Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Funny Case of Santa's Tooth

It was a blistery cold night. It was a beautiful white night. There was snow on the doorstep, snow in the backyard, snow on the window panes, snow on the rooftop.....snow, snow snow.....just everywhere. It also happened to be the night when light from the Christmas trees adorned many houses - the night when all the kids in the world tossed in their beds...trying hard to keep their eyes open so they could meet Santa. 

Yes, it was Christmas night. 

One such boy turned right, turned left, sat up straight, bounced on the bed....waiting...waiting....waiting for the bells. He thought not about gifts, he thought not about presents. His mind pondered on something else.

How in the world will Santa come down this chimney? Santa is so....well.....round and the chimney looks so narrow, he wondered. He thought and he thought and the thought kept him awake in his bed. The clock struck twelve. It was midnight. Santa had not come. The boy rose from his bed and quietly climbed down the stairs. The Christmas tree looked bright and beautiful in the darkness. Santa's special cookies were still in the plate. 

He cannot come down this cramped path.....
No way...

Just then.....


The boy froze. Somebody had just come down the chimney. The figure wore red clothes, carried a bag, wore a red and white cap, had the whitest beard that shone in the dark, and the figure was.....OH.....ROUND!!!

"SANTA!!!," the boy gasped. " How in the world can you climb down this narrow chimney? How did you do that?", he exclaimed

"SHHH.....," Santa jumped in surprise. He removed the soot from his rob, tightened his belly and said, " Ho, ho, ho...it's easy for someone of a fit stature like me."

The two stood quiet, staring at each other, neither one blinking their eye. Then Santa's gaze fell on the cookies. How delicious, tempting and crispy they looked...round just like him, with chocolate chips and sprinkles, and icing and  sugar crystals...

"Ummm....how divine...", Santa muttered and slowly headed toward the table.

The soft cottony hands reached the table, fingers twitching to grasp the cookies but just then,

"Ouch....", cried Santa, putting his hand on his cheek.

"What happened Santa?", the little boy exclaimed, having been silent all the time.

"Oooooh....my tooth....it hurts."

"Didn't you brush your teeth?"

"I did, but I ate so many cookies tonight. My mom told me to watch what I was eating. I should have listened to her."

"Your Mommy," the boy laughed. The thought was hilarious to him.

"Yes...my mommy. She loves me so much but she is very strict. I look like her but her hair are much whiter"

"WHAT!!!", the boy rolled in laughter.

"Nick, what is happening? Go to bed", a voice came from inside.

Santa jumped and the little boy jumped too.

"My mommy is here...I should go...She will scold me for not brushing my teeth...I better go....", Santa wobbled as he tried to climb back the chimney.

"Wait....that's my mom....My name is Nick....Your name is Nick too?"

"Oh...is it.....Oh....Okay.....My mom calls me old Nick.....Everyone else calls me Nicholas or Santa." Santa heaved a sigh of relief.

"Ouch...my tooth."

Nick rushed to the bathroom and brought a new toothbrush. 

"Here....Go brush....And remember to floss after that," Nick pulled Santa's cloak and directed him to the restroom. 

"Can I taste just one cookie first?", Santa pleaded.

"No", Nick replied firmly.

"Please....pretty please...please......", Santa insisted.

"I will count till five and if you have not gone to brush by that time, I will call my mommy and....", answered Nick.

Santa leapt up from the sofa, sprang towards the bathroom and shut the door. After some gurgling, and some sputtering, the door opened. Santa emerged....happy and cheerful. The sunny face sparkled and the eyes fell straight on the cookies. Eager steps trotted towards the cookie plate and yearning fingers grabbed the savory delights, munching them ...one, two, three....all gone.

"Do you have some more.....please?", Santa asked Nick.

"Watch what you eat Santa....remember what Mommy said," reminded Nick." And always brush your teeth, okay?"

Santa smiled timidly. " You are a good boy Nick." Santa put some present for the little boy near the Christmas tree.

"Ho, ho, ho....away I go....."

"Wait.....Take your brush Santa."

Santa took the brush and tried to put it in his pocket. He struggled and struggled and a whole bunch of cookies fell out of the pockets.

"Santa.....you have to be nice.....," squealed little Nick.

Santa smiled sheepishly. He hugged Nick and disappeared.

The next morning Nick excitedly told his mommy about Santa. 

"You must have been dreaming Nick. Santa always brushes his teeth. Now you go and brush yours," said Mommy.

Nick smiled. What would mommy say when she would find out that the new toothbrush was missing? Just then he saw a new toothbrush hanging on the tree. Nick smiled. Santa meant to keep this a secret. And a secret it would be, thought Nick. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sad Day in the history of Humanity - Demons slay innocent children today - Where is God?

Today again I wonder if there is God......even if there is a remote possibility of his existence, then why does he let all this happen.....There are only humans and human-demons.....and unfortunately, the human-demons are more powerful than the humans.....It is such a sad day today for the entire humanity.....let terror be gone.....Leaders of the world.....forget votes and vote-banks, forget heaven and hell, forget politics and posts, forget money and riches.....get up and unite.....unite against the beasts who are wrecking hell on peace-loving people....take action against those monsters who are busy brain-washing people in the name of religion and discrimination.....my heart goes out to those parents who have lost the light of their lives.....my heart grieves for those innocent children who went through this horror.....whose lives ended in such violent manner....they did not deserve this.....Stop the violence, leaders...Stop it now.....


कितने आंसू उमड़े आज,
कितने आँगन उजड़े आज,
जो तालीम का घर था कल तक 
वो मातम की तस्वीर है आज 

बच्चों के वापस आने का कल तक रस्ता  तकती थीं ,
उन आँखों में सूनापन है, गुम  आँखों मे  गम है आज 

नेता दुःख जतलाते हैं और ख़बरें खौफ दिखाती हैं ,
खाली  लफ्ज़ और खाली  वादे फिर से बोले जाते आज 

बेगैरत आतंकी हमला करके मौज मनाते हैं 
नेता दीमक की दीवार बनाकर जान छुड़ाते हैं 
हिंसा और हथियार ही जीवन का आधार बनी  हैं आज 
गांधी और मार्टिन लूथर को दुनिया भूल गयी है आज 

एक देश का नहीं यह मुद्दा  यह मसला हम  सब का है 
इक कोने मे  पड़ी सिसकती मानवता हमे पुकारे आज 

कब रुख बदलेगा दुनिया का कब ज़मीर सब जागेंगे 
किस्से बन जाएंगे वो खुद जो किस्से लिखते हैं आज 

जब कलिंग  का युद्ध हुआ था कितना कुछ तब खोया था 
जीत के भी जब जीत ना पाया तब अशोक भी रोया था 
तब पकड़ी थी राह नई  और नई दिशा पे चला था वो 
उस किस्से की सीख को समझो और उस सीख को थामो आज 

अब कुछ तेरा कल कुछ मेरा नफरत सब ले जाएगी 
सूना आँगन खाली  दामन बस वीराना लाएगी 
उठो जला दो उस नफरत को जो सीने मे  जलती है 
गर्म  खून की गर्मी से पत्थर दिल को पिघला दो आज 

ख़त्म करो ये बेरहमी, ये बेदर्दी और दुख का खेल 
ख़त्म करो ये  तेरा-मेरा, ये छीना-झपटी की रेल  
ख़त्म करो अब इस दहशत को कोई गुल और ना मुरझाए 
काले इतिहास की स्याही से अब नए इतिहास को रच दो आज

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Pain remains
nagging, poking, biting pain
pain remains...

After countless day breaks and sunsets
after months and years' ends
after new beginnings begin
pain remains....

After new friends are made
after old friends are gone
after broken relations are mended
pain remains....

After all apologies are given 
after all resentments are forgotten
pain remains....

After the frolic and laughter
after the cheer and chatter
pain remains....

After all books are read
after all poems are memorized
pain remains....

After new words are written 
after new promises are made
pain remains....

After kind words are said
after soothing touches are felt
pain remains....

After new journeys are taken
after new destinations are reached
pain remains....

After all prayers are said
after all questions are asked
after all unanswered questions
pain remains....

After all rituals are done
after all farewells completed
after the final goodbyes
pain remains....

hurting stinging, stabbing pain
Pain remains......

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Transient Joys

Bubbles rising in the air
beautifying the mighty sky
rising and popping,
sprinkling delightful droplets
here and there....

Running after the balloon 
that accidentally slipped away from your fingers
and floats away with wind
soaring high, way beyond our reach....

Watching the solitary cloud which
like cotton ball is carried away by the wind
nudging, touching, overlapping another loner.....

Rejoicing at the sight of the vibrant rainbow
adorning the roof of the earth
filling us with desire to reach it and touch it.....

Budding architects building sandcastles on the beach shore
then watching the little splendors soak and melt in the waves
finding sea shells big and small
and collecting them all.....

Gazing at ripples in the ocean
gentle stirs created by pebbles thrown
on some lazy summer afternoon.....

Painting the sidewalks with colorful chalks
painting the sidewalks with water which dries up before the painting is done
doing it over and over again 
yelling and squealing as the water disappears.....

Watching the changing colors of the leaves
lying on the bed of fallen leaves
stepping on the rustling leaves......

Admiring the giant and puny pumpkins decorating the houses
then catching glimpses of squirrels munching on them 
in your balcony
as they get ready to hibernate......

Fragile snowflakes descending from above
kissing the ground
tickling cold the hands stretched out to catch them.....

Making snowman and throwing snowballs 
squishing the snow with bare hands
feeling the freeze and the numbness......

Transient Joys
Impressions Infinite.....

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Board

"How many times have I told you to be careful with knives! Why were you cutting the vegetables? Where is Khala?," an angry Faiz was complaining to his sister Gul. 

"Khala went to market to sell the baskets. She told me to cut the vegetables," Gul said.

"I wish I could take you to school with me. I want to you learn like I am learning at school," Faiz said as he bandaged Gul's finger. He loved his sister a lot. She was his world.

"Khala says I should learn house work because that is what I am supposed to do when I grow up", replied Gul.

"That's rubbish. My teacher is a Miss. I want you to be like her. Did you practice what I taught you last night?" asked Faiz.

"I did not have your pencil Faiz." Faiz was about to start but Gul added, " I wrote on sand. See", he took Faiz's hand and rushed behind the kitchen. Faiz saw how beautifully and correctly Gul had written everything. 

"How was school today Faiz?"
"Good. My teacher said that the fair is coming to our village next week. We have to go there Gul. Remember how much fun it was last year", Faiz said delightfully.

"Oh yes. We bought balloons and rode on the ferris wheel and played with those big bubbles. And you had loved the baklava they were selling in the fair. This time you get lot of them. That way you can eat them for so many days Faiz." Gul reminded her brother.

"Mmmmmm.......the baklava......so sweet it just melted in the mouth....," Faiz absent-mindedly licked his lips. "But no Gul. We will not waste our money this time Gul. Miss was showing a nice board on which we can write. It does not need any chalk also Gul. It has a pen attached to it and we can write on it and then we can erase it and write on it again. It was so wonderful Gul. Miss said we can get it in the fair. There was that beautiful book stall at the fair remember. It will be selling that board Gul. If we buy it, you can write on it as many times as you want to and we don't need to worry about buying chalks and pencils. Khala will be happy too because she will not have to give us money again and again."

"But do we have money for that board Faiz?"

"We can help Khala and make more baskets. The more baskets she sells, the more money we will get. Come, let us weave some baskets and surprise Khala."

Faiz rushed to the corner where Khala kept all her stuff and started weaving. Gul sat down to help her brother. The two were so lost in the work they did not see Khala coming. She looked surprised but didn't say anything. Faiz got up and gave water to Khala.

"What is it this time Faiz? I cannot buy you anything right now", Khala said. 

Faiz told Khala about the board. She was pleased to hear about it and a little curious too. But with an empty pocket, she could offer no words of encouragement. She asked the two kids to say their prayers and go to bed. Faiz and Gul sadly lay down and went to sleep. 

The next seven days one could see Gul and Faiz busy weaving the baskets. Their little fingers did much work and they ached but their desire for that little treasure made them forget everything. Khala wanted to stop them but she did not want to rob them of their happiness. So she kept quiet and did her work with an even greater spirit.

Hard work does wonders. So does a passionate heart. And here there were two little hearts full of zeal, full of innocence, full of love. Many baskets were weaved, and sent straight to the market. Khala brought in money every night and tucked them under her pillow.

The day of the fair arrived. Faiz was very excited.

"Will Khala give us the money Gul?" he asked.

"You go and ask...."

"Faiz, come here," Khala was calling.

Faiz went to Khala. Gul peeped from behind the kitchen door.

"Take it. Go and get that board. And better hurry up before it's all gone."

Faiz hugged Khala but couldn't utter a word. His happiness knew no bounds. Taking the money, he went out and ran. He ran and ran and stopped to catch his breath only when he had reached the fair. He did not see the big balloons and the bigger bubbles. He did not see the rides. He did not even see the food stall selling his favorite baklavas. He just saw the book stall and that board his Miss had shown at school. After paying for it, he held it in his hand for the first time. He felt its smooth edges. He took the pen and wrote his name. The pen moved like butter melting on a hot pan.....smooth, easy, flowing. It was beautiful. Was that a rain drop that fell on the board or was it a tear from Faiz's eyes. It is difficult to say because the weather was cloudy and Faiz had quickly wiped his face as he ran back home. 

He reached his house and shouted, " Khala, Gul.....look..", and he sat down catching his breath. Khala and Gul surrounded him and asked him to write on the board. Faiz wrote Gul's name. Then Khala asked Faiz to draw something. As Faiz sat there drawing, Gul went inside and brought something from the kitchen. Faiz's eyes gleamed and opened wide in surprise. They were his favorite baklavas. Khala had kept some spare money and got some baklavas from the fair.

"Gul told me how much you loved these baklavas. Did you want to wait for another year to eat them?", Khala said laughing.

Faiz drew a picture on the board - Khala, he and Gul with a plate full of baklavas. And no one erased it for a long time. 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Mummy

"Nanhi Pari, sone chali, ghata dheere aana"....this was the song my mama sang for my newly-born daughter. Her melodious voice has not altered although years and sorrows have worn her down. I still remember my mom singing songs of Lata and Asha while me and my brother sat there listening to her. It all seems as if it was yesterday. The mesmerizing 'thandi hawaein, lahra ke aayein', the haunting 'aaega aane wala', the soothing and sad 'tum itna jo muskura rahe ho', and hundreds of other songs and ghazals were beautiful and melodious to me because my mom used to sing them. Even now I can hear her singing. Maybe it is true that sound never dies. It is her birthday today and after much thinking and searching, I finally gave up the idea of sending any gift. I cannot find anything special for her. I used to send flowers but she says that flowers look good in the garden. Why pluck them? True. What she wants is me and since I cannot go to her, my words can reach her. I can tell her how much she means to me by writing what I feel for her. 

What does mom mean to me? The first thing that comes to my mind is care. When I am sick, I dread calling her because the moment I say 'Hello', she will make out that I have cold or cough. And before I can say anything else, she will say, 'dawai khai kya, halwa bana le apne liye, door baithi hai, yahan hoti to tere liye kuch bana deti.....bachche bhi akele sambhaalti hai......' and so on. I keep smiling while she is saying this and then the question ' pata nahi kab wapas aaegi'. And I think, how I wish that moment was here now - that moment when I could hug mama and sit next to her. The moment when she would tell me endless stories about her past, about the present, and advises for my future.

Mom is love, mom is care, mom is fear too....fear that nothing bad should happen to her children. Mom is wait.....wait for her children who have flown away from her nest, leaving it empty and who she hopes will come back to her. Mom is faith.....she always tries to persuade me that I should say my prayers,that I should believe in God. She knows that after the loss of my father and my brother, my relationship with God has been hostile. But what to I tell her. How do I pray to God. She is my God. She is my strength. If God made her suffer so much, how can I pray to Him. What do I ask from Him? If He is there somewhere and if He can listen, then I will ask for a smile on her face, and music on her lips. I will ask for a basket full of love and happiness for her. 

Mom is good guidance. She is like a lighthouse that will not let you go astray in the dark. She shines from far beckoning you, helping you find your way out of the dark and stormy seas. 

Mom is good food, although my mom has never been a foodie herself, nor is she fond of spending time in the kitchen. She would rather sit and read a good book or watch a good show. Still there are things that only she can make....foods of my childhood , the tastes of which still linger in my mouth and in my memory. Her sweet dalia (mama is going to frown when she reads this....and i am smiling....), her aloo-puri (my staple food I used to take to school....my friends would always guess it.....tu to aloo-puri lai hogi lunch main, they would often say...), her tamatar ki chutney topped on the wonderful namkeen mathis she used to make, her kheer, her matar ke chawal......my mouth is watering now.....no matter how well I try, I cannot make them the way mama does. I am a decent cook myself but their are things that only mama knows. I wonder what her secret is. But mummy ke haath ka khana is ....well....only mummy ke haath ka khana
Mom is wisdom - wisdom that comes from life as it is lived. I remember mama sharing her stories with me and with my friends, telling us what mistakes she did and how we can learn from them. She has so many stories to tell. Stories about her and stories not about her....but stories which tell us that life needs to be lived to its fullest, that one should be prepared for the rainy days and that one should smile whenever he can. She tells me about a life we might have had earlier and a life we may have after this life. I do not know what to say to her about that but all I know is that this is the life we have and in this life she is my mom, my eternal sunshine. My days start when I hear her voice. My days end thinking about her. With pride I show my friends pictures of her childhood and college days. I admire the strong little woman she is and my heart flutters with joy when she laughs. My papa and mama studied in the same college and although they didn't know each other, I like to think that my papa must have had a crush on mama when he heard her sing in the youth festivals. Mama always says no but I like to think it that way. My mama with then famous sadhna-cut hair-style must have won papa's heart. 

Finally, what I am today I owe to her. The way I write, I owe to her because she is my first teacher, my first reader, my first critic. And it need not be said but I still say it that I love you mama. Wish you a very happy birthday and I hope and pray that we are together soon so that we can celebrate our birthdays together. 

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Dima and Dasha

In some remote village in Russia lived two children, Dima and Dasha. Both were very lively and sprightly as most little children are. Their mother and father worked hard to make life easy for their two children. Every morning mama would make soft pancakes for Dima and gingerbread for Dasha. In the night, their daddy read them ancient tales and tucked them in their cozy beds. Dima and Dasha knew they were poor but they felt so loved  that they were always happy and never demanded anything from mama and papa.The village they lived in was a small village where most of the people knew each other. Everybody loved and cared for everybody else in the village. 

One night a wicked magician came to the village. He was so evil that he did not like happy children at all! So when he saw that everyone in the village was so chirpy and peppy, he became furious. He came up with an ugly plan. He thought that if all the elders in the village vanished, the children will be lost and lonely. Then they would become very unhappy. With a mean smile on his face, he swung his wand and said

 By the magic of my wand
All elders of the village be gone
Only he can break the spell
Who is brave enough to reach the well
In which hides a lotus white
Its light will set all wrong things right

He brandished his wand three times in the air.The winds howled and there was a loud thunder. The incantation worked and the village was cursed. The magician went away grinning wickedly. 

Morning came. Dima and Dasha got up. They were surprised that mama had not come to wake them up. Then they thought that maybe mama and papa had some work so they had gone. They came to their kitchen as they were both very hungry. There was some left-overs from the last night but no fresh pancake for Dima or gingerbread for Dasha. 
" It is so strange. Mama always makes fresh food for our breakfast. I wonder where she is, Dima", said Dasha.

"Do not worry sister", said Dima. " They will be back in the evening. Let us go out and play." 

Out the happy kids went to play with their friends. At first, everyone talked about missing  mommies and daddies. But soon the talk turned to play and the play turned muddier and funnier. There was no one to stop them. So they jumped in muddy puddles and ate as many candies as they could find. Then the day waned and the little bodies were tired. They all wanted to go home to mommy and daddy. But where were they? Why had they not returned? They got worried now. Some were scared too as the village was very close to the woods. They huddled together and sat down in one place, waiting, waiting, and waiting. 

Dima and Dasha were there too. They were sad too. What could have happened? Nobody knew. At first they also sat down with the other children and waited. But the wait seemed endless. Their tummies rumbled. Other kids' tummies were grumbling too. So Dima and Dasha got up and said," Let us all go to our home and eat what is there." So off all went to the two kids' house. There was not much to eat but the kids managed to share everything and then sat down sadly. Any sound from outside would startle them as the night was dark, the woods were deep. A mere meowing of the cat or the rustling of the leaves would send shivers down the spine. But what could they do? They were all so little. So they waited and they waited.
Now it so happened that that very night, Baba Yaga Boney Legs, the witch of the forest was passing by that village. She knew the village to be a place of merriment. Being lonely herself, she would often stop there and longingly look at children playing, and moms cuddling their little ones. But today it was so quiet. Why, Baba Yaga wondered! As it was night, her black horse was with her. So she asked,

Black horse rider, what is wrong
Where is the cheer and laughter gone?

The rider replied,

A mean magician has come here
with spell has made the elders disappear
Kids are scared and hungry and sad
All they want is their mom and dad.

Baba Yaga was furious. She at once looked around to see if the magician was there. But he was gone. So Baba Yaga decided to help the children. She took out her mirror, and asked

Wise mirror, wise mirror, look and tell
How do I break this wicked spell?

Light flashed in the mirror and it replied,

Only he who is very small
A little less than four feet tall
Can reach the well 
and break this spell.

The witch at once surveyed the village. Her gaze fell on Dima. He was small and he was sad. Would he be able to achieve the task? Was he brave enough? She had to find out. Just then Dima headed to the kitchen. He was all alone. Baba Yaga descended and whoosh! She fell right in front of him. Dima was startled and he stepped back. Then he looked down. The witch was known to be so ugly that anyone would be scared. But Dima looked curiously and said," That is a funny costume you are wearing. Have you seen Mama and Papa anywhere, by any chance?"

Baba Yaga was surprised. But she tested Dima one more time by making a hideous face.

"Look, I am too worried to be scared right now so quit the Boo game and tell me what do you want?", Dima said at once.
Baba Yaga was amused. She at once told Dima what had happened. 
"Can Dasha, my sister come with me too?", Dima questioned.
"She cannot come with you little boy", Baba Yaga answered.
Dima took Baba Yaga outside to all the children. Some of them screamed and some started crying. Dima shushed them and told them the whole story. He would be going to get the flower from the forest.

Dasha was worried. She at once rushed to her bed and hugged her doll, her companion in distress. The doll had soaked many a tears that had fallen from Dasha's eyes. Dasha took her doll to Dima and gave it to him. "I cannot come but she will be with you. Hug her when you are scared, Dima and come back soon", saying this the loving sister hugged her brother and started crying.
The witch did not like tears falling from little eyes. She took out her cloak and a mirror and said to Dima,

Take my cloak for cold nights
Take this mirror to fight all frights
Take this doll to cheer you on
Hurry to the forest , it will soon be dawn
Come back you should before its night again
To set everyone free from this hateful bane!

Dima took what the witch gave him. As he was about to leave, Dasha brought him few carrots and a packet of chamomile flowers and said," My dear brother, when you are tired, soak a few flowers in water and sip them. Mama says they are very soothing. But do not take a lot or you will fall asleep. And when you are hungry, eat these carrots."

Dima put everything in his pocket and then wrapped himself in the witch's cloak. And off he went deep inside the forest. It was very dark, it was very eerie. Night animals were on the prowl. But Dima cautiously kept going, looking around for the well. Just then, Dasha's doll started speaking,

Look for the fox
Behind two mighty rocks
He can tell
The way to the well!

Dima at once started searching for the rocks and soon he spotted them. He approached the rocks gently. Suddenly, the fox jumped out.

"What is it, boy?"
"Where is the well?"
"Eat my juicy grapes and then I will tell."

The fox put forth a bunch of black grapes before Dima. They were the juiciest and most luscious grapes Dima had ever seen. He was about to take a grape but suddenly Dasha's doll spoke

Eat one grape
You will get late
Eat grapes two
You lose your shoe
Eat grapes three
And the fox will flee!

The fox tempted Dima again by putting a grape in his mouth. The juice dripped from his mouth and he slurped it and said, " Ah......so heavenly!"

Dima was a little boy. How could he resist something so delightful. He put one grape , then another one, and then another one in his mouth. Just then, one of his shoe was flung open from his feet and disappeared into thin air. The fox smiled slyly and vanished too. Dima realized what he had done. He cried,

Oh no Oh no
What did i do!
My dear Dasha
I failed you!!

He hugged the doll and started crying bitterly. The doll spoke again,

Egg on, Egg on
Tears be gone!

Dima wiped his face, and got up. He began his search again. As he was going, a rabbit hopped around him. Dima threw a carrot to him. The rabbit was pleased. He asked Dima what he was doiong in the dense jungle. Dima told him he was looking for a well. 

"It lies under the bark of the tallest birch tree here. But to reach there, you have to cross a hungry angry lion and a fire-spitting dragon. So beware and go over there! " The rabbit pointed to the left and ran into the bushes. 

The thought of the lion and the dragon scared Dima but he had to go. So he walked on. He had lost a shoe so one of his feet felt the twigs and thorns and bled. But he could not stop now. 

He soon reached the lion's den. He decided to move past it as quietly as possible. But the smell of blood from his feet and the rustling of the bushes alerted the lion and out he came roaring. Dima slipped down and the witch's mirror fell from the cloak and broke. Dima quickly picked up the pieces and sadly put them back in his pocket. 

The lion came closer to Dima and opened his jaws. Dima thought he was gone now for sure, but instead, the lion yawned and closed his mouth. " Nobody lets me rest. I have not slept in two months and now you come here to bother me. Let me eat you up and then I will try to sleep." 

He opened his mouth again, but Dima shouted, " Stop, smell this." He quickly put the whole packet of chamomiles in water and put them in front of the lion. The lion smelled them, and yawned. " Oh, that is so nice. So nice, indeed." And he dozed off.

Dima rushed from there. He had to fight the dragon. But how? He had broken the mirror too. He took out the pieces and tried to put them back together. Just then, there was a rustle behind him. The dragon was here. He snarled and came towards Dima. Dima was terrified. He could not think of anything. Unwittingly he flashed the broken pieces in the dragon's face. The dragon saw his own ugly face in the mirror. Alarmed and stunned, he withdrew and ran away. 

Dima knew not what had happened. But he thanked the mirror and the witch and heaved a big sigh of relief. Just then he saw a birch tree that looked mightier and taller than all the other trees. It was the one! Dima jumped up with joy and ran towards the tree. He saw an opening in the tree. He descended straight in the hole and slipped though it. As he reached the bottom, he saw the well and in between the well was the brightest and most luminous lotus he had ever seen. He took the flower at once and hid it inside the witch's cloak. Then he climbed up the hole and ran. He ran with all the strength he could muster. The cloak was floating behind him. The cloak turned into a carpet, and suddenly Dima saw himself flying in the clouds. He flew like a little bird on her first flight, beaming with joy and the pride that comes from winning. He soon reached the familiar village. The carpet floated down slowly and Dima stepped down in front of anxious little children. He took out the lotus and at once, a bright light shone. The sun's first ray fell on it and as it sparkled, all mommies and daddies came rushing towards their kids and wrapped them up in their big, cozy arms.
 Baba Yaga's eyes accidentally dropped a tear and she quickly wiped it away. And off she went leaving to Dima her cloak and her mirror as a gift for the daunting task he had finished. For Dasha, she left a tiny bed for her favorite doll, a gift for the little girl who let go of her prized possession for her brother's well-being.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Bubble-Maker's Son

Bubbles.....those fragile, transient balls of joys. Slowly they rise, slowly they float, and suddenly they pop, causing a sudden burst of laughter among the onlookers. Children yell and scream, many stretch to catch them, to touch them and crack them. Bubbles don't cost much either. Because of so many reasons, and perhaps many more which we do not know, the Bubble-Maker and his son would frequent the park every weekend. Nobody knew their real name. They were called just that- the Bubble-Maker and his son. Children would squeal the moment they saw them and the place would become crowded pretty fast. The bubble-maker would start his magic while his son after first few minutes would go and sit down in a corner and draw something. Often the son would play music on his wooden flute. The ritual would go on for a long time. People would come and enjoy the spectacle of gigantic bubbles the bubble-maker made. They would ask their children to drop in a few coins in the box the bubble-maker kept next to him. Some would be generous to put in a dollar and some would be content by dropping a penny. And the bubble-maker went on with his business. With the money collected, he would buy trinkets for his son - small things like crayons, colors, paint brushes, whistles, balloons - small things that no child could resist. 

There was one more thing he wanted to buy for his son - something his son loved but never asked for - a real flute, for the flute he had did not play so well. The bubble-maker knew his son had talent. Without any training, his son could play tunes he heard once. If only he had a good flute, and a good teacher. 

One Sunday, a well-dressed man in his forties came to the park. Fidgety, and frowning, the man sat near the bench where the bubble-maker and his son would usually sit. He was lost in his own thoughts, rumbling and mumbling to himself. After a while, when the bubbles floated in the air, the loud laughter of kids brought him back to his senses. He looked around. Just then a bubble, a tiny bubble touched his nose and popped. The man wiped his nose quickly. But the bubble had tickled him already. He saw another bubble rise...this one was a giant.....it floated....and floated.....and floated.....and......popped. The kids screamed. The man's ruffled brows flattened. Another bubble.....floating......floating.......floating..but before it popped......flute.....Where?.....Where did the music come from? The man sprang up from the bench and turned around. He saw the little boy playing the flute. Did the music sound like 'Flight of the Bumble bee'? Yes, it did. How could this little boy play it so well. There were discordant notes in between. But they were perhaps due to the broken flute. The man rushed towards him. 
"Who taught this to you son?", the man asked the little boy.
"I heard it and I liked it. So I keep playing it. It is so frisky and lively. Do you like it sir?"
The man did not reply. He opened a case he was carrying. It had a beautiful flute in it. The man took it out. 
"Keep playing. Do not stop, my boy."
The bubble-maker's son was delighted. The twosome started playing the tune together. Music and bubbles created such harmony that it was a feast for the soul. The world became enchanted. When the music stopped and all the bubbles had popped, the man grasped the little boy's hands and shook him with joy.
"I was agitated as I could not find someone who loved the flute the way I did. I was angry that I could not find someone who worshiped music like I did. I wanted someone who played the flute from his heart. You.....you are that someone.....Come with me....let us make music together.....let us create joy!"

The bubble-maker's heart fluttered. His heart swelled with pride for his son. He took out his dowels and made one last big bubble for the day......a might big, beamy brilliant bubble.....just like his son. 

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Friday, October 24, 2014


             Mac was prancing with joy. It was that time of the year again. Time when bells jingled and Santa came! Time when he left his favorite cookies for Santa by his little Christmas tree! Time when mommy would buy Mac presents. Mommy always said that Christmas is for giving and Mac thought that this meant Mommy would give him his present. He got ready and shouted, “Mommy, let’s go!”

“Grab a snack young man and then off we go”, Mommy answered from the kitchen. Mac hurried to her and picked up his peanut butter and jelly toast.
“Hurry up. We will be late Mommy”, Mac squealed.
Off they went, holding hand in hand. As the mall neared, Mac could see the spirit of holiday everywhere. Shops were decorated with Christmas lights. Balloons were everywhere. Happy kids with hands full of presents made Mac even happier. As they came near the toy shop, Mac saw someone sitting outside with a big poster that said ‘TOY DRIVE.
“What’s that, Mommy?”
“They are collecting toys for kids.”
“May be those kids do not have anyone to buy them presents, honey. May be they don’t have money.”
Mac read what was written on the poster as he walked past it. It had names of some kids and their wish-list. One name caught Mac’s attention -‘Sammy wants a red car’.
After a few seconds, he asked, “How many toys can we buy, Mommy?” “You know it Mac. We always buy one toy that you pick.”
They entered the toy shop. Mac saw the building blocks he wanted to purchase. Next to them was a collection of cars. There was a shiny red one there too. Mac remembered Sammy. Just then Mommy picked up the box of blocks. Mac stopped her.
“I want the car, please.”
“Are you sure Mac? You said you wanted the blocks”, Mommy asked.
“Please Mommy! Can I have this car?”
“Okay Mac”, Mommy put the box back and took the car.
As they headed out of the store, Mac pulled Mommy towards the ‘TOY DRIVE’.
“I want to give this to Sammy.”
“Who’s Sammy?” Mommy asked.
“I don’t know. I read it here.” Mac pointed on the list.
“But what about your Christmas present Mac?”
“You always tell me that Christmas is for giving. I think I want to give a present this time Mommy”
“You are such a gem Mac!” Mommy hugged Mac. She took the box and gave it to man collecting the toys.
“Do you want to write a note to Sammy?”, asked the man.
Mac wrote ‘Merry Christmas, Sammy’ and drew a smiley. He wrote his name and gave it to the man. The man asked Mac’s mommy to fill in a little form. After that Mac went home.
A day before Christmas, Mommy asked Mac to come to her room.
“You have a mail, Mac.”
“Who is it from?
It sure was a mail from Sammy - a ‘Thank You’ card that said that Mac had made the Christmas so very special for Sammy this year. The card read ‘Christmas is for giving. You gave me joy by fulfilling my wish. I wish upon the star that your wishes come true too. I send you joy. I send you my love. I send you my heartfelt thank you my dear friend.’
Mac felt very happy. He felt content. He hugged Mommy and said, “Merry Christmas Mommy”.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Its Halloween folks. My son was asked to bring in some Boo messages for his friends and family, so I wrote a few. Feel free to share them with your friends and family. A BIG BOO to YOU!!!

Spooky Spider on the wall
Boos us all, Boos us all !!!

Ghostly Goblin in the Night
Boo him....boo him at first sight!!!

Pumpkin Light
Burning bright
Boos my friend
At 12 in the night!!!

Whining Witch is on her broom
Will boo you when she comes to your room!!!

Frightful Bat is Flying here
to boo you while you sleep in your chair!!!

Boo him, boo her
Boo them all
Monster hiding
In the Hall!!!

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Untanned Feet

It was a reasonably hot August day as I walked towards the park with my two kids. I was looking all around as it was very quiet and despite being summer vacation, no kids were out. My gaze fell on my feet as I bent down to pick something from the ground. And I was struck....it was as if something hit me hard. Was something wrong with my feet ? Well, nothing except that they were untanned.....they bore no mark of the sun's heat. It suddenly reminded me of the time gone by......time that was spent walking ....on sunny days, on rainy days......walking with my precious friends....walking our kids to school, and then walking them back home, spending hours in the park, chatting, laughing, playing dumb charades, going bananas over unintended jokes and puns, resolving our kids' fights , discussing who was going to make what in the next potluck, and somehow always getting stuck over starters.....(shweta....you always got to make some....:)..).....echoes of our laughter still reverberated in my ears......we were best friends and those were the best times.....it was okay to get tanned in the sun, it was fun to bear the brunt of that heat.....and the warmth of friendship kept us cozy as winters came and temperatures dropped.....It seemed to be happening yesterday.......and then, my son called me....and I was brought back in the here and now......in the desolate park......where are the friends gone...........I am sure the sun too misses our sunny chats.......and my untanned feet wait to bathe in the heat again.......

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I like windows......windows that are open....that let the bright beams of sunlight light up my room.....i like windows that let me see the beautiful landscape outside.....green pastures, rainy fields, moving clouds, falling leaves, snowflakes,.......i like windows through which I peep outside and see kids playing, moms chatting, birds flying.....i like open windows from where I am able to hear laughter and happy screams of children.......i like windows that reflect the beautiful insides of houses I pass by on the road......windows that tell me what kind of people live there.....windows adorned with stickers telling me that there are kids inside....playful, lively, energetic...kids whose moms are not fastidious  and enjoy a mess here and a mess there.....windows displaying showpieces brought as souvenirs of the memorable vacations planned with much gusto..windows from which i can see the well-lit chandeliers that remind me of my own home and those chandeliers my dad had bought.....those chandeliers that once illuminated our living room...i like doors too....doors decked with welcome tags, with festoons, with motifs of God....reflecting the beliefs and tastes of the people who dwell inside.....i like doors that open into the ornate interiors of its residents.....interiors demonstrating whether the tastes of the inmates are simple or chich......doors that open into the cozy comforts of rooms that are home to its inhabitants.....i like open doors that emit delectable smells of food cooked with love and care.....i like open doors that diffuse the sweet smelling whiffs of scented candles and pious incenses.......i like open doors and windows.....they tell me stories......i sometimes wish for some secret door or window too.....a hidden passage that would transport me to another magical place......a place where battered souls could heal themselves.....where balmy voices would cleanse angry and jealous hearts......a place which would be like a time capsule taking me back to my mom's songs, my dad's hearty laughter, my brother's vivacious eyes......oh I hear those voices already.....its just that those are not palpable......its just that that door is not real and such window does not exist......but my mind can always create a passage like that one......where i can connect.....a window in my heart that lets me see them all....a door in my heart that will always be open to their memories......

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