinks, his astute sense of timing and the extent to which every twist is to be cooked on the flames of his imagination, is what helps him to deliver such sizzling reads. As he cooks his dinner, he reminisces the various adjectives his readers like to attach with his works, namely, ingenious, clever, cutting edge and well thought.

He empties the contents of the pan on a plate and returns to his laptop. As his tongue lets the spices sink in, Aarav smiles. And he smiles not because it is a well made dish but at the oblivion of his readers. None of whom have the slightest idea, that each one of his cutting-edge murder mysteries are actual accounts of the murders he has committed. The vividness in his stories is not a God gift, nor is it an asset earned over years, but can only be observed because he has slit throats as finely as he slices vegetables. Rarely, people realize that his mysteries are very similar to the killings in news. But he has always shrewdly replied that sometimes he takes real life incidents, spins a story around them and gives the killer a motive. Imagine, something so hollow satiates the inquisitive reader, lowers the raised eyebrows and obliterates the cynicism. Now you know, that it is not numbers and hearty feedback that quantify his success but his concealed identity. The adorable boy next door, whose cheeks old Aunties like to pull is the man behind many ruthless killings.

P.S. I could not think of anything for today’s prompt so I let my imagination run wild.

Chef, Coach and Courageous

Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths

Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write!

“Alankrita, that is the third boy you have rejected in a fortnight. How can you be so indiscreet about your marriage?” utters a flustered Mrs Narang.

“Mom, just because he earns 50 lac a year does not mean he is a suitable boy. He was cocky and from what I recall, one of my childhood lessons said, ‘being cocky is unbecoming’.” said Alankrita who paces into her room leaving her mother behind.

Alankrita has three variants of a Suitable Boy in her mind, namely, Chef, Coach and Courageous (Army). At the age of 18, Alankrita had seen Lakshya, which had two implications on her, ‘coming of age’ became her favorite genre in movies and that she wanted to absolutely marry a fellow who is in the Indian Army. Because there cannot be a true embodiment of courage, other than a person who puts his life on stake to protect thousands of others.

Three years later, she saw Chak De India which revived her dying affection for Shahrukh Khan. Not because it is one of those movies where Shahrukh Khan shines as an actor but primarily because of the character he played. The exhausting conditioning that a coach subjects his protege to, touched her heart, simply because the coach is the brains behind the performer.  After this movie, she Googled a set of other similar movies, ordered their DVDs and watched them. Her favorite coach being Herman Boone (Remember the Titans), followed by Sasha Belov (Make it or Break it) and then Chanakya. And thus she knew she has to marry a Coach/Teacher.

In 2011, she saw Vikas Khanna in Masterchef India and she fell head over heels in love with him. Immensely humble, tied close with family, hot and a Michelin Star winner Chef, what else can one want in their husband. Hence, she resolved, “I have to marry a fellow like Vikas Khanna.”

When the talks of her marriage began, she swore by the three C’s but irrespective of her insistence her mother was being whimsical in the groom hunt. The first guy she met, Ankit, born into a business family, alumna of Wharton Business School and to put it politely, a Patriarch. During their buffet at the Taj, seldom did he miss an opportunity to make it clear that he needs a be at home wife who can take care of his family and raise beautiful children for him. If only money could buy sanity, she thought to herself at the dinner table.

The second guy, Akshat, was a journalist with NDTV and she had almost foregone her check list but then his mother proposed some voodoo rituals to be performed before the talks materialize into a relationship. Apparently, their family astrologer had suggested that her stars are laid in a bad position which may bring great misfortunes for Akshat’s family. Now, whenever she sees Akshat on the TV sounding so intellectual, she can’t help but call him a hypocrite.

The third fellow, Nitin, an IIT Delhi graduate, and post graduate from IIM Ahmadabad quite rubbed it on her face that how his current salary is double than her’s. He did not mince his words while implying that people who opt for Maths-Science are sharper than those who opt for Commerce like Alankrita.  Now, you see why she called him cocky.

Mrs Narang followed Alankrita into her room and angrily says, “What do you want me to do, find a guy on the moon. Boys are egoists just like women are emotional, you can’t change that. And since you can’t, you will have to marry one of the menfolk on this planet and learn to adjust.”

“Adjust, how do you expect me to adjust to a guy who thinks there is no better use of my life than to raise children or the guy who values some superstitious mumbo-jumbo over his sense of judgment or the guy who thinks he has an upper hand over me simply because he did science and I did commerce. Let me spell this out very clearly to you, I want to marry a teacher, a chef or a soldier.”, responded Alankrita.

“Stop being a kid, will you? Do you want to spend your life being called a Bawarchi’s wife? And a soldier, do you know how many men die in the military? I am sorry but I cannot live with the looming fear of seeing you as a widow. As far as a teacher is concerned, I wonder how do you expect to support your prodigal life style with dwindling salaries of a teacher? I am struggling day and night finding you prospects from decent and well-settled families while you simply go and reject each one of them.”, replies Mrs Narang. ”

Oh I know, what well settled and decent means, it means rich, that’s it. But haven’t you heard, ‘Somethings money can’t buy’.”, says Alankrita.

“Let me complete that for you, ‘Somethings in life, money can’t buy. For everything else there is a Master Card.’ So while I am at it, I can at least make sure that I find you guy who has a master card.”, Mrs Narang wittily retaliates.

“Thank you, for doing me this huge favor. You know what, I will find myself a better half on my own.” says Alankrita bringing the argument to an end.

“Fine, suit yourself. I hope you are aware that you can’t walk into a store and place an order for a custom made husband.”, replied Mrs Narang and closes the door as she walks out.

Mr Narang, who has all this while been sitting on the couch pretending to be engrossed in the newspaper, lowers the newspaper a little to see Mrs Narang walking out. He thinks, “This is the third time in the fortnight when the two of them have had a similar argument with the exact same conclusion. But neither has Mrs Narang stopped playing the cupid nor has Alankrita has tried finding herself a chef/soldier/coach.” As a young man, Mr Narang had only wished for a peaceful life but living with two women at constant logger heads doesn’t beseem a peaceful life. If only wishful thinking were an assurance for the future.

P.S. My ten words were, Interview, Apple, Chef, Coach, Blade, Hair,Courageous, Floor, Time and Dark. I was watching Chak De India before checking the prompt and it was the night of Vikas Khanna’s return to television, so that is how I came up with the two of them and went ahead to use them.

Here are the other Haphazard posts you should check out

  1. Reliant Gnome Wrapper | Godrick Gnomish
  2. Look Shadow Tree | Phelio a Random Post a Day
  3. Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths | Let There be Peace on Earth
  4. Reality Life Window | artesonja
  5. The Silhouette’s Breeze | Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths | likereadingontrains
  6. Daily Prompt: Girl, Boy: Phrase (The catch phrase of our lives) | jennifermarshcurtis
  7. Random Beauty – Grace | Inspired by the Comforter
  8. Overpowering Voice, Love | Cofundrum
  9. Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths | littlegirlstory
  10. Chris, Pandas, and D-Box | Random Musings …
  11. Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths .. to Nothing | From Ground to Home
  12. Haphazard: A Daily Prompt Poem « Vicariously Poetic
  13. Around You There | heathervoid
  14. Three Tenths: Crazy, Peace, Seasons | Life & Times
  15. Oh, What Tangled Webs We Weave | Andante Cantabile
  16. Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths | Indira’s Blog
  17. Daily Prompt: Three-Tenths | Indira’s Blog
  18. Haphazard | Books, Music, Photography & Movies : my best friends
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I’d rather not be a Svelte Stunner

Daily Prompt: Never Again.

Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it.

Daily Prompt: Never Again

 

“No pain, no gain.”

Vatsala constantly mutters this maxim under her breath as she walks into the fitness center for her daily workout. Five days in to the fitness center and it seems as though her entire body is on the verge of being dismantled, every body part yearning to fall of on the floor. She can feel cramps in every fiber of her body; honestly it hurts to even have a hearty laugh. But she cannot give up, not yet, not so easily, not until she has knocked down five kilograms to the least. It is the year of her graduation and she cannot walk down to her graduation night dinner unless she fits into a little black dress. Of course it is not what the protocol calls for, but it is simply for her own contentment that she desires to be a svelte stunner that night.

While she exchanges pleasantries with the new formed acquaintances, her mind is still torn between the tussle of pain vs gain.

“Today’s workout is for lean mean legs where we do a seven minute cardio warm up followed by two rounds of stretching exercises. Ladies is you commit yourself to this workout, your thunder thighs are going to be long gone.”, announced their instructor Sameer, who might seem not so rigid  at first but is in fact a hard taskmaster. On Vatsala’s second day, he did not let her step out of the fitness center until she managed to get all the ten abdominal exercises correct.

Like every other girl in the room, Vatsala was beaming at the prospect of evanescing thunder thighs.

The first exercise for the warm up was Marching in place and Vatsala assured herself this couldn’t be any easier. The next one being jogging in place, Vatsala smoothly managed to jog her way through the sixty seconds. After some twenty seconds into the Jumping Jacks, Vatsala could feel the sweat rolling down her forehead and her eyes glued to the stop watch hoping for the ticking clock to pace up a little. When the Skip Extensions began, Vatsala was reminded of her discomfort with the verb skip since childhood, be it her inability with skipping rope or the horror of skipping a question in an exam, she has never managed to do anything skip. Perplexed between which leg goes back and which comes forth she reasons with herself, “Nah, I can’t do this one.”

At the outset the pendulum hops seemed easy, but at times her feet cannot juggle left-right, making her halt momentarily. Her neurons delivering a message to her eyes, to not lift the eyelids because Sameer as well may already be glaring at Vatsala, but then she shoots back at her judgmental brain, “Wasn’t assembled to be a pendulum, was I? In that moment of contemplation she misses out on the name of the next exercise but  by the looks of it she chooses to call it the weird exercise where she has to kick forward and at the same time pulling her arms downwards.

“The last exercise in the warm up is Jumping Oblique Twists, if your legs jump rightwards your shoulders go left and vice versa.”, explains Sam who is asking everyone to buckle up because the actual routine hasn’t even started.

Horrified at the physical intensity of the warm up, Vatsala has another problem facing her. If you have been reading attentively, you would know that right-left or back and forth render Vatsala dyslexic and the poor girl simply wants to get the last exercise right so much that she stands in an oblique fashion before beginning the exercise.

“Vatsala, jumping crazily is not going to suffice for the missing oblique twist,”, reprimands Sam who cannot comprehend that how can someone go so wrong with a simple exercise.

The first exercise in the routine is Captain Morgan Eights where she is supposed to make lateral eights in the air with her leg while keeping her knee locked through out. Vatsala smoothly manages to make the figures and keep her balance uptight all along. “It doesn’t hurt at all except in a notch in the upper thigh. Like they say a medicine is as effective as much is it bitter likewise an exercise is as effective as painful it is. Maybe I am doing this wrong.”, wonders Vatssala. She steals a small peak at the ones around her but is still unsure if she is doing the correct motion.

Next in line is Static Ski Squats+Rear Leg Lifts. Sam stands next to her, pushes her shoulders downward, implying she needs to squat lower. Then she raises a leg backwards but very meekly or rather hesitantly. Sam shakes her head and stretches her leg in a straight line until she winces and involuntarily her body switches from a squat to upright position. For the next 45 seconds both Sam and Vatsala struggle to help her get the posture and the gesture right but as a matter of fact simultaneous movements is not her cup of tea.

Now she has to do the Inner Thigh W’s and then the Side Leg U Lifts. As she stretches her legs in different angles making alphabets in the air, she understands that the exercises are gradually rising on the scale of physical intensity or like she prefers to call it, are becoming ‘excruciating’. A thought strikes her mind, “If they taught alphabet like this in nursery rather than on paper the entire country may choose to go uneducated than endure this agonizing pain.”

She fumbles through the remaining exercises-  Crossover Crab Kicks, Seated Leg Lifts, Frog Leg Lifts, Squats plus leg raises and swinging bridges. At times she simply can’t muster the strength to lift her legs and at times when she does lift them, she does the exercises at a hurried pace leaving no time for her brain to evaluate which part of her body hurts more than the other.

At the end of the day, as she walks down to the parking lot, her legs feel heavy, as if someone has tied weights to them. Finding comfort in the cushioned seat of her she puts the key into ignition and places her foot over the accelerator. Right then, she moans, taking cognizance of the strains that the stretching and cardio has left on her legs. In that moaning, lay the resolution that Vastsala will never ever step into the fitness center again not unless she is driven to be incapacitated for performing any other act in her life other than fitting into the little black dress.

P.S. The workout featured on this blog is not a fictitious one and you can find this at Fitness Blender’s Lean Mean Legs.

“I believe this is what mortals call Anachronism”, said God standing in a temple

Daily Prompt: Back to the Future.

Anachronism (noun): an error in chronology; a person or thing that’s chronologically out of place. Write a story in which a person or thing is out of place, or recount a time when you felt out of place.

Daily Prompt: Back to the Future

“Anachronism means a person or thing out of place, that is, if you were in a place and you felt that you do not belong there.”

“But Mumma, why should you choose to be in a place where you feel out of place?”, questioned Kamya wittily.

“Kamya we do not get to make all of our choices in life.”, replied her mother; wondering if buying Bournvita for her six year old was actually a smart choice. Her perpetually increasing questions are undoubtedly a reason for unrest.

Twelve years later as Kamya stands outside a temple with her father, the scorching sun breaking hell on mankind, she experiences an epiphany. Anachronism, the apt word for the situation she is in.

Kamya is not an atheist but the idea that God lies in idols or finding God in the four walls of a temple or any other religious structure, never quite appealed her. In stark contrast to her, is her father whose superstition and god-fearing(ness) can defy any logic.

Two years ago, when Kamya’s Tauji met with an accident after visiting temples of Goddess Durga’s manifestations in North India, her father pointed out, “Bhaisahab, you called up on this misfortune yourself. You visited the temples in the wrong order, the correct order is ‘Chamunda Devi, Kangra Devi, Jwala Devi and finally Chintapurni’.  Your indiscretion must have upset Goddess Durga.” Kamya was shocked beyond belief when everyone seconded his thought.

“By God’s willingness, we were able to finish the Darshan well within time.” said Kamya’s father. Kamya looks at the glossy V.I.P. passes in her hand and shakes her head in disbelief. She is itching to correct him that it is not for God’s willingness but for these V.I.P. passes bought for 4500 that they were able to evade long queues and earn themselves a minuscule view (mind you, a bigger minuscule than the normal crowd) of Sai Baba’s statue.

A month ago when they watched Akshay Kumar’s movie Oh My God (Hindi adaptation of the Australian film, The Man Who Sued God), her father had given a standing ovation as the closing credits rolled by. And she believed that maybe  a movie has talked some sense in to him but alas movies are for recreation not for reflection and drawing inspiration.

Next day, they were in another temple and this temple had taken Commercialization of God/Devotion/Spirituality to a newer level.

  1. Open kiosk for selling passes at Rupees 250
  2. A Rs. 20 extra to the Prashadwala and he carries your footwear to the entrance so that the blazingly hot ground doesn’t burn your feet
  3. Platinum, Gold and Silver packages for the Puja- euphemism for Pandit’s commission of 1500,1000,500 respectively
  4. And a special recommendation that cash or gold/silver ornament adorning your offerings accelerates the prayer processing mechanism in God’s chambers

As she sees her father negotiate with the Pandit over a package, she realizes that they have already spent Rs 45,640 on the religious trip solely embarked with the intention of searching God or getting closer to him. She ponders if Lord Buddha would have been able to attain ‘Nirvana’ without the riches in the 21st century. Even God would be amused to see the fearless commodificaton of Moksha, how a crisp-crimson 1000 rupees note can help a mortal wash off his sins.

As they walk out of the temple, Kamya tells her father, “Dad the way you splurge, it worries me at times.”

“God gives, God takes.” her father curtly replies.

Her mother who could sense an altercation if Kamya utters another word on the same, astutely changed the topic and said, “Can we go and see the local markets if we are not running behind schedule?”

The same night, they were returning back home from their religious trip. A few miles before their hometown, a dog (whose owner apparently was walking it on the highway) appeared in front of their car. Her father hurriedly hit the brakes and the car behind them hit their’s abruptly. As the car behind them zoomed away in dark, all of them rushed outside to assess the damage. Her father running a finger across the huge dent on the boot, said, “We did a huge mistake by not visiting the Hanuman temple en route, look how much has it costed us.”

And today’s special is- ‘The dish not yet perfected’

Daily Prompt: You, the Sandwich.

“Mmmm”, Nikhil utters relishing the Paneer Lahori (cottage cheese cooked in cream with assorted Indian spices and garlic zest) and helps himself to another serving. “Jaan, no one can concoct a North Indian meal as delightfully as you do. It’s absolute brilliance.” Nikhil tells her, mesmerized by her food as much that Sneha can actually see his mouth-watering.

Everyone, whom Sneha has known in her life, everyone who has tasted her food even something as little as a cheese popper, will be ready to endorse Nikhil’s sentiment. Her friends, her neighbors, her colleagues, her husband, her kids- there is not a single person who hasn’t been swayed with her culinary skills. Her friends call her to fix meals or supervise the caterers for a party. Her lunch/dinner parties are events people don’t even dream of missing because of the irresistible food. Her bhabhi often befuddled between kasuri methi and garam masala, calls her for recipes.

They tell her, “You should go participate in Masterchef, no one can beat you at food.”

“Why don’t you write a cookery book, it will be a bestseller.”

“At least try writing newspaper columns, will relieve us, horrid cooks, of so much misery.”

She has never been content with her cooking, it’s always a step behind perfection. Dal Makhni is never that creamy, the Bhaturas are never that fluffy, the balance of spices and tangy-ness in her Rajma is always amiss, the stuffing in her Paranthas is never evenly spread and so on. But simply, it is not what her mother cooked for her.

In her early forties, her mother often complained of abdominal pain; something that everyone including her mother thought to be because of indigestion. One day they even got her tested to rule out any suspicion, their family doctor  (who was simply trying to materialize, on the number of patients surging by the day) run a casual gaze over the reports, assured them there was nothing to worry about and wrote out a general prescription. A month later, her mother developed a high temperature and after a few hours succumbed to it. It was discovered the pain, that everybody including the MBBS, MD Doctor mistook to be indigestion, was actually because of a dysfunctional kidney. The memory of that day is fresh in her mind- a pain that has not once subdued in the past ten years.

Food was her mother’s biggest passion, it defined her mother. Her mother, an avid follower of Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khana Khazana, did not like constraints being placed up on her culinary skills. Indian food stoked to perfection, she would try her hands on Chinese, Italian or Mexican delicacies, often recreating the dishes she had tasted in a fancy restaurant or in a kitty party.

Two days after her death, Sneha entered the kitchen, scrambled the refrigerator, the shelves just to get hold of something cooked by her mother and once she saw the box of besan ki pinni she held it in a tight embrace, childishly hoping to keep the pinnis with her forever as a souvenir from her mother. For days she longed for her mother and then in one of her sleepless nights she resolved that she is going to bring her mother back to life by cooking exactly the way she did.

She would spend hours defining attributes of every dish her mother had cooked, then zeroing in, on the ingredients questioning herself whether the Tomato Shorba was sour because of lemon, tamarind, or vinegar and then cooking the dish, vaguely guessing the proportion of every ingredient. But she hasn’t been able to revive even a single dish not even the chutney or achar (sauce and pickle).

Her mother would often coax her to learn cooking and she would always glibly reply, “I have all the time in this world to learn cooking.” Time, what a misconstrued notion, it is. You don’t realize its worth until you have none left.

She remembers an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Izzie struggled with the chocolate muffins that her mother used to bake and later in the episode her patient, who happened to be a psychic informed her that the missing ingredient was coconut extract. Since then, she had secretly wished for a psychic, a dream or a divine signal to help her in the agenda but her prayers still remain unanswered.

Nikhil who reaches out for another Tandoori Nan, realizes that Sneha is lost in intent thought, gives her a slight peck on the back and asks, “Jaan, why aren’t you eating? Eat it before, we gluttons (winking at their twin sons) swallow the Paneer down our gut.”

She meets his eye smiling, “Namak thoda zyada ho gaya hai paneer mein, nahi? Naan thoda kaccha hai.” (The paneer is slighly salty and the Naan is a little raw.) She gets up from her chair picking up the casserole and says, “Wait, I’ll get you a kadak (crisp and roasted) Naan.”

As she strolls into the kitchen, leaving behind an exasperated Nikhil, she mutters under her breath, “A skill not yet acquired.”

Forced Nomadism

Daily Prompt: There’s No Place Like Home.
If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?

Seven years ago, when Tamanna and Samar took the nuptial vows, their families could not stop swooning, “Bilkul Ram-Seeta ki jodi hai.” (It’s a match like that of Lord Ram and Seeta). Back then she did not even have a hazy idea that it was a premonition of an exile like that of Ram and Seeta , the only difference being, their’s was a 14 year-long exile while her will last for life (at least till Samar retires from army).

At 24, working as a financial analyst in American Express she believed that she has a sovereign control over her life, a belief which was completely shaken when her parents first proposed the idea of marriage. Her relentless protests could not prolong the affair for more than a year because what the Indian society completely condemns is the idea of a woman who prioritizes her ambition over marriage. She had no apprehensions to an arranged marriage, because apart from two college affairs she had never been in love and waiting for true love seemed odd and would have caused her parents disdain beyond any measure. Through a family friend, she was introduced to Major Samar Khanna who was roughly 30 around that time, who met her criteria of an ideal guy (handsome, brave, witty and open-minded) and her family’s as well (hailing from a family with a repute and financial backing).

Six months after their marriage, he was stationed to Dalhousie. Over the past six months she had subtly dropped hints for him that she had no intent of uprooting her life in Delhi and moving on with him, for two reasons. Hers was too lucrative a job to let go off immediately and she liked stability. She knew she was being selfish, but if she could leave her family for this marriage, mold her choices to match his, for the smallest of things like choosing  a side of bed, then she thought she had earned this act of whim. But when the doomsday arrived, there was not a single person who tried not to reason with her; tell her that it was an act of escapism and that she has no right to forego her marital responsibilities. Reluctantly, she moved on to Dalhousie. After a year it was Mhow, then Ambala and then it was Chandimandir.

When she had newly assumed the role of a homemaker, she found thrill in trying out new cuisines, socializing and adorning her abode. But after a while, engaging in these activities seemed a pointless exercise, because the realization struck that there will be always another house, new set of helpers, new set of friends and newer environs. Samar always had his hands full and he could not tend to her petty problems. Whether it was her hatred for travel or the inconvenience of packing and unpacking or her contempt for the (un)voluntary altruism she had to commit to, to help him move up in ranks, he simply had a single answer, “This is what you chose for yourself by marrying me.”

Sometimes, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a vagabond; leading a life with a ‘shelf life’.  Her deep discontent made her decide that she does not want to have children.

“We are always on the go, moving in these alien terrains, unaware of what life has in store for us. And with children, there are pertinent issues like education and health/hygiene.” she explained to Samar, one night in bed and though unwilling at first, he agreed.

But she is sure, that with her biological clock ticking and his grudges reflecting with a newer clarity each day, she knows that will have to give up on this resolution as well, like each one that she had taken for her life.

They say, that there is no place better than home, but ironically she cannot even enlist one place as home.