I’m excited to tell you all about my new book titled “Different Strokes” gonna release it on September 9th,published worldwide with help of CreateSpace nSmashwords(eBook readers).It will available in Pothi.com(Indian readers) andAmazon.com. “Different Strokes” by Madhu Kalyan,Gunjan Vyas,Sunday Igwebuike. Here’s a look at the cover and a little blurb. — feeling excited with Gunjan Vyasand
I’m SUPER excited today to be revealing my first book “Pebbles- Collection of short stories” cover page.
Here’s what “Pebbles” all about:
Different shapes, colors, textures, and sizes.Just like our life experiences, some are precious, some are ordinary, others heavy, some are light.
ME: I wanna sleep….But I can’t….there’s a computer in the room….and people online…..and just cant.
Sleep please love me? I want you to…but if you don’t then I can never find out how to get to you. So please can you just accept me for who I am, and love me?
I want you to be able to take me away and distract me, and only be able to focus on you…. But you’re not making this easy.
So sleep can you come back to me? And love me like you did before in the past?
SLEEP: No, can’t you understand I don’t love you. And never will. Frankly you bore me now, and I want nothing to do with you. So now get away from me, because I will always be above you and you far beneath me so why should I even try to love someone as pitiful as you?
SLEEP: Didn’t I tell you I would never love you, I will never give you the chance to be with me. You are unattractive and stupid! And should always suffer from insomnia! You will never deserve me.
ME: But, I still want to try. I want to try to reach a level closer to you, just so I can be closer to you. I will change myself for you and only you…So please can you just wait for me?
SLEEP: Die. I hope you just die. I’ll never wait for you. You’ll never reach my level and never will get closer to me. YOU.ARE.A.DISGUSTING.BEING. Drop dead.
ME:…. OK…I’ll do as you wish, and stop trying. But I’ll always be here if you ever want to take me back.
SLEEP: Pfft. Hearing that from you that’s a complete insult.
ME: I’ll still wait even if you hate me.
SLEEP: You may wait all you want but nothing will happen for you.
The story of the Goat who Gets the Gold
Authors: Gunjan Vyas,Madhu Kalyan
It was a quiet day in Tambola. A boar, a horse, and a goat were investigating a patch of grass. An elderly man was tending to the saloon when a wandering gunslinger made his way into the new town.
The man had been on the trail for a long time, and was looking for a saloon to quench his thirst. As he strolled down the road, he passed the animals and a community board. He took a moment to read a few of the posted notices, giving little attention to the critters and their grazing although he did notice what an odd grouping they made.
He may not have had much interest in the temporary herd… But they had taken interest in him. The goat and horse had been discussing ‘two leggers’, and why they tie things onto horses. This caused the goat to feel a bit nervous and curious when the gunslinger passed by them.
The goat turned to sniff the gunslinger. When she noticed the leather lacings hanging from his gun holsters, she became focused on these simple things. She started to walk towards the man but stopped since she was still a bit weary.
The gunslinger turned from reading the notices on the board when he heard the goat’s hoof steps behind him. He turned to see the little goat.
“Hi, goat.” he said.
“Baa,” was the reply he got.
“Did you want something, little one?” he asked the creature.
“Baa,” which is goat for ‘hello’ was the reply.
“Now I know I’ve been on the trail too long, I’m beginning to talk to goats,” he mused to himself and turned his attention back to the community board.
The thought that this human might be a friendly sort, the goat approached further. An idea was forming in her mind. Might she be quick enough to try and steal one of the lacing She got to within a foot of the man, studying the leather straps.
Hearing the hooves again, he turned and glanced back at the goat. Trying to figure out what the small animal was doing, becoming suspicious as it inched closer.
Meanwhile the goat was formulating a complicated snatch and grab maneuver. Starting her daring feat, she moved to stand near the saloon porch. Not noticing that the gunslinger was now watching her, she kicked her back hooves on the dirt, getting ready to run.
The man bent down to investigate the goat. When he was half bent over, the lacings became within grabbing distance of the goat. She decided the time was perfect to make her attempt. In a flash of brown fur, she charged at him. Jumper up, bit off one of the leather straps. Then bounding off the gunslinger’s leg, she had accomplished her goal. Proudly she waved the lacing in victory.
The man was taken back by what had just transpired between the two of them. He just stood there and replayed the incident, trying to get a hang of it. Looking down at the goat, he realized what it had done.
“Why you little…” He grumbled and raised his fist in frustration.
His ego a bit bruised at having a goat pilfer one of his holster straps, he hurriedly tried to snatch it back from the nearby beast.
The goat was startled by the man’s lunge, and leaped clear. A few more attempts to get the lacing back, were made, but all ended in failure. The little goat was becoming quite brazen – this man seemed like a small challenge for her nimble hooves.
Becoming frustrated, the man drew out his pistol. He took a shot at the point near to the goat’s hooves. Hearing the loud sound, the goat hit him in the knees with her horns. This tripped him, and he fell to the ground. While he was trying to further shoot at the thieving animal. Two shots left the guns, as the man headed for the dusty ground. One lodged in the overhang of the saloon. The other ricocheted off the dirt, and ended up in the notice board.
The man was becoming very flustered by the actions of the mischievous hoofed bandit. He returned to his feet, and stared down at the furry little one. His mind becoming focused on regaining his now half eaten bit of leather.
The elderly gent in the saloon, had not yet taken notice of this little drama. The boar had since moved off, to paths unknown while the horse had been watching and cheering. Offering whinnies and calls for the victorious brown, leather snatcher.
Soon the gunslinger and goat were once again launching themselves past each other. One trying to capture, the other escaping. At one point, the little goat dashed under the porch planks, just out of the man’s reach. Poking her head out now and again, she teased the human with his own leather.
While under the porch, she tripped on a small pouch and bent down to investigate. She picked it up, and while the man was catching his breath. She took the pouch onto the porch. She sat down, and while still holding the strip of leather, tried to rip open the pouch.
She became intent upon it and very curious about its contents.
So hypnotized was she by it, that she didn’t see the man coming closer to her with a most unfriendly look on his dust covered face. He slowly snuck up, and when close enough, he grabbed for the pilfered strap seizing it in luscious triumph.
At that same moment, the goat had worked a hole into the pouch. When the man yanked the leather from the jaws of the bothersome animal, three small shiny yellow nuggets fell from the bag plunking neatly onto the wood deck.
Both characters stopped their pursuits to take a moment’s notice of this. The eyes of the man widened, as he recognized the golden stone. The nostrils of the goat flared, at this new questioning thing. The two then looked at each other, and the goat leaped back with the bag of nuggets tightly held in her mouth, when she realized how close the human had come.
In the distance, the horse had found much enjoyment in watching these two combatants but was now tired and had pandered off to his stall. In the saloon, the aged barkeep was entertaining a local doctor. They were discussing marital relations, and bovine acquisitions, giving little, if any, notice to the drama just outside. A bleat from the goat did prompt a moments pause in the conversation, querying as to whether there was a sheep herder in town but the two soon continued on their previous topics.
Returning to the event on the porch, Our gunslinger was now down on one knee. Tentatively holding out the now drool and dust covered bit of leather trying to entice the goat, hoping to gain the bag of found stones. The goat, still very attached to it’s new treasure, turned, and let out an ill wind, pointedly refusing the offer.
“Come on. You wanted this, right?” tempted the gunslinger.
“Baa.” and a bit of gas, was the refused response.
“Well, I never..” exclaimed insulted human.
He made a grab for the legs of the critter. Successful, he pulled the hide legs till his arms were wrapped around the animal’s middle. The wriggling creature managed to twist, and with one good kick. She got herself free, and left a neat hoof print smack in the middle of the gunslinger’s forehead.
The goat, still in possession of the gold, made her way further down the saloon porch. She was now within range of the swinging doors. As the disheveled and insulted gunslinger rushed for the goat. She darted under the doors of the saloon, and hid under a table.
Panting, she was very nervous, shaking under her table. For now she wasn’t just hiding from the gunslinger. She was hiding from the barkeep. She knew if she stayed here too long. She might end up in a stew.
The gunslinger, with guns drawn once more, seemingly very determined to get the goat, or the gold, entered into the saloon. He peered into the establishment eagerly for his target.
The two men at the bar, had finally taken notice of the little event. They turned their attention to the gunslinger, and questioned his poised pistols.
The gunslinger realized where it was he found himself. Feeling suddenly tired from the taunting of the furry thief, he remembered that it was a saloon that he wanted, before this predicament began. So taking stock of the two others, he put away his guns, and bellied up to the bar.
The goat steadied herself, seizing her opportunity for freedom, dashed back under the doors. She quietly listened through a window, to make sure she was safe. For indeed she was, she could hear the three men begin a conversation.
Thus confident in her defeat of the gunslinger, she trots off, holding the pouch of high. For the Goat had Got away with the Gold.
Love isn’t fair
Authors : Gunjan Vyas,Madhu Kalyan
I was sitting on a park bench, gazing at the blue sky, listening to the birds whistling and watching people as they passed by. A little bird pecking at the grains thrown in front of him by an old woman, sitting on a bench a few meters away from me. A little girl playing tag with her father and jumping with delight whenever he lost. A couple jogging away together on the tracks.
Just sitting and observing is easy and in so many ways delightful.
I was still enjoying my little peace when I saw a guy coming my way. He had a huge pair of headphones covering his ears, which I could see even when his head was covered by the hood of his jacket, as he sat beside me. I could tell he was not here to work out because he was wearing a pair of blue jeans along with a casual T-shirt. I didn’t like the fact that he was listening to music instead of the sound of birds on such a beautiful day so I patted him on the shoulder but he didn’t seem to notice it (thanks to my overall smallness). I patted him on his shoulder again, still to no notice. This was getting on my nerves now! So, I gathered all my strength in my right fist and gave his shoulder a nice punch.
This time, he did notice.
“What the hell? Why did you punch me?” he yelled, taking off his headphones.
“Uhm……I just wanted to tell you something but you weren’t paying attention so I punched you,” I explained nervously. Then, he took off his hood and smiled. His face was a beautiful sight – making everything around seem so dim in comparison and I couldn’t do anything but be awed.
He murmured an ‘it’s okay’ and got up to walk away but I pulled him by his hand. “Can’t you stay with me for a while?” I asked with a smile, hoping he won’t think me a creep.
He looked about him for a while before smirking.
Even his voice was beautiful, like an angel’s – firm, masculine and yet having soft undertones to it.
“What conditions?” I stammered out.
“First, you have to apologize to me. Second, you have to listen to this song with me,” he said taking out another pair of headset – a smaller one – from his pocket.
“Uhm… It’s jus-“
“What’s with the uhm again? Do you want me to stay or not?” he crossed his arms about his chest and asked.
I looked at him, wide-eyed and confused – what was the matter with him? Did he really think i wanted to sit and listen to a song with him in the middle of the park? I went on with my explanation which he had so impolitely interrupted.
“It’s just that, the whole reason I wanted to get your attention was to have you enjoy the environment around us – what would be the point of sitting in the middle of the park if you can’t even take off your headphones and observe what’s around us?”
He looked at me for a while like I was an alien. I fidgeted under his gaze – being stared at isn’t something I’m very comfortable with. He probably saw my nervousness because soon he started to laugh.
“I guess you’re right but I’ll listen to your opinion once you listen to this song with me.”
I smiled and took the spare pair of headset from his hand as he removed the pin of the one around his neck from the jack of his ipod.
We sat there listening to a song I can never forget – it had no lyrics but the music was so beautiful, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and let it take over my soul.
I let my head rest on his shoulder as the beautiful music soothed me. I didn’t realise when I fell asleep but when I woke up, I felt something knocking my head repeatedly. I opened my eyes and saw his grinning face.
I also noticed that my head was now on his lap.
I quickly got up, embarrassed about our this intimate position, and stammered out.
“Wha- What happened? And why are you grinning like that?”
“Well, while we were listening to some music two hours ago, you fell asleep on my shoulder, then, I wanted you to sleep in a better position so I put you on my lap,” he explained.
“Two hours? Why didn’t you wake me up? Why did you knock on my head repeatedly?!” I yelled. “First, you looked so cute when you were sleeping. Second, it’s just revenge for you punching me so hard. Lastly, please stop with the interrogation,” he said and I pouted.
“You, pervert! After putting my head on your lap and staring at me for two hours, you’re all smug and holy?” I shouted.
“Calm down, I was just joking,” he smirked.
I calmed down and fixed myself. “Don’t you think this is so strange?” he said, looking up at the sky.
“If you’re calling me strange, then, you may have to create your own funeral,” I said.
“No, no. I mean, we are just strangers to each other yet we act like we’ve known each others for years,” he explained.
“I don’t know what you mean. I just wanted you to see what’s around you, but you were busy listening to your stupid iPod,” I said, fixing my hair. We were silent for a while but he broke it with a question.
“How can you say I won’t hurt you? What makes you trust me?” he asked.
I smiled at him – he didn’t know that from years of staying alone I had developed an impeccable sense of judgement – I could tell a person’s character by just a few minutes of observation.
“You seemed like a calm person to me. I thought you were like me – going out for a walk just to get away from the monotonous routine until I knew you were a total pervert!”
“How can you even say that? I served as your pillow and you didn’t even thank me,” he said with mock sadness.
“Thank You. Happy now?”
“You sound like you don’t mean it.”
“You’re really trying to get on my nerves aren’t you?”
I chuckled lightly thinking how we were arguing like childhood friends but we hadn’t even introduced ourselves.
“I just remembered, we haven’t introduced ourselves to each other.”
“I’ll be first. I’m Anima,“ I said sticking my hand out towards him.
“Nice to meet you, I am Gaurav,” he said and took my hand in his own and shook it lightly.
We smiled at each other warmly.
“So, should we call each other by our names now?” I said trying to start a conversation.
“Of course not” he disagreed.
“Why not?” I asked. What was wrong with this guy?
“I like not knowing you” he said.
“Are you trying to have me beat you up?”
“I’m just messing with you,” he chuckled and gave me a smug grin.
I punched him again on the head because I was so annoyed.
“I think you already did,” I giggled looking at his hurt face.
“Fine, I’ll stop already,” he said as he massaged the sore spot on his head.
Everything was silent again but not awkward – I felt very comfortable in his presence and I believe he did too.
All of a sudden, he asked a really weird question, “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
I smiled because I knew a perfect answer to it.
“Of course I do, it makes me feel like I have found somebody I really love,” I answered.
He looked at me seriously, and then he stood and pulled me up from the bench.
“Why are you making me stand up?” I grumbled.
“Stop whining and follow me” he said.
I followed him to a bridge over the river.
Why did he ask me if I believed in love at first sight? And why did he ask me to follow him to a bridge near the park? What was going on?
He stopped and looked at his reflection in the water.
I too looked at his reflection – how cute he looked when serious.
I was surprised when I felt like I saw him for the first time. Feels like……love at first sight. I froze.
He looked at me so sadly. “Aren’t you afraid to love someone you just saw?” he suddenly asked.
I was unable to answer.
“You know what? The funny thing about love at first sight is, you won’t know if the person you see loves you back,” he said with a sad look.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. What happened to this proud, grinning guy all of a sudden?
“I’ll answer your question with another question, why can’t you stop asking so many questions?” he said in an irritated voice.
“B-B-Because, I want to know what you’re thinking,” I answered – what was with this sudden change in personality.
He ignored me and continued to look at his reflection.
I felt bad for not being able to do anything – he looked forlorn and in need of love so I did what came to my mind first.
I hugged him.
“Don’t be so lonely, just tell me what’s wrong,” I whispered.
He turned around and looked at me. Slowly, he bent down and his face was so close to mine, I could feel his hot breaths on my face.
Suddenly, he kissed me lightly on the cheek and I blushed like a tomato.
“W-Why did you do that for?” I stuttered rubbing the moist imprint of his lips.
“You didn’t like it?” he said.
“O-of course not!” I denied and gave him a dangerous look but he only laughed.
“Well, you wanted me to cheer up, didn’t you? So I kissed you,” he explained in the same matter-of-fact manner.
“How can kissing me cheer you up?!” I yelled angrily.
On the inside, I wanted to kiss him back.
“My mom kissed me on the cheek when I was still a boy to cheer me up, but in your case, I knew you wouldn’t kiss me so I kissed you,” he explained.
“You could’ve told me!” I huffed angrily and turned away from him.
“Why should I, would you do it?” he asked.
“Of course I would!”
“You…what?” he bluffed and I blushed so hard, I could feel my cheeks heating up.
“I-I would not!” I corrected myself.
“Then, I rest my case,” he said.
I looked around nervously and fumbled with the hem of my top for a few minutes. Trying to change the subject, I asked, “Why were you so sad anyway?”
“It’s because I know you wouldn’t love a guy like me,” he said looking at the sky.
I froze again. I didn’t know what to say.
“Weren’t you wondering why a guy like me stayed with you, even though you punched me enough to make me terribly angry at you? And why I asked you about believing in love at first sight?” he continued.
“The moment I saw you, the very second I took my hood off, I saw you, I fell for you.”
And to think that I actually thought that I was being crazy in liking a guy I just met, while he was the one having a hard time. “Can’t you give me a chance to tell you that I-” I said until I was rudely interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone.
“Excuse me” he said, taking a distance away from me. He answered the phone and I overheard him saying he’s on his way back home.
He approached me and said “I’m sorry for bothering you with my stupid feelings of love, I got to go home, and my mom needs me.” He gave me a hug, and then he ran the other way.
I can’t believe I wasn’t able to say that I loved him back. I couldn’t even ask for his contact number or address when he started to run away from me as I stood where I was.
After that, I went to the park everyday, hoping I would see him again and try to know the reason behind his sadness – why did he think I couldn’t love him? Why did he consider himself not worthy of being loved? What did his mother need him for that he couldn’t wait for even a few minutes?
I could never get to know answers because for all these years, I haven’t seen him once. And from this experience I realized that love isn’t fair to anyone.
A little boy asked his mother, “Why are you crying?” “Because I’m a woman,” she told him. “I don’t understand,” he said. His Mom just hugged him and said, “And you never will.” Later the little boy asked his father, “Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?” “All women cry for no reason,” was all his dad could say. The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry. Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, “God, why do women cry so easily?” God said, “When I made the woman she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort. I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children. I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining. I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly. I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him un-falteringly And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed.” “You see my son,” said God, “the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart – the place where love resides.”
Creya’s Imaginary Friend
Author:Gunjan Vyas,Madhu Kalyan
Art by: Dina Ahmed
“Ever since I was a kid I had an imaginary friend. His name was Aryan, and he was the only person I ever loved, needed, or cared about and even as I got older, he never went away.”
When I was four, my mother had died from cancer. I cried every night because she was everything to me – I loved her the most in the whole wide world.Days went by and I became lonelier still – my father was a busy man and none of the nannies he’d hired for me were half as good as my mother – she was the best. One day, I heard this voice in my head which wasn’t mine. At first I thought it was just my mind playing but then it started talking to me. Soon I was able to discern that it belonged to a child who wanted to play
“What’s your name?”
“Aryan and you are Creya.”
“Where are you? Why can’t I see you?”
“You might see me if you close your eyes.”
“No! I still can’t see you, Aryan. Why?”
“The time’s not right, maybe.”
“What do you mean?”
You’ll see me when the time’s right…
“I play hide and seek with Aryan,
but I never find him & he never finds me.
I talk & sing with him,
But he never dances with me,
I would show him to my friends,
Only if I had any,
No one seems to see him,
Other than me.
I’ve spent all my life with him,
and fought away my loneliness,
‘Cause when no one’s listening to me,
he listens to me speak.
He’s not just my imaginary friend.
He’s my everything…”
Soon, I started to make friends at school. I got more cheerful and the girls in my class started to like me. We played together and Aryan would whisper things to me that’d always make me win a game – we were an excellent team. Years went by and I kept getting happier despite the fact that my father wouldn’t stay with me much – he was too busy signing business deals and attending fancy parties. I cried sometimes – thinking how I was an orphan even with a father but Aryan would tell me how beautiful life really is. I’d see an orphan kid begging on street and Aryan would tell me to keep looking and know how lucky I really am to have a roof over my head and a friend to talk to anytime I wanted.
The night I turned fourteen, my father came back home drunk – so drunk he couldn’t even properly stand. I was in bed whispering to Aryan about some really stupid girls in my class when I heard the thrashing of objects from below. Usually, I would wake up every morning on my birthday to find lots of gifts stacked near the staircase and I assumed it was my dad getting exactly that done. I smiled and said, “You were right, Aryan. He’s not that bad…he’s got me so many gifts this year too!”
I started giggling when Aryan whispered back, “Yeah, I think he’s finally got that huge teddy you’ve been wanting since last year.”
Yes, I was fourteen and loved cute soft toys.
We continued to giggle and talk but got distracted when the thrashing got louder and more violent. I was getting more and more worried and asked Aryan what it could be. He didn’t reply so I got up and opened my door a little – big enough to peek through. I could hear my father’s voice which sounded – as I could describe at that moment – disturbing. He was yelling at the top of his voice words I couldn’t quite understand so I just stood there listening.
“I don’t like this, Aryan…”
“Go to bed, Creya.”
“But I’m worried an-”
“Go to bed, Creya. Now.”
At that moment I wanted to slap him hard and tell him to shut up but since I couldn’t see him only yelling ‘shut up’ had to suffice. I strode down the stairs to see what dad was up to and was shocked at what I saw.
He was dressed in a business suit as usual but his coat was off and his shirt was unbuttoned till the first half, sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and his tie was loosened around the neck. He was breathing heavily and holding a big gift box in his hands. I went nearer and asked him what was happening in a meek voice. He gave me a stare so cold I froze on the spot.
“You’re such a burden, Creya. Why don’t you just die like your mother?”
The only thought that started to run through my mind at those words was ‘Is this man my father?’ because it didn’t seem so. This man seemed more like a cold hearted devil who didn’t care that I was his daughter(or even human for that matter) as he drew me closer and hurt me in ways I couldn’t believe he did.
There was nothing I could do as I pushed against his strong body to leave my small, weak one as he hit me with my own ‘gifts’. One after the other all those heavy boxes were thrown at me. Some of them had sharp edges and my skin bled from where it was hit by them.
It was all a blur – my mind and body, so used to all the luxuries and comforts I was provided, couldn’t react to what was happening.
I was punched, kicked and slapped. I was thrown across the floor and stripped. He broke his wine glass and was coming towards me with the sharp broken piece in hand when thankfully, Aryan’s voice shouted in my head before things could progress into what an experience that would have scarred me for life.
“Get up and fight back!”
His voice rang through my head, through my spirit. My body was aching, my mind was a mess but still his endless pleas finally urged me to get up. It was an effort – my legs hurt because of constant thrashing, my arms were blue and my hands were bleeding but I still managed to rise from the ground and did the first thing that came to my mind – run. I went straight for the door and ran for my life. Barefoot and broken, I didn’t stop even once as my feet took me away from the hell my father had created for my fourteenth birthday. There was no one around as I made my way through the empty street.
I went to the small park where I sometimes used to go when I needed fresh air and sat on the swing. Tears kept flowing but my pain was not eased. I couldn’t believe what just took place in the place I called home – maybe I wasn’t close to dad and maybe he didn’t love me after all but this was just beyond all limits.
“Why did this happen to me, Aryan?” I asked in a low voice but Aryan didn’t answer.
He still didn’t answer. Was he even listening?
I started to sob loudly at this – now I was completely alone. My father had tried to kill me and my only friend wouldn’t listen to me.
I asked myself over and over as the cold wind blew against my disheveled hair.
“Aryan! Please talk to me!”
The wind dried the tears as they flowed down my face but new ones would quickly wet my skin again. The world had ended for me then – I felt as dark on the inside as the night itself.
I couldn’t take it anymore – the silence, the apathy, the pain so I screamed.
“ARYAN! DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME ANYMORE?”
This time he replied. His reply brought new tears to my eyes but they felt totally different from the ones I was shedding before – these were the tears of longing and sadness combined with happiness of not being alone. His words echoed again and again and I felt my heart beat insanely fast against my chest.
“I don’t want to say anything, Creya. I just want to break down these walls around me and come out and wipe away your tears. I can’t see you cry like this. I don’t want to see you so hurt and broken. But I can’t do anything from here…”
“I have so many things to tell you, my imaginary friend
You know, I’ve been alone
I don’t know how long
I’ve been thinking about doing some absurd things
That I never thought before
I was so happy, but it was a very long time ago…
I don’t remember how is to feel like that anymore
Love is so far away from me now
I guess, sometimes, I wasn’t born to receive it
My life is so uncertain…
Everybody knows what they’re going to do
in the next five years
I don’t know I’m going to do the next day…
Sometimes I wish to close my eyes
and make the whole world disappear
And just exist me and you
My imaginary friend…”
“I’m not crying Aryan now…You just wiped all my tears away.”
The next morning I returned home. I went straight to my room and locked myself. The whole day was spent in packing my things because I couldn’t live in this hell anymore – a place where I wasn’t wanted wasn’t a place I wanted to be in.
I left without a word to anyone. I had heard my father’s voice from his room once that day as he shouted at the servants asking about my whereabouts. Silly man, if only he had tried to look for me in the morning.
I took the bus to Shimla spending all my pocket money – the birthplace of my mother and the place where nani lived.
I hadn’t seen nani(grandma) again after mom had died but from what I could remember, she loved us a lot and had wanted to see me but dad didn’t let us meet.
Now that I was no longer wanted in the place that was supposed to be my home, I went to a place where I knew I belonged.
On reaching Shimla, finding my nani’s house was a piece of cake. Being the small town it was, nani’s kothi was not unknown to the locals and I was soon in front of her front door.
I felt so nervous and even guilty for not trying to meet her in all these years but once the door opened I was overwhelmed with emotion when she recognized me. Eight years, eight months had passed but she hadn’t changed a bit – she was still the same old nani that used to play with my five year old self.
She hugged me tightly and I sobbed in her arms – crying out all the hurt that was bottled inside of me. All the while, I could feel Aryan smiling.
Years passed by in Shimla and I found myself happier than before – I made new friends, my new family loved me and my nani compensated for all the affection I had lost in the past nine years with so much care that it sometimes made me cry.
Everything had changed now – no big empty, lifeless house, no apathetic relatives, no servants, no surplus toys and money and it seemed that my father hadn’t tried much to look for me. I think a part of the reason was that I hadn’t complained against him to the police.
My life was absolutely new and fresh to me but one thing had remained constant even after these drastic changes – Aryan. He never left me through all this and as I grew older, I found myself falling in love with him. From our endless talks at night to our mid-day chattering – Aryan was my big secret and my best friend.
So many times I had wished he came out of the secret dimension he resided in and show me his face – I wanted to see the face which was attached to that beautiful voice which had given me love, hope and aspirations.
The night I turned 20, he visited me in my dream and I finally saw his face which was beautiful. He was beautiful.
I ran into his arms, crying tears of joy. He whispered loving and caring words to me quietly as I cried into his chest. His suit didn’t seem to get wet, but I knew her face was soaked with tears still.
My wish was finally granted and I couldn’t believe it.
“You really are Aryan.”
“Who else could I be?”
“I can’t believe I’m finally seeing you.”
“Believe it now… we’ve finally met.”
“I want you to come with me, and stay with me forever. Not as a secret but the person you deserve to be. Please Aryan, can’t you come out now?”
“Happy birthday, Creya.”
He smiled and a bright light was all around us and then….I woke up. It was still dark and I despaired thinking it was just a dream. I turned to my side to try to fall asleep again and gasped when I saw Aryan lying right next to me!
I sat up surprised and hugged him tightly…he’d come to me. Finally!
“I love you,” I murmured and kissed him deeply.
“I love you too,” he replied and deepened the kiss.
That night, we became two bodies and one soul.
Authors:Madhu Kalyan,Gunjan Vyas
Art : Dina Ahmed
Title : IMPERFECT DAD
A father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men. “How Dad approaches life will serve as an example for his daughter to build off of in her own life, even if she chooses a different view of the world”What matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings, so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world
I wonder what a perfect father daughter relationship is.
My name is Moksha and I live with my father, Das in a small town named Tabla located in Andhra Pradesh. He is a carpenter. My mother died when I was five in floods and from then, my father has taken care of me.
My father is a physically disabled man – he can’t hear or talk but his sense of affection is perfect because he never let me feel the absence of my mother in my life.
We communicate using hand and facial gestures. There were times when I didn’t understand what he was trying to say and for that sole reason, he learnt how to write. Writing became a means of communication for the two of us from then and he started sending me to school soon after. He used to cycle for half hour daily to drop me to school and I can never forget the loving gestures with which he used to tell me : “Study well, be good, eat your lunch.”
Father used to work very hard from morning till late evening but he never compromised with his parental duties. Now when I think about it, I always thought he wasn’t a competent father because of his lack of two vital senses but from the way he loved me, I now realise I couldn’t have had a father more perfect.
“ The happy faces.
He lifts his young daughter
Into the air.
To her it seems so high.
Up in the clouds
She squeals her delight,
Her yellow sundress waving.
He feels a pang inside my chest,
Constricting until it becomes painful.
I was a keen student – I got the best grades in class even through all the trouble I had to face. My father, though physically disabled, was always the biggest inspiration to me. Whenever I was sad about how other students could consult their literate fathers when they got stuck in a Math problem, father would tell me(through hand gestures): “I don’t know Math that well but it’s a good thing that now it will be your brain that’ll be put to test and not mine.”
He would say the same thing to me whenever I was unable to move forward in a Math problem and it would always make me laugh.
When I turned nineteen, we moved to the city for my further studies. Father worked as a carpenter in a small shop now and had to work lesser than before. We also had more money to spend on our comfort as I had earned a scholarship from the university for my excellent performance in the competitive examination.
We all were very happy of course but troubles began when college started.
In my college, most of the students were from big, rich families. They didn’t talk to us: the scholarship kids because they thought we were beneath them even when we were the ones who had secured our seats via academic excellence alone. The hypocrisy! I made a few friends but they weren’t as close as the ones I had in my village. We were like a family there.
During my first parent teacher meeting, I was very excited about showing my father our college – the developed infrastructure, the English speaking teachers and what not! But the moment we entered the hall where the meeting had to take place, I became nervous. Now the fact that he did not have the ability to speak came crashing down on me – he had come here to ‘talk’ to my teachers.
We sat quietly in the last row and waited for our turn.
My teacher beamed as soon as she saw me.
“She’s a brilliant student!” she exclaimed as she clasped my father’s hand in a handshake. Then she started to sing about how good I was and how proud my father should be. It was a good thing that all he had to do was smile and nod his head.
I breathed a sigh of relief when she concluded the meeting, got up and shook hands with him and pleasantly bid us farewell. I was thanking god profusely for saving me the embarrassment of introducing my dumb and deaf father to my teacher in front of the rest of my class just then, as if on cue, Kamala appeared in front of us.
Kamala was the class diva – beautiful, charismatic, rich. She was intelligent too and probably the only student in our class who belonged to an affluent family AND had also won a scholarship. She was perfect in so many ways but for reasons unknown to me, she’d held a grudge against me since day 1. She’d downright ignored me when I had tried to introduce myself to her on the first day. After that she had insulted me for my oiled hair and old suits on countless occasions and even gone as far as calling me a beggar’s daughter once. That was the last time she called me.
We’d had a big verbal fight and in the end we had decided to stay away from each other. Needless to say, my being ahead of her in class in this term hadn’t gone down too well with her as she did what I’m about to write now.
Kamala stood in front of us, hands on hips and a triumphant smile on face. She laughed pleasantly and said, “Oh hi, Moksha! Is this your father?”
I could hear the condescending tone in her honey flavoured words – this old, skinny man dressed in old dhoti is your father? I’m not surprised.
I answered her just as sweetly, “Yes, Kamala, he is.”
“I wanted to meet him for such a long time,” she said as she regarded the two of us with contempt. “I’m Kamala, her classmate.”
My father, who was unaware of her contemptuous tone(thanks to his lack of hearing ability), smiled back at her. I felt suffocated – why can’t she leave us alone?
When he said nothing in response, she didn’t give up. I saw her bring up her hand as if to shake his hand, but she quickly put it down – spoiled bitch didn’t want to touch my father.
“What is your name, sir?”
Before my father could mouth his name, I jumped in.
“His name is Das. Mr. Das Prabhu,” I glared at her.
She smirked at me, “I asked that question to your father, Moksha.” She spoke my name with such distaste, I felt tears coming to my eyes. I couldn’t understand why she always had to make me feel like I was an incompetent piece of absolutely nothing.
“What do you do, sir?” she asked him but before I could say anything she turned to me, “Not you. Your father.”
My father looked at her for a while and then at me – for a brief moment I thought he hadn’t understood what Kamala had said and wanted me to explain but he smiled and shook his head. At that time I hadn’t understood the gesture but now I do, he was telling me to stop feeling so sad. He couldn’t hear things so his main sense was sight. He looked at things and observed them very carefully. With time he had got used to how I acted when I was happy, sad, angry and so on and he had seen the unshed tears of anger and shame in my eyes. He was telling me to stop feeling so low because of this proud girl.
He was telling me to be proud of who I was.
He started imitating the action of chopping wood in front of her and she observed him with wide eyes. Her surprised expression soon melted into that of cruel understanding when she realised what was happening.
“Your father is dumb, Moksha?”
“Mute,” I corrected sharply.
“Oh,” she said. “A dumb…I mean a mute carpenter, right?”
I felt humiliated. I took my father’s hand in mine and shoved past her but she stopped me by pulling my arm.
“What’s the problem, Moksha? Why do you look so angry?” she sneered and just then I realised that we were not alone – all the people in the hall were staring at us. I couldn’t fight back my tears anymore and so they flowed freely.
“Why don’t you speak?” she prodded on and I couldn’t hold back my frustration.
“Yes, my father is mute and deaf! Are you happy to hear it? Now let us go,” I shoved her out of my way and didn’t stop once till we were home – safe and away from everyone.
Father put a comforting hand on my shoulder and I pushed it away.
“It’s because you are deaf and mute that I had to go through all this!” I screamed. “Just thinking what will happen to me from tomorrow gives me shivers – as if being a carpenter’s daughter was not enough!”
He looked at me with pained eyes but didn’t say a word – no hand gestures, no written words and no mouthing. He went back to his shop to work.
I felt so bad then – my father gave me everything and I? I yelled at him for being deaf and mute – as if it was his fault he didn’t have these senses.
He returned at night and we had dinner – I didn’t say anything and nor did he. The next morning when I woke up, I saw a note near my bed which read:
Going for work early today. I had my breakfast so don’t worry.
I’m sorry about what happened yesterday, I will not attend any PTM from now on if I cause you embarrassment. But please don’t cry again like that. There are some things we just cannot change. I myself don’t like being a disabled man but if it is God’s will that I stay this way so be it. Don’t cry and embrace whatever God has given you. I am proud of you.
He was still proud of me. I couldn’t help but cry when I read that loving note but fear of what was about to happen that day was still fresh in my stomach – Kamala.
I slapped that thought away and followed what my father had written – embrace what God has given you. With that thought in mind, I dressed and went to college but well, my torture began as soon as I stepped inside my class. My best friend in class, Koel decided to not sit with me. When I asked her why she wasn’t sitting with me she simply said, “I want to concentrate in class.” The whole day, she avoided me. When all the classes were over, Kamala came to me – “Oh the daughter of a deaf, dumb carpenter. How are you doing?”
She pulled my hair out of my ponytail – I had deliberately washed it that day so she couldn’t find another reason to insult me.
“No oil today. Copying someone, little bitch?” she gripped my hair tightly and yanked it so that I fell face first on floor.
“Stop it!” I cried but my screams were muffled when two big, burly boys came behind me and one of them reached down and pulled me up by my neck while the other used my dupatta as a gag. I coughed and looked at other students of my class pleadingly but none of them had enough courage – or empathy – to help me.
“Now that we have that cloth in place, act like your father would when he would be beaten,” she laughed and made noises imitating those of mute people. “He’d act like an animal, won’t he?”
I wanted to kill her then and there but those boys wouldn’t leave me. One of them had secured my hands behind my back in his strong fists and the other tightened the gag whenever I tried to move.
All my classmates were nothing but dumb spectators – none of them made a single, damned move!
Kamala walked towards me and slapped my face hard.
“Know your place, bitch! Don’t try to become a queen – you’re nothing more than an idiot’s daughter! I’m leaving you today but if you show me that dumb face of yours again, you know these guys are capable of more than just holding a girl,” her eyes gleamed darkly and I realised the stream of unending tears flowing down my cheeks. Then she disappeared out of the class along with the two guys and I fell to my knees, sobbing. Everyone started to dissipate now and I could hear the murmurs of ‘poor girl’, ‘Kamala crossed her limits’, ‘her dad is dumb?’ etc but the one that hurt me the most was, “Had I known her dad was a dumb carpenter, I wouldn’t have talked to her. How does that affect my reputation now?”
The person who said that was Vikram, the one I thought was the best guy in the world – more appropriately, my crush. That statement from his mouth made me cry tears of such pain that it is hard to explain through words. When I got home, I did what I never thought I would do, the most cowardly act in my eyes – I cut my wrist.
I don’t know what was going on in my mind then but I didn’t want to live anymore – I’ve had my share of suffering and I just wanted a release – I wanted my freedom. I now laugh at the twisted view on ‘freedom’ I had then.
My wrist bled away all the emotional pain that had been tormenting my heart for the past few days by transforming it into purely physical pain – the stinging sensation, the feeling of blood flowing out of that neat wound, the sudden fading of vision and then unconsciousness overcame me. I didn’t want to wake up from that sleep again but before falling into oblivion, I heard the sound of the opening of our front door…father had come back from work.
Now as I write this little account of my life, my father is lying on the hospital bed near my chair. It has been three days since I cut myself and doctors told me that I had made a deep and vertical cut which resulted in major blood loss as vertical cuts are very difficult to stitch. They were successful in closing the wound but blood loss had already occurred and apparently no nearby blood banks had blood group AB+ and guess who came to my rescue…my father.
After all that I did, he gives me blood from his weak body so I could come back to this world – conscious and alive. He hasn’t been conscious for three days now and I’m still waiting for him to wake up – I won’t lose hope. Now that I’ve embraced what I am, I want him to see the new me and be proud. I want him to write me short notes and make those sweet hand gestures which motivate me to go on. I want to say sorry…
No one is perfect in this world and the one that accepts his weaknesses with grace and courage is a true hero.
I won’t lose hope because I know my dad is a hero
I have never seen a city like Kolkata. It is the wildest, most crazy place I have ever been. Engulfed by poverty it is still vibrant and full of life. After the flight from Hyderabad I landed in Kolkata. I was staying with an extremely nice Indian couple that live in the heart of Kolkata.
On Day 1 I explored all the local roads,malls,food courts near by,where i am staying.With the help of my Smart Android I can travel/explore any place.
“Kolkata is like a piece of shit on the face of this earth”, wrote the famous writer Günter Grass.
Like there is some who would agree with this bad notion, there are many many more who loves the city of joy and would disapprove of one such statement. A person who is not associated with or is ignorant of the Indian culture and tradition will probably generate one such idea and never understand the true spirit of the city. It could also be our shortfall that we had been unable to show many like Grass the brighter side of things that are here.
I have heard many of my friends calling Kolkata to be chaotic, cluttered and dirty. True, some parts of Kolkata is dirty, is chaotic. Yet Kolkata is the City of Joy. Kolkata is the city of tradition and culture. Kolkata is the city of football and cricket. Kolkata is the city of Tagore, Netaji, Mother Teresa. Kolkata is the city of lavish shopping malls. Kolkata is the city of booming IT industry. It’s the city we all love.
On day 2nd and 3rd day
I and Mytri planned to explore Kumartuli, one of the cultural precincts of Kolkata. It was a Saturday morning that we headed towards Kumartuli. From Shobhabazar- we took a car to Kumartuli, where clay sculptors were busy in making idols. Bright sunshine on my shoulders and the deep blue sky above were telling that autumn is on the threshold and with only one month left for the Pujas idol making would be in full swing.
It was my long cherished desire to visit Kumartuli, the alley of the potters, where gods and goddesses are born (read created) in the skilled hands of mud sculptors who are in the profession of clay idol making for several generations
Well, coming back to where we started our journey. As we moved on down the lanes the brick walls and structures were like closing in on us. I have never seen such narrow lanes and by-lanes in my life. Much to my astonishment, artisans live in there, with their families and have set up their studios for pottery and idol making! Well… studio, not in its literal sense.
On 3rd day I had to take a hand-pulled rickshaw. As soon as I boarded the rickshaw childhood memories thronged my mind. Such rickshaws were aplenty on the roads of Hyderabad those days. We used to ride rickshaws often, especially in the evenings while returning home after a shopping or a visit to some relative’s place. The rickshaw puller is almost running pulling the rickshaw, and the sound of the bells hanging in his hand … ting ling ting ling (this bell worked like horns) and a small lantern hanging at the back of the rickshaw, just like the rear light of a car – the images are still so vivid in my mind!
I sat stiff and terrified, thinking all the time, what if the rickshaw puller loosens his grip and we’ll land up up-side down (LOL!). Finally, I reached my destination and I was relieved to get down from the rickshaw.
Trams are rare to see on the roads of Kolkata.The thought that Kolkata will be losing its heritage one day pains a lot. The metro has transformed a lot with a number of lavish shopping plazas, bustling multiplexes, flyovers and BMW, Skoda and Chevrolet plying the city roads.
Slowly the tram reached the terminal at Bagbazar. From there we caught the bus to Kalikapur. As the bus was passing through Shyambazar crossing I caught a glimpse of the statue of ‘Netaji’,
basking in the sun, amidst a number of enormous hoardings and signboards trying to cover up the skyline, the bamboo structures for pandals on the roadside, posters of political rallies and the same zeal and enthusiasm for the Pujas reminded me, ‘Kolkata ache Kolkatatei” (The spirit of Kolkata still remains the same)!
Truly memorable and moving; be sure to go up the stairs to see the room where she slept and lived and ran this tremendous Sisters of Charity worldwide. The Orphanage which is also worth a visit is nearby!! Do not miss seeing both!! Try to visit in the morning or late afternoon when the children are not sleeping.
Never imagined that something as big as that bridge is hanging on its own. The British were famous for their civil engineering and they proved this by constructing such a long Howrah bridge. The bridge is never short of traffic, very busy indeed.Walk across this bridge and you will feel the awesome magnificence of the bridge. Be careful of the crowd though.
Majestic entrance to a beautiful monument in the heart of city of joy Kolkata nice greenery on both sides once entered, beautiful stone walkway, mesmerism you. Once you enter the main hall you are thrilled with the construction of the hall, marble edifice and the whole hall gives you a picture of dominance of British in India. There are plenty of collection time taking to browse around but worth watching. There are very detailed eye catching glimpses display of history of Calcutta (Kolkata) which gives an idea of British period’s Kolkata Overall it is worth watching and one should always visit this place once if they visiting Kolkata.
What is amazing is that they have still have kept a lot of old traditions alive. The idol makers still use water from Hoogly to mix the clay and make the models. It is not the easiest things to do since the have to hire water carriers, but most of the artists still folow this tradition.Kumartuli streets are narrow and there are lanes and bylanes and that is what lends Kumartuli a character.It not not a typical studio where potters do their clay modeling, these streets are as old as Kolkata and is a historic place. I am posting a few photos of goddess Saraswathi, there was also a very interesting and beautiful old building, no one lives theres, must have been grand at some point. I walked through two three lanes and then headed straight for Hoogly. It was a nice and peaceful evening.
This white marble temple, resembling the famous Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar, is a marvel of architecture and adobe of peace. The main temple houses statues of Radha-Krishna. The left side of temple houses goddess Durga and the right side of the temple houses Shiva. There is no nuisance that could disturb the devotees and the place is well maintained and clean.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, known popularly as Netaji (meaning leader in Hindi), was one of the most prominent reformists in the Indian Independence Movement. The building that is known as Netaji Bhavan today was once the residence of the reformist. Managed by the Netaji Research Bureau, the old bungalow-style structure houses a museum and the bureau’s archives and library. The museum is divided into various rooms, each detailing certain phases in the leader’s life. The top-most floor has photographs and documents from the life and works of Subhash Chandra Bose, arranged in chronological order. The library and archives include comprehensive collections detailing the Indian Independence Movement. Netaji Bhavan also has an auditorium called the Sarat Bose Hall which is used for events like lectures and seminars. Located on Elgin Road, opposite, Forum Mall this is the place to visit if you’re interested in learning about India’s Freedom Struggle.
Few of my clicks
For more clicks you can find in my Kolkata album in Photography menu
Title : Dinner With Stranger
Authors : Madhu Kalyan,Gunjan Vyas
Art : Dina Ahmed
7:15 pm, Saturday. Alarm rings, snooze is hit the next 15 minutes are spent staring at the ceiling. Eveleen’s parents are not home as usual. She sits at her computer desk, her cursor flashing in the blank word document. Her first day off in weeks, her first real opportunity to work on her novel and she is too stressed to think. For an hour or two, now she has been sitting in her worn black office chair, staring at the white page, stirring tea. The TV is chattering unobserved behind her, some stupid commercial playing.
She has always wanted to write, it has always been her dream to be a famous author some day. She had her story planned out, her characters were strong and well developed, she even had a title, all she needed now was to write it. But with her mind swaying between her terrible boss, her boyfriend leaving, her company failing and still giving her way too much work to do, not to mention the hundreds of other niggling issues in her life she fails to be creative. With a final sigh, she closes the word document and leans back into her chair. Her back is stiff from sitting all that time, and now her eyes ache from the continuous exposure to the monitor. She pushes her chestnut brown hair hanging around her eyes and past her shoulders, out of her eyes, and absentmindedly notes she would have to have it cut soon. She loosens her blue blouse from her shoulders and adjusts her black sweatpants before standing up and moving to the couch.
10:45 pm. A commercial for a sauna belt is playing and a slim blonde girl is squealing how the belt helped her lose that extra fat around her lower belly. Dumb bitch – as if she can’t see past that work of Photoshop on the photo showing her ‘before use’ photographs. She picks up the remote and flips through the channels past one bad show to another. There is a psychiatrist speaking on one channel, about multiple personality disorder. From the Armani suit she is wearing under her doctor’s white coat and not a hint of emotion on her face, Eveleen doesn’t find it difficult to conclude that she, quite unlike her, is under worked and overpaid. She considers to put away her burnt and uneaten microwave cooked pasta but her grumbling stomach makes her change her mind.
After literally swallowing the damn thing, she starts heading upstairs but a knock at the front door startles her.This late at night? she thinks and suspiciously eyes the door. Who could it be?
She tells her curious mind to go and have some sleep – a sensible person would have rang the doorbell instead of knocking – what is it, the nineteenth century? She starts to head back to her room but then there it is – another knock on the door, this one louder than before. She tries to ignore it and go back to sleep but her feet won’t move. Before she can do anything, the knocking starts again and turns into an obnoxiously cheerful beat that makes her jump out of her skin. As if her day hasn’t been bad enough, some idiot has to ruin her night as well. She briefly considers dialing 100 but anger takes the better part of her and she pulls open the door with more force than she needs to.
There in the doorway, silhouetted by the streetlights a man is standing in a heavy brown rain jacket and a leather hat. His eyes are a piercing green and his smile actually sparkled. Is that even possible to have teeth like that? He was a slight man, his arms loaded down with bags of groceries and knick-knack.
“Hello, who might you be?” he asks pleasantly.
Anger swells in her belly and she has an urge to snatch those bags from his hands and hurl them at his face.
“You are the one who is standing on my doorstep,” she points out sternly, her arms crossed across her chest.
He shrugs and grins at her like a man who had just won lottery…what was his problem?
“What are you doing here this late? My parents are out so if you have business with them come tomorrow.”
“No, actually I have business with you,” he smiles an innocent smile that warms her up to the very core – it’s been so long since someone smiled at her this way, she realizes Before she can recover from the effects of this charming man’s smile, he pushes the door open and enters the house.
“Hey! What do you think you are doing?”
He acts as if he didn’t hear her and keeps walking ahead, taking in a good view of her house. He sees a card lying on the center table and picks it up. Eveleen runs and snatches the card away from him – the break-up card her boyfriend gave her just this afternoon.
“Don’t look at others’ private stuff, mister,” she warns him but he takes no notice.
“Eveleen – a lovely name for a lovely woman,” he says in the same charming manner and she thanks her coffee complexion because she knows she must be blushing a bright tomato if not for that.
“I like the paintings you have on your wall, very modern,” the stranger comments as he puts down his bags on the table.
“So do your boyfriend broke up with you?” The stranger asks her innocently. Eveleen has the urge to point out that he should mind his own damn business but that innocent and concerned look on his face won’t let her be so rude.
“Uh, he left me this morning… who are y-“
“A beautiful woman like you? What kind of guy would be so blind to give you up? Do you have any food allergies?” he asks suddenly as he removes his wet hat and jacket to reveal a nice silk dress shirt and pants, his gold watch glittering almost as much as his teeth.
“Uh no? Why do you ask Mr…?” Eveleen begins again trying to interrupt the polite stranger and discern his identity. However, he ignores her question.
“Why, so I can make you dinner. Now you get dressed while I clean this place up, I’ll have it ready in no time.”
Eveleen frowns suspiciously – a man entering her house so late at night just so he can cook and clean for her? And she doesn’t even know his name?
She looks at him for a few moments, thinking what to say but he interrupts her thoughts.
“Please, Eveleen. There is lots to do. You get your best dress on for dinner while I prepare things, we can talk during the meal. Now go, I’ll be in the kitchen. Which way is your kitchen?” he asks looking around the whole place. Eveleen points a hesitant finger towards the door on the extreme left of the room.
“Okay, thanks. Now you rush to your room and get changed,” he tells her like one would tell a small child. She frowns at him but something about him made her follow his instructions without any argument or resistance. She shrugs and heads upstairs to get ready. Putting on her favorite red dress, that fit her curvy frame like a glove, she glanced at her reflection and blushes – she had forgotten how good looking she is. She sat down in front of the mirror and brushes down her lovely tresses which cascade down her shoulders like a dark brown waterfall. She puts on some gloss on her lips for a final touch before getting up and looking at herself – she is beautiful…she is very beautiful, she had only forgotten this. She gives her hair a final turn before putting her stilettos on. She frowns when she remembers the reason she’s bought this dress – her first date with Raman. The sounds of rattling dishes, the slamming cupboard doors and the clanging of utensils brings her out her reverie and she quickly gets on her feet. She considers wearing some jewelry and puts on her small diamond earrings. A fleeting thought about him being a thief who was only bluffing her into believing he was a kind man who wanted to cook for her in the middle of the night crosses her mind but she shoves it down and quickly runs down the stairs.
It is unbelievable – the beauty and simplicity of it is amazing and heart touching.
The dining room is clean. All her work papers, appointments, schedules, drafts, scribbled notes and numbers are piled neatly in a far corner. A red tablecloth is draped over the small and much scratched oak table and two candles burn in her silver candlesticks. Rose petals are scattered around the center of the table and along the walls bringing fragrance to the once musty room. She can hear the sound of rattling of dishes through the kitchen door so she enters.
The day isn’t as bad as she thought. The whole place is in chaos. Cutting boards loaded with meat and vegetables on every available surface and dishes stacked almost to the ceiling in one half of the sink; the other half being used to fill pots of boiling water.
Yet more pots and pans bubble and steam on the stove while her great grandmother’s precious silver dining platters sit closed on a folding cart. They shine, the years of neglect and tarnish having been polished away by the stranger. They looked like new, the entire kitchen and the stranger reflecting in their mirrored surface. A midst the chaos the stranger dances without taking any notice of her, a spoon and a knife in either hand as he glides from stove to sink to cutting board to tray and back again. Her rarely used kitchen now looked more like a highly choreographed Broadway number. His silk shirt and pants, much to her surprise, remain untouched by the inevitable mess and splatter of cooking.
This very odd man who she knows nothing about is making a wonderful meal (she can smell it) in her own kitchen, and for some strange reason she trusts him more than she could trust her best friend cum boyfriend in all these years.
I must be in shock, or I am so stressed that I have fallen asleep and this is all some dream, she mused.
Maybe her terrible job is finally driving her crazy, she concludes silently in her head and watches him hum and dance in her kitchen, meat sizzling in a pan. She silently pinches herself in hopes to wake up from this dream – the dream was great but she wasn’t so weak to make a stupid dream her life – but much to her surprise, she winced at the pain.
So, this isn’t a dream.
Eveleen starts asking him a question or two only to be silenced by him with an elegant wave of his slender fingers. He replaces some things in the oven and slowly fills the silver platters with food that Eveleen couldn’t quite get a good look at. Finally he turns off all of the appliances, fills the rest of the sink with dishes and grabs the rolling cart.
“Shall we head into the dining room, Eveleen?” He asks even as he herded her back there.
She shrugs and smiles, finally giving into the insanity of her situation – maybe it is crazy but still much better than what she was going to do this night anyway. She is in her home in her best dress with a polite young man, who, now that she got a good look at him, with his jet black hair, sparkling green eyes, chiseled chin, and beautiful olive skin was rather handsome. He had cleaned the room, made a very romantic setting and prepared a wonderful smelling dinner (a thousand times better than her measly forgotten microwave pasta). She didn’t know who he was, why he was here, or why she had let this all get so far. But now that she is here, she might as well enjoy it. After all, maybe with a little wine he might tell her his name.
He pulls a chair out for her to sit on, the flickering candlelight, the only illumination, casting soft light about the room. Soft violins begin playing from the bottom of the cart as he picks up the first platter. He removes the lid to reveal two bowls of soup. The soup is white with a bright red sauce forming a swirl around the surface. A single mint leaf perched on the edge. She dipped her spoon in it and tasted it. Whatever it was it tasted fantastic and got her appetite ready for the next dish. She is so excited she can hardly wait.
He opens one of her bottles of wine and poured them each a glass. It was vintage and tasted amazing – just how everything her aunt gifted was amazing.
“Nice wine,” he comments and she nods enthusiastically.
“My aunt gifted this about two years ago – my parents don’t drink so it remained unopened for all this time,” she giggles nervously, hoping he doesn’t think she’s overdressed or awkward.
He chuckles kindly in response and a polite dinner conversation opens over salad (nuts and different leafy lettuces and herbs with a fine blueberry vinaigrette). They discuss the news, weather, as well as some sports over the next course (Lamb chop and a small portion of potatoes surrounded by a fine mint sauce). When he finally placed the main course before her (Pan-seared chicken and roasted asparagus on a bed of creamy potatoes with a tomato white creamy butter) Eveleen opens up completely to his warmth.
As the stranger pours yet another glass of wine, he asks her.
“Do you live alone?”
“No,” she mumbles. “I live with my parents. They both do business and have been travelling too much lately because of a new scheme they’ve introduced.”
“You must feel alone then,” he says calmly with a tone of understanding.
“Alone? Ha! I’m devastated. They called this morning only to tell they won’t be returning for two months. Two months! To make things worse, the very next minute my boyfriend sent me a text saying we’ve grown apart and need to move on and left that stupid break up card on my office desk. I took a day off saying I felt sick,” she pauses and gulps down her wine.
“He’s been going out with my best friend – none of them told me they even liked each other. Which best friend does that?”
The stranger touches her hand sympathetically and she realizes tears she’d been holding before start falling down.
“That’s not the only thing, you know. My boss hates me – he would’ve thrown me out of my job if my dad wasn’t such a prominent person. He openly told me when I was asking for day off that he thinks I’m absolutely incapable of doing this job and that I should consider it a miracle that I’m still in the company.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an accountant. But I hate this job – so boring…so tedious. I love writing stories – creating my own world and flying in it,” she sighed dreamily and the gentleman filled her empty glass again.
“I love reading books too. Have you written anything?”
“I have the plan ready but no inspiration and time,” she mumbled and looked to her side.
He nods in understanding as he eats the fantastically delicious main course. He looks at her with those piercing eyes of his and she feels her heart skip a beat.
“It’s okay, you don’t need to hold those tears back,” he tells her and brushes the skin under her right eye with his thumb and she can’t hold it in.
She cries and rants, and pours her emotions out for him as freely as the wine – her car that was breaking apart, how she wanted to be on her own and not depend on her parents, how mean some of her closest friends could be, how she hated to cook. Eventually, she found had nothing left to complain about. She grasps for something more to say, anything, but she had said it all. She was free and she feels so much better for it. The stranger had listened to everything she’d said with an interest even her (ex) best friend had never been able to show.
She finishes her dinner, each bite tastes much better than the last one with the departure of stress from her mind. They sit in silence as she slowly savors the meal to the very last bite. He waits patiently for her to finish before clearing the table and presenting dessert with a flourish.
Strawberry and champagne sorbet is set before her in a tiny glass bowl and she passes him a warm smile. He places an identical one in front of himself and smiles back at her before sitting down again.The silence is disturbing her more than any noise and she finds herself unwilling to eat until conversation resumed.
“So uh, what about you? Anything interesting to say?” She asks, feeling like a fool even as the words left her mouth – she hadn’t even considered learning anything about him for the whole time she ranted and cried.
But unlike her former cheating boyfriend he doesn’t point out her stupidity.
I’m not sure if you’ll find it interesting but the place I come from is very different from yours” He says kindly and swallows a spoonful of sorbet.
Then he begins to weave amazing tales of his adventures around the country and the world – of the people he had met, the foods he had eaten, and of all the friends he had made. He continues talking for hours as she sits in rapture, awestruck by his life.
Even if he was lying, which for some reason she didn’t think he was, it was an enjoyable and entertaining night. He continues to talk, pausing only to retrieve the final dessert of the meal (a long plate filled with expertly hand crafted sugar lilies, various tiny garnished pastries, and several metallic detailed stuffed chocolates, all hand made. Even the after-dinner mint had her name written across it in chocolate calligraphy).
The candles burned low and eventually the sun peeks out through the drawn curtains, the faint smells of the fantastic dinner lingering in the air.
With crushing realization Eveleen knew the night was about to come to an end but before she could say anything he had excused himself with the cart and the dishes into the kitchen. Eveleen sat at the table, unwilling to stand up. The night had been so magical; she didn’t want it to end. She hears him humming in the kitchen again as pots and pans rattled and water flowed from the tap.
Curiosity takes her and she goes to watch him in action.
The pile of dishes in the sink was gone, the floors and counter tops are empty and sparkling with lemon scented cleaner. Everything is put away in its proper place. He stands in the middle of the kitchen collapsing the cart and putting it in one of the bags he had come in with. He looks up at her and smiled his gorgeous sparkling smile.
“I have something for you.” He said reaching into his bag.
He pulls out a small white box with a red ribbon tied around it. It fit in his palm and was otherwise very ordinary, the first ordinary thing Eveleen had seen of him.
“It’s so you don’t forget this beautiful night, Eveleen. I know you won’t.” He says handing her the present.
She stands there, the box in her hand as he finishes packing his things and retreated to the entryway. She follows him as he put on his hat and coat.
“Well, Eveleen this has been a wonderful evening, I have very much enjoyed your company. You are a very interesting person with an interesting life, I am so sorry the night had to end but I must be going.” He says with genuine sadness.
“It has been a wonderful evening, everything was perfect. It really was magical.” Eveleen replies with the same hint of sadness in her voice.
“Goodbye, Eveleen. You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He says kissing her fondly on the cheek before opening the door and heading down the front steps. She stands there astounded, feeling the slight wetness left on her cheek before running after him.
“Wait!” Eveleen cries out. How could he leave her before even telling who he was?
“Why did you do all this? Why me? Who are you?” she asks him in a quivering voice – she was going to cry again. He turns around and smiles enigmatically.
“Why did I do this? Simple – I have never done anything like this before, it was wonderful. Why you, Eveleen? I simply don’t know but I hope you don’t feel sad anymore.”
“But I don’t even know your name!” She cries in response.
“Well, you should have asked silly. Goodbye, Eveleen He says but before he is able to turn around, Eveleen holds him by his shoulders and kisses him on his lips. The kiss is magical and she is surprised at how good it feels.
“I have to go now. Take care,” he says finally and climbs down the last steps, disappearing around the corner.
The sun is shining brightly over the rooftops igniting the empty street in fiery red light as Eveleen stands there stunned.
Eveleen looks down at her hand, still holding the very ordinary little box. She unties the ribbon and peered inside. It was perfect. There was nothing else he could have given her that could ever be as good as this, it was so beautiful it was almost magical. She will keep it forever.
Eveleen closes her hand around the box closing the lid carefully – a voice, just a little louder than the air fills her ears and she knows who it is.
Troubles are meant to be overcome.
Eveleen straightens her shoulders and heads to her desk. She had called in sick for work before settling down at her computer. Today she would work on her new idea for a novel; she knows just what to write.