EDITORIAL: Showers of Creativity!

Hello Friends!

Little showers of rain are greeting us folks here. But, the seasons seem all soaked in a flavor of their own. Just like it is in this month’s edition of Write Space!

For one, we have added two new themes to the already long list of topics that we have at the Write Space platform. The credit goes naturally to the writers who write them and the readers who enjoy reading them! Coming back to the new sections, we have the Interview Section, the first of which will be written by creative writer and friendly soul, Beyniaz Edulji.

The next new section is that of Skit/Drama. The first one appears in Write Space authored by Nuggehalli Pankaja who is well known for her writings in the Southern part of India and of course, with an increasing fan following.


Poetry, Short Stories, Travelogue and Novella complete the other creative part of Write Space this month.
Like always, the current edition of the Write Space e-zine lies unfinished until wonderful reader friends like you surf through the articles, essays and poems and express your feedback.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the pool of creativity and spread the fountain of happiness, joy and enlightenment all around you……
Shail Raghuvanshi
Founder-Editor,Write Space


EMOTION IN ACTION: Selected Sticks by Matthew Horton, USA

matthew horton

the memory stands, framed, on the table, a younger me and you
together, alone consumed by trees,
selecting sticks to serve as guides, a tradition upheld;


we walk and wander lost through speaking forests and emotional paths
strengthened by stretching minds and body
forming and finding us, we move all alone


we both grew and lost us, trees of conversation extinct
we wander without walking, we never leave the room
where did we leave those things we had that one time?


here we stand, an older me and you—
mature, silence encaptures us, our tradition is locked away
again as selected sticks sit unused


after forever lasting, now we walk, lost amongst the trees,
Selected Sticks as our guides
we lose silence snaking the trees to find lost friends finally again.


WALK THE TALK: An Interview with Sadhna Disha Chawla Beyniaz Edulji, Secunderabad, India


Q: You have had poetry published in the US. How difficult or different was it to write in prose?

My first interest in writing developed with poetry, which is a lot to do with an idea that inspires you. Moving from poetry to prose was simply about an inspiring thought on a larger scale. It wasn’t difficult at all since writing is something that flows once you get an idea – the only difference is that a book takes longer to write so the thought process has to be ongoing.

Q: Do you relate to any of the characters in your book? Has this book been inspired by any real life characters in your life?

I would say I share a personality trait with the main protagonist, Diya in the way her thought process moves from a conformist in the initial years to someone who later develops her own mind only after experiencing life. The independent streak that Rukmini portrayed was a bit like my maternal grandmother’s.

Q: Tell us a little about your growing years and life so far.
I’m an army child. My sister and I had a happy childhood. We loved the army life with its peaceful cantonments and protected environments. We did have to move around a lot though and life has remained constantly ever-changing – I am truly living the maxim “change is the only constant”. I did my graduation in Delhi, my MBA from California and now live in Shanghai with my husband and 16 year old son – who is my absolute joy; I am a mind-therapist, past life therapist and a Reiki healer.

Q: You have set your book in the 1980’s. Is there any particular reason for doing so?
I wanted the contrast to bring into young minds a thankfulness that they are born into today’s era. The new generation has so many choices, which were not available to a young girl in the 1980s. Any young girl reading this book now would appreciate the fact that she is able to create her own path that she does not have to go through years of the soul searching that Diya, the main character had to, in order to come into her own.

Q: How have you managed to strike a balance between writing, working and making time for your family?
Quite simply, by being organised. My husband travels a lot which means that I am most of the time, a single parent. So I have learnt to plan my day meticulously and when I started writing this book I allocated a certain number of hours to writing. Of course sometimes inspiration strikes while you are in the kitchen! So I keep my laptop open to my current work at all times.

Q: What is the one life experience that has defined you as a person?
The constant changes in my environment gave me an opportunity to understand that no matter where one goes, human nature remains unchanged. Whether it is the extreme West – the United States or the Far East – China, people are all the same. This belief was brought into clarity and greater understanding of life when I was led to my spiritual guru in Delhi. That was actually the turning point of my life and many questions were answered.

Q: Being born in India, how difficult was it to adjust to living in America and China?
When I moved to the US there was a vast contrast between India and America. So it was a bit of a culture shock, which I have described in this book through the main character’s mind. Adjusting in Shanghai has been easier mainly because the world has become so accessible through modern means of communication. The only difference is the language, I have had to learn Mandarin which is not an easy language but the people are helpful and the city is beautiful.

Q. Many novels have been transferred to the big screen. Do you think this book has the potential to make a good movie script?
I think it has excellent potential; it’s got drama, romance, subtle humour and a strong female character as the main protagonist – the ingredients are there, I just need a chef to put it all together!

Q: What are you planning to write next? Is it very different from this book?
I have started another novel and yes, it’s totally different from this book, it completely reflects the woman of today as well as gives the reader an insight into how a man thinks!

Set against the backdrop of a high-society family in the late nineteen eighties, Tea in a Porcelain Cup moves between India and the United States in a, now bygone, era when parental obedience was a foregone conclusion, owning a Maruti 800 was a status symbol, divorce was a four letter word and marriage the sole ambition of a girlâs existence, when traditions were meticulously cultivated; to the detriment of the protagonist, Diya. Will she draw strength from her strong lineage Rukmini her unconventional grandmother and Nandini her quietly stoic mother, and the enigmatic doctor Suryaveer, or does she accept the soul-suppressing rituals artfully disguised under the garb of tradition?


TRAVELLING PLACES: Holiday in the USA – Part 1 by Vimala Madon, Secunderabad, India


As an irregular traveller to the US – we were doing this trip after 23 years (in Behram’s case) and 14 years (in mine) – I fail to understand how frequent visitors enjoy the long hours of flight to this vast continent spread across 5 time zones.
We have flown so many times to Europe and never really felt any jet lag. But coming here, the 10 ½ hours’ time difference with our systems. We gained a day, not that it made any but the worst difference. Our body clocks went absolutely haywire and for the first 10 days we were unable to sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours the whole night. We would be so full of sleep, so tired, but would drop off only around 11 pm, only to wake up at about 2 or 3 o’clock and be quite unable to get back to sleep after that. I mean, you have lost more than an entire week of having a good time. It hurts even now the think of that first Tuesday, 3 days after our arrival, when we were invited to a barbecue, and instead crashed out at 4 in the evening and came to only at midnight, and then, we couldn’t go back to sleep.
At first we thought this strange insomnia may have something to do with our advanced years, but then our friend’s daughter, who had also returned from Hyd around the same time as we did, and is at least 20 years younger to me, besides having lived in the US since she married 27 years ago, had herself taken more than a week to revert to normal.

My husband’s two siblings were our hosts in Los Angeles which was our base. They drove us around most of the city of LA, itself a megapolis with a 100 cities within the county of Los Angeles. We drove through Hollywood and Beverley Hills and past the mansions of Bel Air; we photographed ourselves on Sunset Blvd, traced the hand and footprints of famous film personalities outside Grauman’s theatre. We drove along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, past Malibu, looked up at Jean Paul Getty’s mansion atop a hill, coasted through the pretty towns of Santa Barbara and Solvang, the latter a Dutch prototype village complete with windmill and a European look about the streets. There were lots more to cover in LA which we put off for later.

We spent our first weekend with friends of my brother-in-law in their beautiful lakefront desert home on the fringes of the Mojave desert. The lake was man-made but filled with water from an underground river, the Mojave, which once upon a time flowed overground. To reach this place we took the historic Route 66, which was used in the early 20th century to escape the Dust Bowl of Central America during the Great Depression to the land of promise that was California. Today the road is unimpressive and resembles any of our run-of-the-mill state highways, complete with potholes, and runs for a major part beside railway tracks on which rolled goods trains pulled by 2-3 engines and more than a 100 wagons.

The weekend was a lovely way to begin our vacation especially because Chuck and Mary Alice were wonderful hosts who cosseted us, fed us delicious meals and regaled us with stimulating conversations and easy banter.
Some real shopping was done, and a lot of window shopping, skimming by clothing and other goodies. Not that most of what we saw couldn’t be bought back home, but one tends to balk at the Dollar equivalent that has to be shelled out. Of course, there are designs that one would not find here and that was the USP I kept looking for. Behram found some very good quality and reasonably priced shirts but left them reluctantly because they were made in Pakistan and he wasn’t going to help their ISI fund terrorists with his money.

Our desert sojourn, before that our exploration of the city of LA and its outlying inner cities, while at the same time trying to recover from the awfullest jet lag ever, accounted for the first 10 days of our 45 days’ holiday in the US.
The next 10 days took us to the other side of the country: New York, Delaware and Atlanta in the south-east. New York is an experience in itself, not to be missed for its multiple ethnicities, its vibrancy, its public transport (which is practically non-existent in most parts of the country including and especially LA), and the fact that this city never sleeps.


New York offered us what we had come to see and more, except that we could not cover a show on Broadway and the Niagara Falls. But the Museum of Natural History was a marvel. Then there was Ground Zero and its environs, including the 200 year old church in close proximity to the destroyed twin towers which had remained intact, the ferry crossing to and from Staten Island, Times Square in all its neon colours, lights and vibrancy, Central Park equally vibrant in the glorious colours of fall – from yellow to orange to russet and bronze, to deep reds and maroons. Committed foodies that we are, we savoured the New York hot dog the city is famous for, missed eating at the Wok and Roll but enjoyed an awesome Chinese dinner in China Town, and a sumptuous Brazilian feast with succulent meats of every kind brought on skewers to your table and slices carved out before you just as you would wish. One of these wonderful evenings ended with stein upon stein of beer served in McSorley’s Ale House, estb 1854, loud and noisy as only an Irish pub can be, its walls decorated with historic memorabilia and plastered with newspapers reporting important events of days gone by, including the sinking of the Titanic.


But best of all was the way we were looked after by our hosts, the son of a very close childhood friend of my husband and his lovely Brazilian wife. They were planning to relocate to San Francisco by the end of the month and Jaivanth had quit his job, but the time which he should have spent in packing and winding up he used up taking us around despite our insistence that we could manage on our own .And because of him and his wife and his brother we got to see things and places that we would not have known about, the old Ale House for example.

During the week we also undertook a 2 hour bus ride to Delaware to attend the 13th day ceremony of an old relative who had passed away in her daughter’s home. From NY we flew to Atlanta to attend a African-American wedding. The bride, Yyanisha, was marrying the father of her 4 year old son. She was beautiful and tall at 6’1”. Her husband Anthony was 6’8” and her son Brock at 4 years was already 4’ tall! The 3 bridesmaids matched the bride in height, all of them having been models earlier. Behram was completely bowled over by Nisha’s beauty but was cautious enough to realise that thirteen feet of father (6’) and husband could pulverize him into nothing.

The next leg of our holiday was to explore as much of California as we could. Meanwhile Behram has begun to sound very smug and annoying saying that he had taken me to a funeral and a wedding in the US, what more could anyone want.

NOVELETTE: Dr. X and Mr.Y – Part 3 (Dinner at Dr. X’s Castle) by Sabarna Roy, Calcutta, India

Chapter : 1
The Food Security Bill is due for passage in the monsoon session of the Parliament. There is a group of economists and corporate lobbyists who are opposing this bill and terming it as the handiwork of the poverty industry. I am a bit amazed by the term: Poverty Industry. What does it represent: A commercial organization that runs on and around poverty? Can there be a commercial organization which can make benefits and profits out of poverty? It is a bit bizarre to think of such an organization. One can imagine activists and organizations in support of the causes of the poor, but lobbyists for the poor are unheard of and unthinkable.


These economists and corporate lobbyists in my mind have created an imaginary monolith and termed it as poverty industry to spread their venom. They have a separate agenda. They are essentially propagators of a development agenda which thrives on industrialization, urbanization, commodization and institutionalization of man’s existence.


You may ask me: Whether I am a supporter of the Food Security Bill? I do not understand the complexities of such bills, but what I do understand is that the Indian population needs a legislation that guarantees them two square meals. Surprisingly, there is a lot of debate surrounding: what is a full meal, what is a nutritious meal, and what causes satisfaction of hunger and what causes malnourishment. You could eat a meal that satisfies your hunger comprising hundred percent carbohydrates, but that does not suffice your requirement of nourishment which also requires proteins and vitamins.


There are Government statistics to show that the number of people going hungry is reducing; there are Government statistics to show that the number of people going malnourished is increasing and there are Government statistics to show that people who are not being able to access minimum requirement of food is also increasing. Which statistics should be considered and which should not, depends on what is your agenda. For example, urbanization and industrialization itself are under attack from the point of view of sustainable use of land for agricultural purposes and long-term sustenance of the environment. There are propagators of zero development economies which sound very attractive on paper, but nobody is willing to return to such economies because of the huge scale of sacrifices that are required to be made to achieve such societies and communities and most importantly the powerful oligarchy of the corporate tsars would oppose such a gravitation tooth and nail.

My father used to sell complex pumps. He sold well, reached his targets on time and got himself paid performance bonuses of capital proportions. In a way, I can say that I come from a privileged affluent family. My father was a strict disciplinarian, almost bordering on madness. He would only push me for my studies and would not allow me to play a game of football, which I dreamt of almost day and night. My mother was a trained classical singer, but my father would not allow her to sing outside of home. He did not even allow a male musical teacher to come near my mother. He was an extremely weak and insecure man as I can understand today remembering the ways he used to deal with us. He traveled very rarely with us, although he would be away on his sales and marketing trips all around the country.


What I am grateful to him is: the marketing techniques that I must have inherited from him. In his later years, he was given into melancholy. He would use sleeping pills to induce sleep and remain cut off from reality. It was then during those weak moments of his that my mother and one of my uncles would beat him up with broom sticks. I do not know why I used to feel sorry for this man who had almost never allowed me to play my most favorite game. Tears would well up in my eyes as I saw him getting hurt, his skin reddening and his face contorting in pain; although I never resisted my mother and uncle from hitting my father. Then all of a sudden, he went missing from our home and we could never trace him back to where he had gone in spite of some of the feeble half-hearted attempts that my mother and uncle had done.

As I reminisced these stray thoughts, I was halted by a separate chain of thinking namely: What should I wear to the dinner occasion at Dr. X’s residence? I am sure, conversations during this dinner will throw some light on why Dr. X is pursuing with me? Dr. X lives in a modern castle decorated with vaults, domes and marble carvings and from what I can guess from the outside the castle would be flushed with modern upholstery, furnishings, lightings and other gadgets of comfort.
Chapter: 2
There were many, many food items I was offered at Dr. X’s dinner; half of whose names I didn’t know. I was confused what to eat and what not to. Dr. X guided me well in choosing the right dishes in appropriate quantities. In the dessert section, there were many items and there was one which is a favorite of mine: mango soufflé. Between mango soufflé and sipping a cup of cracking Darjeeling tea, Dr. X and I had an interesting conversation which I reproduce below:-
Dr. X : Mr. Y, there is an emptiness in your life!
I : There is an emptiness in my life, but whose life is devoid of emptiness!
Dr. X : You have a specific emptiness.
I : Like?
Dr. X : Like, you have a specific longing for a person. A woman. A very deep longing.
I : Dr. X, you are wrong. I am alone. I wish to remain alone. I long for nobody.
Dr. X : Don’t you miss children in your life?
I : No, not at all. I never wished to be a parent. Responsibilities of parenthood have always disgusted me.
Dr. X : Don’t you ever miss normal family life?
I : What is normal for you may be abnormal for me. Somebody had clinged to me for fifteen years without a day of respite. Today, I am enjoying my freedom.
Dr. X : Why do you dream of Paromita, then?
I : Will you intrude in my dreams as well?
Dr. X : The question is not that.
I : What is the question then?
Dr. X : The question is: Whether you dream of Paromita or not and if you do, why you do so?
I : Why are you asking me this question? Will you rob me of my privacy? If my privacy is gone, I will be living in an animal farm.
Dr. X : Because, Mr. Y, I want to understand your life. I am your counsel. I want to protect you.
I : I do not think, I need any protection from anybody.
Dr. X : You might, you don’t know as yet. Life is cruel outside this comfortable castle.
I : I have enjoyed the bodies and souls of many women in my life. Dr. X, why do you ask of only one?
Dr. X : Because you dream of her, because you dream of she and you walking down a mysterious valley which ends with a beautiful lighted cottage at its edge.
I : Have you fully penetrated into my mind?
Dr. X : Not quite. But your eyes are very expressive. Some of your dreams are still reflected on your irises. Now, tell me something about Paromita: how was she different from the others. She was not too beautiful as far as I can remember.
I : Dr. X, when you have enjoyed many beautiful bodies, what you deeply long for is a beautiful soul. Somebody with whom, you can rob a bank. The problematic question is that of a combination of a beautiful body with a beautiful soul. The soul is deeply embedded in the bowels of our body. You cannot see it. You cannot feel it permanently. Only sometimes you can have a glimpse of it. With Paromita, I could glimpse her soul. In spite of knowing my womanizing vulnerabilities, she was ready to give her up to me permanently for ever. She loved my body but she loved my soul, my essence. I had a child with her. I forced her to abort. She left me for ever.
Dr. X : So, you dream of her now.
I : Dr. X, dreams are not of our own making. They come and go. I also dream of my father, who vanished from my life all of a sudden. Paromita has also vanished from my life all of a sudden. She never gave me a second chance.
Chapter: 3
Bodies and souls perish in death. Life is one and integral. There is a complete absence of return in life. You cannot rewind scenes and moments, neither you can have a rehearsal of your life. Life is what that is spent and is irrevocable in nature. I do not know what I am making of my life. Many a times, I want to die but I do not have the courage to pluck my life. So, what I do is: live on without a direction in my life. Earlier, I had two poles in my life – one was to take care of my sick wife and the other was to make repeated conquests on women. They engaged me in two different directions and kept me involved in the motions of life. Now, I have lost the pace and fancy to lead from one day to the other.

What surprises me most is: where does Dr. X come from – from the outside or the inside? It is important for me to know that. Until and unless I have answer to this question, I would not learn to tackle Dr. X. Is it true that our minds exist in three layers – conscious, subconscious and unconscious? Can there be an unconscious part of the mind? Is this true?


Dreams are often linked to the subconscious part of the mind. Dreams are also linked to the unconscious part of the mind. How is it determined that which part of our life will enter which part of our mind? How does the subconscious and the unconscious portions of our mind reflect images while drams are being made? I am amazed by the functions of the movie maker of our mind. There was a point in time when two dreams would come up before my mind’s eye night after night. They are – (1) I am flying a red gigantic kite alone in a limitless valley against the back-drop of an ultramarine sky overcast with low flying cotton-ball like clouds and the kite looking like a red star shinning in the sky among the tufts of clouds. It is day time. I am happy, smiling and joyful; (2) I am falling like an astronaut in a limitless well – pitch-black and frightening. I am palpitating and hyper-ventilating.


Surprisingly, these two dreams would come back to me in uneven sequences. It is not, as if, when I would be happy, I would see the happy dream and when I would be sad, I would be seeing the frightening dram. My seeing these dreams would make no sense to me, but I would be very happy to see the dream with the kite and very anxious to see the dream in which I fell relentlessly in a tunnel through the centre of the earth.

Should I share my dreams with Dr. X, the next time I meet him?

……to be continued

HA! HA! HUMOR: Gossip by Lela Marie De Al Garza, San Antonio, Texas


A demon lifted his head and scented the air. Ears were waiting, and there was damage to be done. With a flutter of wings and glance in each direction (which way did the winds of rumor blow strongest?), he started work…

Who knows where Mary Elizabeth got her information? Did it whisp through the air and into her extended, listening ear? Did she see something on a face; hear the wrong message in a few casual words?
However it came about, she was on the phone to Mrs. Bresenio in as little time as it took to punch in her neighbor’s number.

“You’re never going to believe what I just found out…Well, I never would have guessed it either, but it happens…these days! And they always seemed…”
“Well, don’t pass it on, of course. You’re the only one I’ve told, and you’re so close….”
“Absolutely. Till someone else says something. It won’t come as any surprise….these things get out–no matter how you try to keep them from spreading…”
But Mrs. Bresenio had no intention of telling anyone. It just happened that her mother was visiting that day, and it’s hard to keep things from Mother..

Sworn to secrecy, Mrs. Bresenio’s mother kept the news to herself–almost. Jean and Alice were her two closest friends, and you tell your friends things. Don’t you?
Jean listened and put her lips together, and nothing of what she’d heard passed them. When Jean said “I won’t tell anyone,” it was as literal as a statement could be.
Alice did just about as well–but of course she told her husband, Mark. “Now don’t say anything about this,” she counseled him
“Sure, he answered.

Mark, unfortunately, was not as reticent as his wife. He let it slip to Naeglin when he came into the office, and Naeglin–well, let’s just say anything that went into Naeglin’s ears came right out of his mouth. Which meant that everyone who came into the office soon knew that what had started out as an unfounded rumor, from Mary Elizabeth’s fertile imagination, was now the absolute truth.

Bill Meyer didn’t suspect a thing. He didn’t understand the sympathetic looks he was getting. He certainly didn’t understand the words “Sorry, Bill. Sometimes these things just…happen…”
But it really got weird when the boss called him in. “Bill…I went through this myself a couple of years ago. If you need someone to talk with…or some time off…”
“Thank you Mr. Pierce–Charles…but I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what everyone is talking about. ”
Mr. Pierce lifted a hand. “That’s all right. Handle this however you have to handle it. Just so you know people are here for you.”

Bill was too bewildered to ask questions, or try to get an explanation. He thanked his boss again and left the room.
Nobody else said anything to him about–whatever it was, and he started to forget about it. Then he got a call from his wife. “I’ve been on the phone for an hour and a half this morning, Bill. With four different people. And I still don’t know what they were talking about. ”
“What do you mean? What did they say?”
“Well…mostly that they were sorry. That they understood. Did I want to talk about it. And when I asked what they meant, they’d change the subject.”
“Something like that is going on here. Don’t say anything to anybody. We’ll talk about it when I get home.”
Bill hung up the phone gently and thoughtfully.

Marcy was less gentle. In fact, she threw the phone across a table. Liz had been so annoying. Talking around and around and never getting to the point. And that damned fake sympathy! ‘Believe me, I know just how it is. But you’ll get through it. We women are strong…”
“We!” Maybe from the same neighborhood; not from the same planet.
Marcy simmered and stewed all afternoon, and by the time Bill got home, she was at full boil. They tried to talk about it, but, really, there was nothing to say. What did it come down to? A few sympathetic looks and mystifying words. No questions, no answers. Not a problem–a non-problem.
Even so, Marcy wanted to keep discussing it. “We need to get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, our “friends” will keep making life miserable for us–and we won’t know why.”
Bill disagreed. “Let’s just drop the subject. Probably this is the kind of thing that will go away on its own. If not–we’ll find out sooner or later.”

Marcy knew her husband was right–and they didn’t talk about it anymore. In fact, they didn’t talk again that night, and they slept turned away from each other. This happened. It didn’t happen very often.
Things were all right–almost all right–in the morning. One bad, weird day out of so many good normal days? Not such a big deal.
Bill was apprehensive when he got to the office, but there were no more looks or words he couldn’t understand, and he began to relax.
Marcy didn’t get that chance, because the phone started ringing at eight. She let the machine pick it up but heard her mother’s voice and answered.
“Hi Mom; how–”
“Why didn’t you tell me?! Why should I have to hear something like this–”
“Like what? Mother what did you hear?”
“Oh come on! It’s not that bad. Your Aunt Vivian was divorced, and so was–”

“Sally Higgins at the beauty parlor set it slip. Then she realized I was there and hearing every word she said.…”
“Who’s getting divorced?”
“Why…I assumed…”
The pieces finally fit, as Marcy realized what all this was about. “You think Bill and I are getting a divorce!”
“You aren’t?! But Sally…Marva…Mrs. Hig–”
“Mother! Listen to me!”
It took Marcy some time to convince her mother that no divorce was in the works. More time to persuade her to call her friends and squelch the rumor.
Finally Marcy was satisfied that this thing was going to stop. And she could have been right, especially since Bill’s co-workers were beginning to realize their mistake.
It all might have died a natural death…but–

What whisped through the air and into the ears of MaryElizabethCarmelPhillipsMeredithShue? A rumor or the ghost of a rumor? Or the ghost’s shadow…?
“Bill’s seeing another woman.”
“I heard Marcy was meeting a man over in Hilton.”
“Wasn’t there something about an internet spouse-swapping club?”
What followed was a bevy, a parade, an epidemic of phone calls–only one of which was to Marcy. This was her frantic, hysterical mother.
“No he isn’t!”
“No I’m not!”
“No we aren’t!”
This time it was no use. Marcy’s mother was already convinced. And the phones continued to ring.

Bill was greeted with smirks, raised eyebrows, even a couple of winks. His boss met him with a cold stare. Bill didn’t know whether to leave immediately or stand his ground and demand an explanation. His cell phone rang before he decided.
Marcy could barely speak, but Bill finally understood. The man his wife had loved and leaned on for years was helpless in the face of this unseen viciousness–but he tried one last show of strength.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m going to find out. And–I promise you–I’m going to stop it.”
Of course he was never able to find out anything–much less stop it. Rumors thrive on no nourishment, thrive in a vacuum. But grabbing them, holding them, squelching them, is less than possible. Especially for the innocent.

The following month Bill moved out of the house he and March had shared for twelve years. (“…pity…” “…good thing they didn’t have children…”)
A few weeks later March filed for divorce (“…“Well, what choice did she have?”…”these days”…
…”Marriage isn’t what it used to be…”
Telephones still ring, and the same tongues move–but to different tunes. Gossip is not interested in history, but needs fresh fuel. And finds it. …(“The Martin girl…seen with that no good Brighton boy… ” “ “she could be”…”…”she’s probably” …”That far along?…”

The little demon laughed and stretched his black, leathery wings. Eagerly he flapped them and flew into the dark, waiting air. Time, once again, to get to work.

DRAMATICS: Phone War by Nuggehalli Pankaja, Bangalore, India


(Note: – This was written when Mobiles were not the rage and phones would be ringing night and day… Suddenly, the phone rates went up, and everybody was worried.)

“Phone calls have become costlier”-I informed my wife gravely. “We better practice austerity from now on…………”
“Yes” she agreed quickly (Too quickly, I felt) and added-“You must also cooperate”.
“Me! How?-I was bewildered at the boomerang.
She seemed to have quite a list—the way it was said!
“First of all, stop ringing up your China-vast brood. . . . .” clearing the throat, she began.
“What do you mean by brood? Like a group of clucking hens?” I became aggressive.
“Who else but your dear brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grannies and tathas? Long string of nieces, nephews, cousins? A mini gurukula! Disturbing at all hours!

Worse than marrying a doctor!” she vented her grievances.
“Then, it is they who pay for their calls, not me as such. How does it come under our ‘Telephone budget?’ I pinpointed.
“But you follow up each call thrice! That’s the trouble! You have become a sort of help-line to your family!” she re-pointed out in turn.
“O.K baba, I will cut it down; Then, how about your daily gossip with friends?
For hours and hours? My, it has become a ritual!” I attacked her.
“Do you know how much of auto-charge and time is wasted while commuting? All this is saved by those calls!” She had the answer ready.
“O.k. But surely you can stop ringing upstairs, downstairs, left side, right side, for each and every sundry thing? Why don’t you go and knock at their doors? ”I retorted, refusing to be defeated.
“With these electricity moods? No sir. I am afraid of being stranded in a lift. I may get murdered! Surely you are following the news about FLAT-MURDERS in the newspapers?”
That’s the only news my wife reads. Now she shuddered, prey to many premonitions. I tried another method. “There are the stairs you know” I enlightened her. “By using them regularly, you will become slimmer and prettier” I tempted her. “Remember what a superb figure you had when I married you?

Good Lord! These modern wives! They are born smart! They don’t fall into baits that easily.
“Remember, I have heart troubling genes” she emphasized. “The doctor has advised me very strongly to be extra-careful. That is, if you want me around.”
“The least you can do is to curtail your calls”. I tried another line. “Very often I find you both, mother and daughter exchanging recipes. Can’t you write it in letters?”
“Letters! She was aghast. “Do you know what you are talking about? In which century are you? Who writes letters nowadays? It is not fashionable!
“Letter-writing is an art I educated her. “Develop it and pay your homage to Devi Sarawati! Begin with postcards.”
“Even to neighbours?” she looked at me incredulously.
“Especially to neighbours” my voice was firm as I laid down the law. “I am off to the post office now only to purchase a hundred post cards, and you can scribble as much as you like……….”

“You mean even two lines like ‘Did the maidservant come today for work? Is water running today in the taps today? Is there electricity today in the house? Have the onion prices dipped? And spicy questions like ‘Who eloped with whom? Latest gossip, sari purchased, T.V programmes and the like?’”

“Do you know how much of phone-bills these one or two sentences come to? And do they stop at that? Each of you women’s small talks snowball into quite a story, and by the time it ends, the milk would have boiled over, the breakfast is burnt, cooking, washing, all unfinished! Now, either you heed my advice and take to ‘postcard-calls’ or I surrender the phone”-I gave the ultimatum.

She has packed up and gone to her mother’s. I am ringing her up night and day. Yes! THE PHONE BILL IS……………Don’t ask me please…….!

NOSTALGIA: My Family: A Historical Journey Through the Seasons – Part 2 by Afzal Moola, Johannesburg, South Africa


foozaThe account uptil now: 


Part Two: Spring

The narrative here is neither chronological, nor is it meant to be a complete history of my family thus far – that would be highly presumptuous of me to attempt – so what you, dear reader, are reading (praise be to your perseverance!) are the disjointed thoughts and memories and anecdotal and other stories that every family shares.

I must state that the facts about my father’s internment and escape are all verifiable using a web-search engine, as are the facts about my parent’s involvement in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, and my father’s subsequent appointment by then President Nelson Mandela as South African Ambassador to Iran (1995 – 1999) and later by President Thabo Mbeki as South African High Commissioner to Pakistan (2000 – 2004) in the newly democratic country that countless South Africans sacrificed their lives to achieve.

My parents often spoke of the privilege that they felt to be alive and return to the country of their birth after spending virtually their entire lives as foot-soldiers in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that included in its ranks giants of South African history – Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Dr. Moses Kotane, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Chris Hani, only to name a few, and with no disrespect meant to the many, many more that I have not named.

The ‘privilege’ my parents spoke about was that they were the ‘fortunate’ ones, the ones who lived to see the non-racial, non-sexist, democratic constitution being drafted, and a South Africa without the crime against humanity that was Apartheid.

So many comrades and friends and fellow compatriots did not live to cast their vote on that glorious April day in 1994, and to see Nelson Mandela being inaugurated as South Africa’s first freely elected black President, a President who represented the whole of South African society.

A Flash Back –

And so it was that I was born in 1972 in an India that had just been engaged in a war with Pakistan, which in turn led to the establishment of a new country – Bangladesh.

India at the time was the in midst of austere Nehruvian Socialism, and my parents who had spent the mid and late-1960′s in Tanzania, Zambia and Britain, were deployed by the African National Congress to India, where my father was the Chief-Representative of the ANC. My early childhood years were spent in India, and I recall the sweltering Delhi summers and the torrential monsoons that offered respite, albeit briefly, from the furnace of the Indian summer. When I was 6 years old, my father was deployed by the ANC to be its Chief-Representative in Cairo, Egypt, and to be the ANC Representative at the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO).This was 1978, and as a 6 year old, I am afraid I have very few fond memories of Cairo – we lived on a meagre stipend and though we lived in an apparently ‘better’ suburb of Cairo called Zamalek, an island on the Nile, the flat we occupied was on the ground-floor of a high-rise apartment block and it was damp, dark, and had the unfortunate distinction of being right next to the apartment block’s garbage-disposal area! This meant a steady stream of litter, literally being flung from the windows of our neighbours in the flats above us, and often landing with a crash of shattered glass right outside our tiny kitchen.

Cairo was also where I had to unlearn the Hindi I had learnt in Delhi and pick up Arabic, which I did as most 6 year olds do when required by circumstance to learn a new language.I faintly remember the Presidents’ Sadat-Carter meetings around the time of the Camp David Peace Accord signed between Israel and Egypt and my days were spent riding my bicycle through the dusty lanes of Zamalek. One memory that is particularly poignant, is that of my mother, with her head in her hands, sobbing as she pined for her two children at the opposite end of the African continent. I remember many days walking back from school and before stepping into our apartment block, seeing my mother through the window of what was my room, head in hands, crying. It is a memory that I carry with me still.

Another indelible memory is when we visited the WWII museum of the battle of al-Alamein, in al-Alamein. Walking past the graves of the fallen in the war against Nazism, we came across many South African names, and I remember vividly how my father explained to me what Fascism and Nazism meant, and how important it was at the time for the world to fight it.
As we walked through the tombstones of the WWII soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained to me how Apartheid in South Africa was a scourge (though not in those words!) like Fascism and Nazism, and how just as the world had joined forces to fight Hitler and Mussolini, we too had to fight against Apartheid in South Africa, and that is why I was not at ‘home’ with my brother and sister.

‘Home’. That was something for a 9 or 10 year old to hear, because I had grown up always being told about ‘home’ being South Africa, which was as distant to me as the stars above the Pyramids. I was aware from as young as I can remember my parents’ sometimes angry insistence that home was not where we happened to be, at a particular time, whether in Delhi or in Cairo, but in distant South Africa. I however, could not understand why ‘home’ was not where I was. In Delhi I spoke Hindi like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our little flat on the 1st floor of a block of flats in Greater Kailash. But then came the move to Cairo, and in no time at all I completely forgot my Hindi, and learnt Arabic like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our dinghy flat in Zamalek.

And then in 1982, my father was re-deployed from Cairo back to Delhi, and suddenly there I was, 10 years old, meeting my old friends and not knowing a word of Hindi! So the idea of ‘belonging’, of ‘home’, of being rooted in a place and time was alien to me from a very young age. I remember dreading when the next ‘move’ would be, given that my parents were political exiles and often having to pack up our few belongings and travelling at very short notice.

I do not want it to sound like it was particularly unpleasant in any way, because there also was the thrill a child has of the packing and the plane rides, and the new places that were so, so new to me.

Cairo and Delhi probably had only the following things in common: the heat, the population, and the fact that both Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser and India under Jawaharlal Nehru were two of the four countries (the others being Sukarno’s Indonesia and Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia) that founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during the Cold War.

……to be continued

STORY SPACE: Embryo of Faith – Part 1 by Annapurna Sharma, Vijayawada, India


“We must reach there on time, make it fast. I am almost done, I’ll just check on him!” Padma hurried out of the kitchen.
She knocked on the bedroom door.
“Arav! Arav! Wake up dear.”
A sleepy voice said, “Come in Mom, the door’s open.”
It was just six in the morning. Arav had no idea why his mother was waking him up so early. It better be something good, he thought.
“What’s up, Mom?”
“Sorry dear, I couldn’t fill you in on this earlier. Today is a very auspicious day, ‘Vaikunta Ekadasi’. I and your dad have planned to take you to the Hindu Temple on Canyon Road. Quick! Duck in the shower and don’t forget to shampoo your hair. Wear these clothes and come down.”
“But Mom, I am on a holiday! What’s about this auspicious day and —?”
“Arav, we are getting late. We’ll talk on our way.”
“Mom, but these clothes —”
Paying little heed to Arav’s protests Padma went down to the kitchen. Subramaniam, her husband was mixing creamer in the coffee.
Fuming and fretting over lack of choice, Arav dashed in for a quick shower.
“Oh Gawd! I have to wear these,” muttered Arav.
“Arav, are you ready?”
He could hear his dad calling from downstairs. He pulled on the clothes reluctantly, then brushed his black hair and stole a glance at the mirror. ‘Hmm!’ He descended downstairs.
“Ah! You look fab,” said his parents in unison.
Padma couldn’t take her eyes off her son, he resembled his dad. Tall, athletic with well-defined jaws and a thick black tuft of hair outlining his face, in his twenties, he looked handsome.
Subramaniam gazed at Arav’s eyes, his thick dark lashes wide open to indicate his displeasure. Doe-eyed, he was so much like his mother.
As his parents stood beaming, Arav felt the family looked square in their clothes. His dad wore a cream-colored silk dhoti with broad golden edges; his mom draped a peach-colored pattu saree with violet zari brocade. She braided her hair and even pinned a rose in it. They were so different from the formal attire they wore to office every day. And his was a complete disaster. His mom’s smirk irritated him.
Padma looked closely at her son. The maroon-colored silk kurta with zari work bordering the neckline paired well with the off-white churidhar, and accentuated his looks. Indeed he looked elegant. She came closer, encircled his face with her hands and knuckled her fingers at the sides of her brow. This she did to ward off bad eyes and this wasn’t new to Arav. Subramaniam chuckled.
“Are we going for a traditional fashion show?” quipped Arav.
“We are off to the temple son,” answered Subramaniam with élan.
Then why this dress-hype? His mother is gone bonkers, thought Arav as they reached outside. His dad refused to allow him to drive, so he jumped in behind. Subramaniam reversed and shifted gear.
As the car sped forward, noticing Arav’s sullenness, Padma asked, “Arav what do you usually wear to the bar?”
“Now you are driving me crazy mom. What sort of a question is that? Dragging me out of bed at this early hour and a trip to the temple in this awful cold, it is I who need answers from you.”
“Now don’t get steamed up. I just wanna straight answer; I will explain the rest.”
“Something cool!”
“And for a swim?”
“Enough Mom! You know, trunks!”
“The dress-code is a discipline followed by any institute, whether school or sport. In Hinduism it is customary to wear traditional attire, at least on special days. And I see no reason for you to sulk.”
Arav grimaced. He was a whiz at computers but he knew zip about Hinduism. He wasn’t in the mood to rationalize.
Subramaniam beamed at his wife’s sharpness. He glanced in the rear view mirror at his son; it was a ‘your mom rules the house’ look. Arav groaned.
Born in a remote village in Andhra Pradesh, in a devout Telugu Brahmin family, Padma and Subramaniam migrated to the US in the early seventies as software pros. They settled in Malibu, California. Their intelligence helped secure scholarships, good education and a job abroad. They had an orthodox upbringing, and had to fight all odds to ascend to this level, especially so for Padma, as girls had less privileges. Persistence and hard work kept them going in a far-away country. In spite of their accomplishments they led a simple life. They didn’t get carried away with the freedom in this new country. They nurtured liberal thoughts and ideas and had never forced any rules on Arav, their only son, who enjoyed a carefree life.
The car cruised westwards towards Calabasas where the temple was located.
Padma went on, “Vaikunta Ekadasi is an auspicious day for Hindus. Lord Vishnu is worshipped on this day and legend says that observance of this holy day liberates one from the cycle of births and deaths. The Vaikunta Dwaram or the Gates of Heaven are kept open. A door like structure is made on the north side of the temple through which devotees enter the inner sanctum —”
Her words fell on deaf ears, as Arav felt there was more to this trip.
They got down as his dad parked the car.
‘Wow! The temple is pretty glitzy.’ It was nearly a decade since he last came here. Padma got down and went ahead to greet a few friends.
Biting his lower lip, a habit of his mother, Arav asked, “What’s going down dad?”

……………….to be continued

EMOTION IN VERSE: ‘If Only’ by Shail Raghuvanshi, Chennai, India


If only she knew
that candies alone do not a life perfect make.

If only she knew
that roving romances do not satiate a starved soul.

If only she knew
that too much sweetness could deaden the zest for life.

If only she knew
that life was not living, death not dying….


……unless the self willed it so.