A Surprising Coincidence.

I have always been a bibliophile and have a big cupboard full of books collected over many years to show for it. I really don’t have the heart to dispose them or to give them away to some  kindred soul.

Now as we are in the middle of the Corona epidemic with a massive lock down all over, I took to my books for relief and entertainment. Like a ravenous person eating with great relish any food that was accessible to him, I delved into my old collection of books savoring their musty smell, yellowing pages and dog eared corners.

As I kept flipping through the pages of my old paper backs and hardcovers, I got a treasure. A cherished book mark fell out of the pages of a book called Breaking Out by Padma Desai, almost as it was trying to break out of its confines of these long years.

It was a personalized book mark, made by my neighbour and friend, to honour her father after he died. She had given all of us this memento after his memorial service shortly after his death.It still looked good as new despite the intervening years.

The book mark had her father’s photograph, his date of birth and the day he died. On the other side were some profound lines from a hymn.

I was happy to have found the keep sake that reminded me of my friend’s father whom I used call ‘uncle’ with respect and love.  I took a photograph of the book mark and sent it as a whats-app message to my friend, who lives in USA, with a cryptic message.

“Look, what I found!”

I knew she would be happy and surprised.

But her reaction was over whelming.

For the past few days she had been trying to recollect her dad’s favourite hymn. As it sometimes happens, the words were right there on the tip of her tongue but refused to come out. The tune kept reverberating in her mind and she had gone, la la la, the whole day long. Yet she could not hit on that song,  evading her memory.

Even her sister could not recollect it. Neither could her husband.

When she had all but given up hope of remembering the hymn, it pops up on her phone as a message from me. It was an uncanny coincidence to be sure.

Now I read the words on the flip side of the book-mark with genuine interest.

It read, “God  give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…Courage to change the things I can…And Wisdom to know the difference.”

Lovely words!

Thank you uncle, for reaching out to us.

From the beyond.

Image courtesy of Stuart Mile @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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The Boy Who Came To Her House To Help Her Celebrate.

It was the festival of Krishna Jayanthi. People who worshiped Lord Krishna  were celebrating the deity’s birthday with much gaiety and happiness.

Only Manjula was sad that day.

Manjula was a person whom other women could describe in all truthfulness as “a very nice lady.”

She had no children even after many years of marriage. Though she longed for a child, she did not go about with a forlorn face. She was quiet and unassuming and always portrayed a happy demeanor.

But that festival day, her husband had scolded her early in the morning for an imagined fault. He had stomped out of the house  with out wishing her or having breakfast. Manjula felt very bitter and lonely and she lost all interest in doing anything significant that day.

She neither bathed nor wore new clothes. But feeling guilty about ignoring the deity on an auspicious day, she made some kheer (sweet dish) and left it before Lord Krishna’s statue in her hall. Then she lay in her bed covering herself from head to foot with a blanket and carried on an imaginary conversation with the deity in her mind.

“Lord, I am facing so many disappointments in my life. I worship you devoutly every day. Yet on this day, you have made me more unhappy then ever. If my piety is true, show me a sign to make me get up from this bed and worship you today.”

She lay in bed crying silently. A few minutes passed by.

Then she heard the sound of  steel plates crashing on the marble floor in her hall. Jostled out of her indifference, Manjula rushed out.

There sitting on the floor, before the statue of Lord Krishna was:


A bonny baby Krishna, cute and smiling, wearing silk clothes, and a peacock feather in his hair.

And he was gulping down the kheer that she had kept before his statue. When he saw her, he drank the kheer hurriedly, gave a naughty satisfied smile and came running to her and hugged her around her legs.

For many minutes Manjula’s world stopped.

Then bending down, she picked up the child and rained kisses on his face, hands and hair, even as the boy’s mother came looking for him.

For indeed, it was the boy who lived in the first floor of her house. He had dressed up as Lord Krishna for his kindergarten school competition that day and had come into her house to show off his costume.

But for Manjula, her day was made. She had got the sign she wanted.

It was as if Lord Krishna himself had come in person and was mocking her for her childishness in refusing to accept the significance of that day.

Manjula dried her tears. She blessed  the child and gave him sweets and money and  his mother, she presented the beautiful saree she had bought to wear that day.

Then she went ahead to celebrate the festival in all earnestness and religious fervor

P.S: I need not add that Krisna Jayanthi that year was extra special in Manjula’s house.


Image By Nina Garman from Pixabay

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The Sad Tale Of How He Gave Up Drinking.

Ravi was an alcoholic. A terrible one at that. He was always in an inebriated state, which saddened his wife Pooja very much.

Pooja ran from addiction cure centers to psychiatric clinics to God men. But no one could stop Ravi from hitting the bottle every day.

Pooja and Ravi had been married for more than ten years. But Pooja had not been able to conceive. Under the influence of alcohol, Ravi would insult Pooja and blame her for his perpetual tipsy state.

Whenever she asked Ravi,”Why are you always drunk?” he would reply callously, “You  have not given me a child. The day you have a baby, I will stop drinking.”

These were his oft repeated words. “On the day you give birth to my child, I will stop drinking.”

Pooja, believed her husband’s words, even though he imbibed more and more of the toxic stuff and showed no signs of slackening.

She thought that if she gave birth to his child, he would turn over a new leaf and stop drinking.

She coaxed her husband to take her to an expensive fertility clinic. The Gods were with her and she finally managed to conceive.

Her parents took her to their house. They wanted to take care of her as she was weak both mentally and physically.

Ravi was happy too, that his wife had finally managed to conceive a child.  He  joined a alcohol de-addiction center and worked to give up his addiction.  But it was too late. Ravi’s health had begun to deteriorate. Chronic heavy drinking had led to cirrhosis of the liver, beyond medical help.

Pooja did not know that. When it was Pooja’s due date, she was taken to her maternity hospital. Ravi too had to be admitted at a hospital in a bad state.

Both huband and wife were in different hospitals, on the same day. One fighting for his life and the other trying to bring two lives into this world.

Pooja gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Even as her babies cries awakened her to the world of motherhood, Ravi had breathed his last. He had died without knowing that his wife had given birth to his children.

Pooja was not told the sad news for sometime. She excitedly asked her mother,

“Where is my husband?”

“He died this morning.”  Her mother broke the news to her in frightened tones.

I cannot describe in words, what took place then as the new mother howled and cried and her mother tried to console her.

Though convulsed with sobs, Pooja remembered her late husband’s oft repeated promise.

“On the day you give birth to my baby, I will give up drinking.”

“Is this what he meant, Amma?” Pooja wept ,” Even though an alcoholic, my husband was a good man. He will not drink anymore.”

“He has kept his promise.”

Story by M. Written by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.

Image courtesy:

rebbeccadavitt0 from Pixabay

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ClkerFree-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

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Selecting A Bride

Though I had studied in a co-education institution and later worked in a multinational company, I had not fallen in love with any girl. When I turned  twenty seven without a bride in the offing, it was my mother’s lot to find me a better-half . She hit the matrimonial sites in earnest and both of us combed through the numerous girls’ bio-data given there to find me a spouse.

“Did I want a working girl?”

Did I want a tall/short/thin/fat girl?”

“Should the bride be fair skinned/ medium complexioned/ dark?”

So many questions. So many options.

When we had selected the girls whom we thought were promising, we called up  the telephone numbers given in their column and talked to them. If things moved from there , we were invited to meet the girl and her family.

I don’t know about the others, but in my case, the two alliances we followed up did not work out. They just taught me a lesson on the psychology of girls.

Now that I am happily married, I find those two episodes very comical and can laugh about it to my lovely understanding wife.

The first girl I went to see was described to me by her mother as being “soft spoken, gentle and home loving.”

I asked permission to talk to her privately. We were both left to conduct a conversation and decide for ourselves if we were compatible.

As soon as we were alone the girl said:

“I am not anything like the person my mother  described to you. I am very MODERN in my attitude.”

“In what way?” I asked taken aback by her forth-rightness.

“I will not wear a burqa (a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by Muslim women as a sign of modesty)

I laughed.

Pointing to my old homely mother I said, “My mother does not wear a burqa. Does that make her modern?

She blinked. “I did not mean it,  in that way,” she said but failed to elucidate in what way she was MODERN.

We talked for sometime. From her reluctance to open up, I knew that she was not interested in marrying me.

When it was time to leave, I put out my hand to her for a hand shake. She balked a moved back, like a docile Indian girl.

I teased her. “Why are you not shaking hands with me. You said you were very ‘MODERN’ right?

I did not draw away my hand and she had to shake it, although reluctantly. Anyway, that alliance did not come through.

The second girl on my list had a friendly father and soon we both were chatting like good friends. Matters moved at a brisk pace and he and his wife visited our house and we were invited to theirs.

On the first visit, they did not allow me to talk privately with the girl by quoting a religious reason.

I was not happy to proceed further with out talking with her and knowing her wishes.

Few days later, we were  invited to their house for lunch. This time  I found an opportunity to talk to her alone in her balcony and I asked her, “Looks like our parents are ready to fix the wedding date. Are you happy with it?”

“No.” She replied.


“No . I don’t want to marry you. I am in love with another person. My parents are against that boy and are trying to fix my wedding with you”

“Why are they against him?”

“Because he is  a car-mechanic and not from our caste or social standing. Also he does not have a educational qualification. But I feel that LOVE is above all these things.”

I totally agreed with her that love matters most in any marriage.

“Have you known the boy for a long time ?” I questioned her.

“Three months!’

“You are joking right?” I ventured.

At this , her face contorted in anger and she said rudely, “Hey Man. Are you an idiot? I am talking so seriously about my lover and you think that I am joking? Have you never been in love before?”

I replied in the negative.

“Then you are a Deva (God),”  she said and walked away to her room.

I started shaking with anger. I wanted to leave immediately but I did not want to create a scene in the girl’s house. But her parents were leading me to the lunch table and I got no opportunity to tell my mother anything

Luckily at that time my phone rang. It was only a service call from my phone company but I pretended that it was from my office and they were calling me on a matter of utmost urgency.

“A beam crashed down? OMG! Hope no one got hurt. Yes. Yes. I am coming immediately.” I made an imaginary conversation with a mute phone and walked quickly to my car without eating and drove away with my mother.

Her father rang me up that evening and begged my forgiveness as he had guessed what might have transpired between his daughter and me and he wished me well.

I wished him best of luck too, as he really needed dollops of good wishes having an  irresponsible daughter like that.

I am NOW happily married to a wonderful girl. My father’s best friend brought this alliance. I got to talk to the girl properly before  agreeing to the match.

When I said my favourite line,

“Looks like our parents are ready to fix the wedding date. Are you happy with it?”

I liked her calm reply.

“If that is my father’s decision, then I am happy with it, one hundred percent.”

Story By S. Written by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

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Is There Life After Death?

When my sons were in the primary school, I was a member of the ‘Parent-Teacher’ association. It was quite a friendly group of parents who got together with the teachers a few times a year and discussed school matters and helped out  in the school’s  extra curricular activities.

We were the same set of members for many years together, till our children graduated from school. The parents themselves became comradely and would drop in at each other’s houses. We parents had our own outings and attended parties and festival gatherings of all the association members.

In short we became good friends.

Now it is many years since my children attended school. They are married with kids of their own. But my stint at the school association remains a happy memory to me.


One person who was a hero of our association was Mr.Ilango. He was someone whom you could rightly refer to as, ‘a jolly good fellow.’

He and his wife would invite us home often and serve us scrumptious meals. He would manage to get tickets for good movies for all of us and what a treat we had. Also he was such a chatter box that he could wax eloquent on any topic under the sun.

There was another lady in our group Mrs.Sara, who was as witty as him. They  kept our group an active and a happy one.

Then my husband died!

It was a sad time for me and I dropped out of the group as I was busy with so many things.

Once I happened to take my children to a book shop in a mall in our city. My children were occupied in the kid’s section and I wandered among the aisles looking at the books in the shelves. One book caught my eye. It was in the philosophy section and the title was, “Is There Life After Death.”

Being drawn to it for obvious reasons, I picked it up and became engrossed in it.

The next day, Mrs. Sara rang me up. She said that Mr.Illango had come to the book shop the previous evening and had seen me there.

He had wanted to come over and talk to me. But seeing the book that I was reading, he had not wanted to disturb me. He told Mrs.Sara that “his heart had bled seeing me seek answers to questions taunting me after my husband died, in the philosophy section of a book shop.”

I  lost touch with my school group after a few years. Mrs.Sara would call me occasionally, mostly on my birthday which fell on the same day as her sister’s.

She told me one day that Mr.Ilango who was much younger to me, was suffering from cancer and was slowly dying. It broke my heart that such a man as him, who was the epitome of life was, slowly dying.

A few months later, I saw his obituary announcement in the papers.

I wished I had visited him when he was sick. But I knew that my heart too would have bled to see him on his death bed.

When ever I see the book I had bought that day at the book shop, when Mr.Ilango had not wanted to disturb me, I think of him.

I wonder with a saddened heart if  Mr.Ilango would have found out for himself the answer.

The answer to that baffling question.

“Is there Life After Death?’

Is there??!!


Story written By Gulsum Basheer @ Talkalittledo

Image by: My Graphic Tablets from Pixabay

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The Grandmother’s Decision- Right Or Wrong?

As a child my relative’s daughter grew up in her grandmother’s house. Her mother had died when she was young and her father had remarried. The grandmother had taken responsibility of the girl and even though they belonged to a middle class family, the lady had brought up the child well and instilled her with good values. She also educated her up to under graduate level.

The granddaughter was a lovely girl,  witty and so full of life. Everyone loved to converse with her as her jokes and repartee kept them in splits.

The grandmother adored her granddaughter.

When it was time to get her married, many proposals came for the girl. While the lady was deliberating over each proposal, a very rich and well known family approached her. They were eager to get the girl married to their youngest son. Everyone was surprised and happy. They thought the girl was going to have an affluent life.

But the grandmother refused the proposal.

“Why did you reject this proposal?” People asked in surprise. “She would have lived like a queen, in that house.”

“No. My granddaughter would not thank me for it.”

The grandmother told people that every day of her life, her granddaughter would be thinking, “had my mother been alive, she would not have done this.”

“Why don’t you ask her and let her decide.” The relatives badgered her. “You are denying her a rich life. What sort of a groom can you find for her on your meager income?”

The grand mother did not budge from her decision. Her mind was made up. She sent word to the rich people with a negative answer and they too were shocked.

She got her granddaughter married to a man of her choice from a back ground that was as humble as hers.

Many times when her head was bowed in prayer, the old woman asked the supreme being if she had done the right thing. She often wished that the rich family proposal had not come for the girl. She knew that all her life she would be told by people that she had taken a wrong decision.

But every time she saw her granddaughter with her husband, chatting nineteen to a dozen, teasing and making him laugh with her wit, she would sigh and think, “May God be my witness. I am sure I did the right thing.”

Are you wondering, what was wrong with the rich boy? Why did she refuse that proposal?

The boy from the wealthy, well known family was… DEAF and DUMB.

Readers, please reply. Was the grandmother’s decision, right or wrong?

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OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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Can We Give Up On Life?

Some years ago, being disappointed and disillusioned with myself and being low in self esteem, I decided to leave it all.

With some thirty thousand rupees, I left my city and drove north east from Chennai. My idea was to reach Calcutta.

Maybe drive into obscurity.

I passed through many cities, Guntur, Vijayawada, Vizag, Bhubaneswar, meaning to drive to Behampur. But at Badrak, a cyclone hit the town and I was forced to stop there.

I checked into a hotel on the high-way and waited for the storm to subside.

When calm prevailed, I hit the road again. There was this guy, who asked me for a lift.

As we drove along, we began chatting. I opened up to him and poured out my woes, knowing fully well that I would not meet this stranger again. He understood the plight and confusion I was going through. He  did not advice me or analyse my problem.

“You need the intervention of a higher being,” he said and suggested that I go to this temple town, where the residing deity would show me the right way.

I dropped him off at one exit to Paradeep, and looked up the road sign there. The board pointed to the temple town on the left and Bhubaneswar straight ahead. I took the road going straight ahead . Meeting the lord of the holy town was not on my agenda.

I climbed the flyover and after some twists and turns, I noticed that I had taken some wrong turning and my car was not heading for Bhubaneswar, my original destination. I was in fact going towards the temple town which the man had suggested.

I was jolted for a moment.

I broke into goose bumps. A twist of fate  wanted me to pay my obeisance to the Lord there and own up to Him all my fears and doubts. Who am I to go against the working of the ‘higher-being?’

So I drove on into the holy town  and checked into a hotel.

I went in search of the deity. But the temple had closed for the night.

I started to walk along the sea front, savoring the cool breeze.

As I kept walking not able to decide what to do, I landed up at a crematorium right there on the beach. A corpse was being burnt in the open and the sea breeze was flaming the pyre into a big flame. The man in charge of the cremation of the body had a long stick, with which he was beating the body as it burnt.

(Sometimes the burning body would move due to some relaxation of the muscles as they burnt under tremendous temperature. So in open crematoriums, there was always a man with a stick to beat the body down into the fire.)

Even as the man beat the corpse, he was mumbling and talking to himself.

Seeing me observing him from a little distance away, he said loudly, so his voice carried over the sound of the waves and the scream of the winds:

“However great a person may be, he ends up like this only, sir… In the meantime, look at all the mischief he gets into.”

Hearing his words, it was as if a spear had pierced into my heart.

My whole life flashed before my eyes. What dreams! What aspirations! What mistakes! Finally, it all ended like this.

Each blow on the burning corpse began to hurt me, opening my moronic mind to the bare facts of life. We come with nothing, and go with nothing. Life is the most precious gift we have been given. It was wrong to throw it away when we wish.

I stood alone that dark evening a mute witness to someone’s cremation, watching the fire burn the corpse completely till only embers remained.

I cried. Oh, how I cried. Like I had never cried before.

My sobs were shaking my body, my tears mingling with the salty sprays from the waves and my supplications rising above the flames and carried no doubt to the deity who had brought me to his portals.

I had driven too far and got this close to the exit. But the Lord had driven me to his holy town, not to die. But to find peace.

So I found peace and courage also to face life.

I thought of my wife and children who would be in horrible trouble if I went missing. I regretted what I had contemplated doing. I decided to turn back.

I returned to my hotel room and rang up my wife and told her where I was.

The next morning I paid my respects to the Lord of that holy city, who had saved me. I drove back the way I had come. This time with a destination in mind.

Back to my family.

Back to LIFE.

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