Wednesday, June 30, 2010


These scampering pathways
Rushing through the wicket
Lining the bed of roses
Brushing past the bushes
Hiding in the thicket
Jumping by the stream
Heading into the green
Cruising under the bridge
Escaping the ridge
Dribbling down the valley
Running through the alley
Trudging up the hermit hills
Twisting round the old well
Twirling past the crooked bend
Will they ever meet again?
Dashing down their own way
If they ever loose their way
Will they call out for each other
To hold hands and stroll together
Towards their journey's end
Will they meet again?


I feel sad
As the sun droops down
Towards the western shore
The sky blushes pink
The clouds laced in gold
Wander by asunder
The moon looms up
In pallid splendour
I feel sad
As the dusk deepens more
The day says good bye
Like an old friend
After years
Being together


I know oh my Lord!
I will have to leave behind
The wealth of my soul
Scripted in words
Woven in tales
Sung in lores

This is an audacious attempt because the essence of the verse is inspired by lines of a song by Tagore.


A dark, distraught, overladen sky
The whining, wistful wind moans by
The trees swaying to their hearts' delight
The birds are frantic in their flight
A hint of a long awaited Bohemian pour
I hope Nature will make us wait no more


Writing a verse is like
Discovering an old, dusty cupbaord
Shut for ages
Pushed away in callous neglect
To a dark corner of a cluttered store

One fine leisurely afternoon
In a sudden mood for spring cleaning
I chance upon it
Amazed, (I had almost forgotten it was there!)
I look for the keys
Finding none, I try pull it open
The boards creak and groan
But the door is so tight
It won't budge an inch
I bang hard
I struggle
It oscillates
Under pressure
As though about to shatter
In shards scatter
Suddenly the wasted hinges give way
The door hangs out, precariously sway

I look in curious
Its so dark inside
I rummage blindly
What do I find?
A jigsaw puzzle?
A cross word?
Words, syllables, letters,
Thoughts, feelings, emotions,
Lyrics, songs, dreams, desires
Some satiated
Some unfulfilled
Some perhaps heard
A few smothered
Hidden for so long
I push and pull for sometime
A little cautiously
Savagely at times
I coax not too hard
Just a slight urge
Yet compel as well
An upsurge
Wells up
Lo! Like a splurge
They tumble down freely
Unguarded, unbridled
Like happy pebbles
They tremble
In earthy glee
A happy spree
Soon an avalanche
Slides down
The cascade spreads over
In candid cadence
On pure, pristine pages

I find myself in every
Stroke, curve, alphabet
Even in the lines in between
The gaps unfilled
Deliberately kept
Just like that
In joy of raveling
What is explicit not
I am there in every bit
Morsel and piece
I am lingering
Longing to be sought
Find me out
Read me
Speak to me
Hear me ...........
I may tiptoe
Into your heart


The ravines of your eyes
Fathomless, bottomless
Hooded, a shroud of mystery
Forever, never mine
Lurks a mischief somewhere there
A poorly suppressed smile
Twinkles in the lashes
Plays hide and seek
Like the sun’s rays
A rainbow of colours,
Dancing on the
Shivering leaves
Throwing off waltzing, lusterless
Patterns on the side wall
Of my verandah
I sit in languid leisure
Watch the day traipse by
Measure by measure
The night prowling in
Innocent as an imp

I chase away the shimmering smile
The mischievous glint
Those yearns of unraveled pleasureful stints
Of ephemeral glimpses, perennial veil
I let swim past the glimmer of hope too
As aeon has passed by
When we met and parted
Wordlessly amidst a crowd
Of wandering souls
Now just a fading, ethereal sigh of
Remembrance torments me,
Tickles me at times
Like a call from faraway wilderness
Or a long forgotten tune
Like a child woken up from dreamful sleep
More like a stranger
Trespassing a foreign land
Stealthily, silently
Whispering a sshhhhhhh
In my ears fleetingly
Leaving a secret behind
For a moment
Or dropping a hint like a
Droplet of dew, weightless

A mute gesture of unspoken reality
“Don’t try to catch me, clutch me,
Clench me, cling to me, cajole me,
Caress me or hold me
In the crook of your palms
With delicate, longing warmth
Let me flow by
Let me row by
Let me swish past
Like a wisp of a mindless thought
I am just a song of the wandering
Gypsy, a breath of a breeze,
A homeless, helplessly happy
Prancing stream
A skulking shadow of the
Widowed past
A distant dream of yore;
I shall tread by
Softly leaving not a clue
Or footprints to follow suit
As time flees by, one day
You’ll wonder wistfully
Perhaps a little amused too
Where are those days gone?
When we had met and parted
Wordlessly though…………….”

The relics of the past buried
Deep in the heart wake up
From slumber
As night ambles in
With a moonless frown
And tortures me
In wordless speech
In soundless noise
In the stillness of echoes

Saturday, June 26, 2010


A question was raised :

Prehistoric, fossilized
Under layers of unearthed civilization
There lies in seclusion
A monolith of
Dreams and Disaster
Waiting to rise above
The ashes
Like the Phoenix
Will you be there to witness
The upsurge?
The volcanic eruption of
Inflamed thoughts and
Turbulent emotions
Which refuse to remain
Confounded, dormant
Under age-old
Taboos, stigmas and
Will you be there to
Give a hand
In silent agreement
Of what was
And what could not be
Therefore what is
And what will become of
What remains unexplored
Will you be there?

The answer :

FOR YOU............
This monolith of dreams
This relic of disaster,
Will prove to be the visionary
And will create a castle faster.
A castle that shall house
The echoes of the heart
The voices of the soul
And eruptions of the thought.
When like a Phoenix you rise
I shall hail your soar
And witness your voyage
With delight galore................

Obviously, the retort excelled the query

Friday, June 25, 2010


I was super excited with my transfer from Noida to Delhi after 8 long years. Though a Delhite must get used to the expansivenss of the idea of residing and working within the NCR, it was more than a psychological relief when I was posted back in SCOPE Complex,where I was based eight years back. Delhi meant lesser commuting time, easier departure schedule from home to office, more time with family and less tension (of transport) when working late in office. I was sadly mistaken. SCOPE of eight years hence was a rude shock. I was unpleasantly surprised to see the serene and organized landscape of SCOPE marred by potholes, bad roads, disorganized traffic, scanty parking space and the resultant haphazard spill over of parked vehicles on the main roads, in fact, wherever, there was an iota of space which could be grabbed. As a result, just to move in and out of the Complex every morning and evening is an exercise in dilligent and time consuming maneouverings. Nowadays, it takes equal time, if not more, to commute within Delhi as it takes from Noida to Delhi by road. To top it all, a sudden downpour or the monsoon bouts and indefinite stranded existence in claustrophobic interiors of public conveyance is an invariable consequence. To add to the misery is the multiplicity of constructions, road renovations etc taking place in view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games. This is not the Delhi I knew. At the same time, it is also a fact that it doesn't take much time for the city to bounce back to shape. We have seen that happening earlier. So, however, slapshod, disruptive and disorderly the makeover exercise may be, we hope to see a more beautiful, organized and upbeat Capital in a few months to come. Till then patience must prevail.


Being the Godmother of all stray dogs and puppies in my locality and having a pet of my own, I happen to frequent the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital for Animal Care more than I care to visit any other Hospital. In the beginning, I had a few misgivings about the kind of care and sevices which would be provided there. But these soon dissipated. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Vets dedicated and caring and the assistants efficient and helpful. Though, the Hospital needs to be updated to a large extent in terms of beds, equipments, etc. But even within the limited infrastructure, the services rendered are exemplary. It is here that I also realized how much Delhites love their canine friends. On one such visit, I found two young girls bringing in a dehydrated, emaciated puppy who naturally had to be put on glucose. The OPD having limited beds which being all occupied, the puppy was laid on newspaper sheets on a stone bench outside the OPD building with the glucose bottle hung by the branch of the tree next to it. The two girls spent hours fanning the puppy and driving away the flies. The doctor took several rounds to see how the puppy was doing. It was a very touching scene which brought tears to my eyes. During the same visit, I found a father and son bringing in an adult stray dog wrapped in quilt for treatment. Most probably the dog had a leg injury and was bodily carried in. I also found families donating quilts, mattresses and other items so that the inmates could be provided with proper beddings. I have heard that the hospital receives large fiscal donations as well which I only hope are properly disbursed towards better facilities and medical care for our animal friends.


We were one of those few migrants to Pitampura in the early ninetys when the locality was desperately struggling to become a decent habitat. Needless to say the struggle entailed loads of inconveniences for the early settlers including knee-deep water clogs during monsoons and indefinite power cuts. The place was partly jungle and partly evolving into a civilized locale. I remember we were rushing off to Karolbagh, at every drop of a hat, to purchase items which fell in the category of “little more than basic amenities”. We were one of those innumerable Bengali families who had lived, breathed eaten and belched Karolbagh since we made Delhi our hometown. So one could say that the attraction to and nostalgia of Karolbagh not only persisted, even after we shifted base to Pitampura, but grew in proportion, as the latter failed to provide the ambience and amenities, which we were so used to growing up with. But as is the intrinsic character of the city, in less than no time Pitampura Gaon developed into a sprawling, flourishing, self sufficient suburb. Gradually, the Karolbagh fixation wearied off. Almost a decade later, DMRC came to town to erect the Kashmere Gate – Rithala Metro line across Pitampura. In no time the entire demography changed. Our favourite leisure time activity was to stand by the roadside and watch the hordes of engineers and laborers toiling day and night to put into place the massive construct by the CANI principle(Constant And Never ending Improvement). The yellow helmets became a permanent fixture on the landscape. We saw them arriving in groups to work in the morning, invading the parks during lunch-time , managing traffic in peak hours, cleaning and working at the site and traveling back in groups in the evenings. They were everywhere. Then the trial runs began. Engineers ran up and down in the blazing peak summer afternoons to fine tune the timing and the run. Observing them we realized the amount of meticulous planning, persevearance, pain and pure hard work that went in to erect landmarks and achieve milestones. Metro became the pride of Pitampura. Then came the Underpass. Soon Pitampura had a three-tiered passage way – the Ring Road, the Underpass and the Metro overhead. Next in the queue was Dilli Haat. Now as we whiz past the brightly lit underpass in the evenings or lick our fingers over delicious helpings of BTW’s aloo tikki at Netaji Subhash Place with the Metro crawling by through the garland of the Haat lights, hanging as though mid space, Pitampura looks like the most happening place on this planet.


A soft new bud is blushing to bloom. I hope she blossoms with all the colours of the rainbow. When the sun shines on her soft petals, a velvety sheen may spread around so that my garden takes on a new palate of hues and shimmer. When she is in full bloom, her fragrance may fill the air, making the birds itch to chirp more cheerfully and the bees hum more beautifully. I shall then softly tread in lest I disturb the arrangements so carefully put in place in all its vigour, beauty and bounty. I shall prayerfully listen to what she has to tell me. The secrets of life and love. Perhaps success too. I shall listen to her carefully so that she wants to tell me more. I shall bask in her glory and try experience eternal bliss through her poignant lores. Oh! there is so much ahead and so much more. This is just a beginning of a new found friendship!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The sun-baked sand dunes of Sahara where the wrath of Apollo converged on the lens of my camera with such abundance that the mirror cracked from side to side and I had to take recourse to my mind's eye! The smouldering flames lashed mercilessly on the golden crust of the earth so much so that the landscape gasped white with fury.

The thorny, thirsty bushes thrust their arms towards the sky begging for a few drops of mercy. But the date palms pushed up their heads arrogantly challenging the raging blaze.

The minuscule bowl of molten ice evaporated in a giffy. In a far away distant land a mirage of green swayed lustily. As I pulled on wary and weary in a tattered black robe, my scalded feet left indelible prints on the golden grains.

The vultures hovered close greedily guarding their prey. I was nothing but a mass of barbecued flesh and charred bones. A molten pulp of candle wax in a furnace of cascading lava.

As I licked my parched lips and closed shut my scorched lids, I saw a gigantic swirl of aquamarine. Wave after wave tumbling, lashing, swaying and sashaying and then making way for another swirling gush of lathered shower. Soon the deep blue foamed liquid parted and there rose amidst the sky high roller coaster of water, a sparkling, scintillating chariot of white drawn by seven, snowy,sinewy horses, galloping out of the depths of the labyrinthine sea green and blue.

Drawn were their reigns by a pair of powerful arms. Veiled was the rider in a flowing gossamer sheen which hid his face but not his power or presence. As he stepped out of the ocean spluttering huge droplets, they flew out one by one where I stood and I stooped low to pick them up in my palm. As I did so I realized that those were not acquarian drops but strings of milky white pearls scattered and broken out of their shells.

I opened my eyes to velvety darkness with a pleasureful shudder. My room looked mercifully ordinary after the playful hues of scalding gold and tempestuous blue and Greecian figure was just a bubble of vapour disappearing in the coal blackness of the night.

I sighed deeply and closed my eyes again soon to be submerged under the sequined blanket of euphoric dreams.


Those that once brought in immeasurable pain and shame
Are this day the cause of immense rejoice and fame

Monday, June 21, 2010


“I see them”, she said.
“Who?” I asked, a little shaken.
She always had that effect on me.
We were sitting in the verandah encircling “The Villa”, a white, spacious bungalow in the midst of a manicured garden overlooking the Blue Mountains afar, now slowly getting eclipsed by the rising mist. Why it was called "The Villa", I do not know as even to my inexperienced eyes, no overseas influence was discernible in its structure or architectural form.
She sat there with that regal air, like a banished queen; only her throne was now of ordinary, varnished cane, old, shabby and jittery on their legs. She always wore white, a stark reminder of her unfortunate, early widowhood. Her dark mane sliding down her waist in a cascade of black with a few wayward strands dancing in the wind in a serpentine coil around her longish face. The marble white of her complexion was bordering on the pallor. Deep stress lines semi-circled her mouth. Her lips were pursed up in a thin line. Those mysterious dark pools of her eyes trying in vain to hide the hints of worry lining them. She sat with her head tilted to an imperious, arrogant angle defying the world at large.

We were having tea in the fading light of the day. Evenings in the mountains came in surreptitiously, tiptoeing from behind and suddenly swallowing the world unaware. It had been raining since yesterday. The garden looked moist and a darker shade of green with rain droplets dangling from the leaves, making sudden flopping noise in the stillness, as they dripped on the stone driveway, off the slippery cheeks of the leaves, swaying sedately in the evening breeze. Some other times the cool evening breeze would have made me nostalgic. But not today; not when I was sitting in front of her, not when she was speaking to me in that low whisper. I sensed a sudden chill in the air and tightened the shawl around me.

She spoke again softly. I had to stoop a little in front to hear her clearly. The cane tea-table with its assortment of cups and saucers and trays of almost untouched snacks and cookies rattled a little with my weight as I pressed more against it balancing my elbows on its rickety round rim.

“I see them. All of them. Everywhere. The silent shadows. They stare at me from dark corners and watch me from behind when I am cooking. Sometimes when one of the doors is left ajar, they sneak a peek. They are everywhere. “She said in a flat, matter of fact tone as though she were referring to the vegetable seller who came every morning with his cartwheel to sell vegetables door to door.

These weird tales were not new as she had often recounted encounters with flimsy white nothings swishing past or keeping a watch over her in the quiet of the afternoons and silence of the night, sometimes, even during lonely mid-mornings when the hills silently brooded over the transience of everything worldly. She said they were omnipresent. In the beginning, I blamed it on an idle, over-imaginative mind. But after getting acquainted with her a little more I realized that those fertile cells were non-existent in her cerebrum. At times, it seemed as though she enjoyed having them around as mute witness to her reclusive isolation. At the same time, I also sometimes wondered whether her cool exterior camouflaged a more disturbed soul with a penchant for the theatrical.

She had come to occupy her ancestral home after having lost her parents and husband in a gruesome car accident. She had had a miraculous escape for which she was not grateful to the Almighty. She was the only child and having nobody else to call her own or family, she decided to continue living an unassuming life in the lap of the hills. I wonder would she have resorted to any other alternate arrangement had the circumstances been different or offered more choice. I think not. But anything about her always ended like that, in vague conjectures, in the absence of finality of a confirmed answer.

"The Villa", comprising of two floors with five bedrooms, a living room, a drawing-dining hall, kitchen quarters and an outhouse in an oblong stretch of garden, did not strictly measure up to a sprawling mansion. Yet, it was a little "too big" for a loner. In the beginning, the elders of the community had suggested necessary renovation to the structure to accommodate families with known links as tenants or a paying guest or two. But she made it quite clear that in the existing scheme of things, she considered such propositions as intrusion in her privacy. The solicitous suggestions stopped soon to be taken over by vagrant rumours of a figure in white stalking the grounds in the dead of the night. On insistent probe, she complained of occasional sleeplessness. I suggested medical help and names of a few known physicians near about. Whether the suggestion was taken and acted upon or not I do not know. But after a while the rumours died a natural death never to be raked up again by "over-considerate" busybodies.
There was nothing in common between us. I knew we were the targets of many a jeers of wagging tongues. The Haughty (she) and the Dowdy (me) were the ones that took to the fancy of the local gossip mongers the most. As the nicknames implied we were poles apart in nature as well as station in life. I had come to accept my age and average appearance for a long time now. She always had a nose-in-the-air stance which did not go favourably with her critics. She almost led a life of a recluse and seldom attended any community programmes or gatherings. I had embraced celibacy by conscious decision after a mishap, early in life, but was a part of a large, cheerful family which in addition to my parents and a horde of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, also included four servants and three dogs. In normal situation, we would have shunned each other's company but for an overly social and caring disposition of my father who made me pay weekly evening visits to "The Villa” to give company to the one and only single woman residing all alone in the vicinity having nobody to look after or care for her. It wasn't in me to disobey the dictates of my patriarch however mildly and placatingly intoned.
Hence, I the Good Samaritan and the late afternoon tête-à-tête over fragile cups of tea seasoned with spooky tales of the "silent watchers". On earlier occasions, I had tried to either ignore or rationalize on these creepy anecdotes to the icy contempt of the gory story teller. By and by I relented to her staunch conviction of their benign presence around her and just listened in silence to the drone of her litany. At least there was something to listen to as otherwise the monotony of conversation would veer around monosyllabic exchanges.

But today it was different. The sky was deepening into more somber shades of grey. The exiting sun played a weak peek-a-boo behind the dark clouds in the horizon. The breeze blew in the garden-smells and the sounds of the insects gearing up for their nocturnal adventure as night approached stealthily. It grew chillier as the colourless afternoon melted into dusk, dusk into early evening and the evening shadows gradually deepened in anticipation of the approaching night.

I prepared to leave. The social faux pas had extended a little too long. I was about to bid her a cheerful good night when she muttered, “The other night they were all there standing in a row pointing gnarled, bony fingers at me while I was preparing to retire to my room after dinner. It seemed they wanted to tell me something?" "Did they?" I could not help but ask, wanting to sound casual but the question to my utter surprise came out as a hoarse whisper. "No", she sounded impatient. She had this most annoying habit of not making eye contact while talking and always had a far-away or seeing-beyond-you look while addressing people. At this moment, she was staring at the far end of the garden.
It gave me a start. I was about to get up when my left leg caught something under the table. I floundered and would have fallen headlong but for the tea table inbetween. I straightened the table with one hand but could not prevent the tray with its varied mix of cutlery and eatables from toppling over. The crash resonated in the stillness with increased frequency. She did not move. Her vacuous eyes were staring at the horizon as though she were not there. I picked up the shards of the broken china now inextricably intermingled with the scattered pieces of snacks and cookies, mumbling an embarrassed sorry. Courtesy demanded that I put the debris back in the kitchen bin. But the house had such an unwelcome air about it, that much to my own uneasy astonishment, I could not make myself crossover the threshold and walk inside. I decided otherwise and stood up to go. My knees shook a bit which I attributed to the initial stages of arthritis and bade her quick adieu before staggering out by the garden path.
As I shut the garden gate behind me I had the odd feeling of being watched over. I turned back. The curtain on one of the first floor windows was slightly drawn apart, softly moving to and fro in the cold evening breeze, allowing a slit of a space to sneak in between. The room was dark beyond and though nothing could be made out, nonetheless, I had a strange feeling that a pair of unseen eyes were staring at me from behind the billowing drapes.
I brought back my gaze forcefully down to the verandah. She was still sitting there erect and unmoving, her eyes fixed at a point far beyond human vision. Her lips were moving slowly as though in conversation with somebody invisible standing next to her. At that moment I had an uncanny feeling that all was not well with her and it was quite possible that the restrained grace and poise of her demeanour concealed a mind wavering on the realms of the real and the unreal, if not completely deranged - a bitter fall out of a traumatic past and untimely loss of near and dear ones.
The path to my house ran along the circumference of "The Villa". Though born and brought up in the hills, a brisk trot up or down the hill made me out of breath very soon. I was therefore given to sedate walks. But today I had an unexpected desire to run the distance. As I tried to traverse the spherical bend as quickly as possible, night descended with a speed as though competing with my gait.

It was just the beginning of winter. But the cold had spread early. It was a very funny cold, which crept up through the ground below, freezing the bones and arresting movement. The over laden sky, the silent echo of the hills, the rain soaked pine forests flanking the pathway and a fast deepening cold night lent credence even to the most unbelievable, bizarre drama.

It was an hour's walk to my residence, taken up as a deliberate exercise to shake off some of the calories which fondness for good food accumulated. Somehow the walk seemed longer tonight. The first quarter was taken up to circumnavigate the bungalow. As I walked past it, the dark unlit windows followed me with veiled curiosity, sending a shiver down my spine.

As I turned the final bend which obscured the bungalow from sight, the moon popped up and the stars twinkled. The hilly path shimmered with a silver sheen. I looked up to find a clear sky. Nature’s whim had made the clouds saunter by leaving the night colder. I trudged along...........I had to reach my destination fast.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The letters brought in a whiff of fragranceful romance long awaited and craved for but never really experienced in its complete veracity. Life had been a never ending march of Draconian drudgeries where emotional entanglements were perceived as luxurious extravaganza and hence kept at bay. Habits of a middle class existence die hard! This chance penmanship, though a refreshing and much needed change, could not, therefore, bypass the scathing scanner of heavy handed pragmatism and hard hitting realism. In the beginning, the words, however endearing, seemed superfluous. Every letter was carefully weighed and each alphabet critically evaluated by the recipient. The intent and pros and cons of every message minutely delved into and analyzed.

But heart subscribes to no rules. It took much cajoling and coaxing on the part of the writer to disarm the warrior and initiate a soft, supple symbiotic rapport. Of course! The full credit for this strenuous exercise went to the writer’s literary acumen who could at last drag the carcass out of the ashes of a dying fire. The inked words soon overcame all inhibitions of prolonged spinsterhood and lackluster lifestyle. Gradually fond imageries intercepted the magical expressions. The missive became the voice of a faceless persona. Every intonation and inflection of unspoken promise reverberated with intricate acoustics and silence assumed heightened significance and imaginary feel. The time was now ripe. Distant dreams nurtured in the seclusion of lonely nights were soon to become the truism of life. Friendship could not remain subservient to postal fancies any longer. A rendezvous was imperative. Much care was taken to make the first impression favourable and memorable. Though the minds had already met but physical deception could not be allowed to mar the intimacy of consensual thinking.

The wait in the midst of a busy market place was too protracted and attracted attentions of the curious passers by. The hot humid summer’s day rolled by in languid pace. Dusk descended bearing a premonition of ominous doom. The moon drooped down with a fading sheen and tired steps returned home.

The letters stopped. The end was as abrupt as the beginning. A foggy mind exhausted its last remnant of rationale figuring out why it happened the way it did. Days passed by. Days of lonely lingering lament and apathy! The scorching sun breathed a sigh of relief as rains gushed in and flooded the vagabond roads and gullies. It was again a chance occasion that one of the missives, slightly blotched and blurred in places now, carrying a faded address, popped out of a box, stowed away in a dark corner of the store, in a fit of anger mixed with despair.

Hope snuggled once again in a broken heart. An irresistible desire of a second visit could not be suppressed. The journey was too long and tiresome, leaving the comfort zone of a much accustomed cityscape and venturing into rustic mediocrity. At last the destination was reached. A dilapidated shamble in the midst of a desolate landscape; a languishing reminder of an indolent, feudal past stared at the face. The entrance door dangled precariously from broken, corroded hinges. An untended garden with overgrown grass and weed, almost overshadowing the ruins, completed the picture of desertion. A light push drew strange eerie sound. A lazy, brown cat, disturbed out of his nap, let out a contemptuous meaow and strode past. The place looked uninhabited for ages.

A few moments of indecision and a pair of hapless feet were just about to retrace back when somebody spoke from behind,”Who do you want, Didi?” An old man, hunched back and tattered and torn, had appeared out of nowhere. A hurried spate of queries and explanations and the truth spilled over. The abandoned residence belonged to the erstwhile village overlords. Nobody resided here anymore except him, a self appointed caretaker, who had once served the feudal masters.

A few months back a stranger from the city did come over and frequented the periphery for a while. He said he was a writer desperately wanting to have the feel of an isolated existence. The old man pointed a gnarled finger at the cool shade of an ancient tree with thick foliage, “The Babu would sit under that tree and write long letters for hours. Later he would ask me to post them from the village post office which was miles away. I would take the pain in return of a few extra coins. I once asked him who he writes to. He would generally evade an answer but one evening in a state of inebriated leisure he confessed he did not know who he was writing to. It was just that he was building the plot for his next novel which revolved round a lonely lover pining for his beloved. It was important for him to find the long lost lover in his own self to give realistic hues to his fictional maneuver. That is why the letters. It was not at all relevant who it was written to. The choice of recipient was just random. More important and meaningful were the feel, the mood and the temperament. So said the Babu! Strange are the ways of the educated city dwellers!” Sighed the age-worn man and limped inside.

The dark clouds gathering in the horizon gave hints of a torrential downpour. The initial bout was hesitant giving way to a vigorous pour. The aqua bristles were like darts pinching the cold body. But the figure neither moved nor stirred but stood erect in the lashing rain. An almost palpable shame of being used and betrayed crept up her spine and coursed through her limbs spreading through her veins and scalding her skin. Infinite minutes ticked away in the swallowing darkness. At last the dark silhouette swayed and bowed like the blades of the trees bending reluctantly to the whims of a cyclonic storm. She bent over and stooped low. Her body racked with endless sobs. The saline tears mingling in a puddle of muddy water below her feet, seeping into the soil that her toes clutched desperately for support. The thirst-ridden cracks of crusty layers were satiated by an interminable swig of rain and tears.

It was after many, many years that one fine afternoon a bonfire in the kitchen corner saw the end of the luckless affair……….