Grandmother’s Red Chillies.


In our home town deep in the south of India, people believed  in the powers of the evil eye. When your life was all smooth sailing and suddenly  calamities appear to rock your boat then it was assumed that an envious person had sent bad vibes your way and cast his or her evil eyes on you.

Asma’s grandmother was a staunch believer in the detrimental effects of the evil eye.

If she suspected that someone had cast their evil eyes on the family, she would take immediate action to avoid its effect. She had a potent countermeasure to ward off these malevolent forces.

Red Chillies!

When ever she spied Asma being listless or coming down with some illness  or if some unforeseen misfortune strikes their family, she would bring out the red chillies.

This is how it worked.

She would take an odd number of chillies in her fist and she would wave her hand before Asma, from down to up and inside to out,  in a circular manner muttering her chants.  Asma herself thought that the casting off  process  was all hogwash  She laughed at her grandmother’s  chanting as mumbo jumbo.

Asma would run to hide if they saw the chillies come out. The chants muttered by her grandmother were also too funny to say the least. It went like this:

“Go away evil eyes of the demon, evil eyes of the neighbors, evil eyes of the maids , evil eyes of the relative, evil eyes of the strangers …”

Asma would make fun of her grandmother by adding her own take on the charm.”Go away evil eyes of this one, evil eyes of that one …” while her grandmother gave her dagger looks to make her hold her tongue.

After the casting off ritual was over, the grandmother would take the chillies and burn them in the charcoal stove in the backyard.. The smoldering peppers let off  a pungent  smell and made everyone sneeze. But her grandmother would be pleased as  punch saying that the effect of the evil eye was leaving their house.

After her grandmother died, this practice petered out. But some years later something happened to make Asma remember her grandmother’s red chillies.

A few ladies  had come to visit Asma. They came from a lower middle class family and were awed by everything in her house. They kept exclaiming over her possessions, all the paraphernalia she had collected over the years and beautified her house with. They commented on the furniture in the hall, the crockery in the kitchen and even the plants in the garden.

In the beginning, being an innocent person, Asma was actually very pleased with their praises.

After tea, when they were about to leave, Asma’s mother who was getting ready to go to the beach with Asma’s dad and her children, offered to drop them home on the way.

One of the ladies in the group being more impertinent than the others blurted out, “you rich people, with cars and drivers…can go anywhere you want, any time you want.”

Asma was shocked and put off by their words, so full of envy. But her mom just laughed at their impudence and gave them a lift to their destination.

Long before her parents and kids were expected home, her door bell rang. Opening the door Asma found that it was them outside, all in an agitated state. Her dad was bleeding in his legs, with his clothes all torn and soiled. Her mom was in tears and the kids weeping in distress.

“What happened? What happened?” Asma asked terrified.

“A stray dog on the beach was growling at the children. I tried to chase it away. But it turned on me and  took hold of my pant legs and would not let it go. I got bitten while trying to free myself from its hold.

Her father was trying to sound brave despite being thoroughly shaken by the experience while her kids would not stop crying.

“Ring up your husband quickly.” Her dad ordered her.  Asma’s husband was a doctor and the need of the hour.

What had started off as  a happy outing had turned into a blighted one. It was quite a horrible evening and a long time before everyone settled down. Her father was attended to, the kids were pacified and her mom’s tension was mitigated.

Asma’s thought about her grandmother who would surely not have let them go out after hearing those ladies’ envious words. She would have done her ritual to ward off the evil eye, before she let her family venture out.

Asma talked about the day’s events with her mother later that night. Words like  Evil Eyes, Drishti and Buri Nazar  which her grandma used to repeat often, came to her mind.

“Are these things true?” Asma questioned her mom.

“May be true.” Her mother replied, still shaken by the bad experience at the beach.  “You are never quite sure about such things.”

Asma agreed with her. Yes, you can never be sure about some beliefs.

True or not. Asma does not probe deeper. She is wary of the green eyed monster.

These days, Asma says that she  finds herself reaching for the red chillies container, every time she fears that someone might have cast their evil eyes on her.

“Better  to be safe than sorry.” She says, shuddering at the memory of that evening when the envious relatives visited her home.

Image courtesy: Hieu Ngo, Clkr Free Vector- Images @ Pixabay.








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My Pop Died.

When my friend’s daughter  joined a professional college, she made a few new friends. Since their classes started by 8 am every morning, the friends would ring each other up at around 6 am, kind of like a wake-up call, so that none of them would oversleep and they could all come to college on time.

This arrangement suited them fine and everything went on well for some months.

Early one morning when my friend’s daughter was hovering between sleep and wakefulness and wondering how many more minutes of shut-eye she would be able to squeeze in before the wake-up call came, the phone rang.

Cursing her friends for being more prompt than a rooster on a farm yard, she answered the call and in her semi comatose state heard her friend Geetha say:

“My pop died.”

Jolted awake by the appalling news, she tried to find words to console Geetha, but her grief stricken friend had rung off with a sob.

My friend’s daughter called the other friends in her group and told them that Geetha’s father had passed on.  The unhappy girls discussed the matter for some time and decided to make a condolence visit to Geetha’s residence and pay their last respects to her father and also support their friend who would be disconsolate at a time like this.

It was agreed among themselves that they would meet in college, take a call-taxi and go to the bereaved one’s house.

They acted upon their plan and arrived at their friend’s place with much trepidation.

The house was quiet with no signs of any activity.

The door was opened by Geetha’s mother who lifted her eyebrows in surprise to see the bunch of  sad girls standing at her door steps.

The girls stammered, “Aunty, Geetha told us … we came to offer our condolences.”

With more eye-brow lifting the lady exclaimed, “Good Heavens! ” and took them indoors.

“Anyway he was lame. Good he went quickly without suffering much.”  She said and her levity troubled the visitors.

Also there was no sign of her husband’s body or of her daughter Geetha.

“Where is Geetha, aunty? they dared to ask.

“I made her go to college. She would have been crying the whole day, if she had stayed home.”

The girls sat for sometime not knowing what the protocol was at such a place and also bewildered that Geetha’s mother was making small talk with them.

After sometime, they stood up to leave.

“It was very sweet of you to have come.” The mother mouthed even though her expression seemed to say that she found them droll.

“So sorry aunty.” They said as they trooped out, somber as pall bearers at a  funeral.

Geetha meantime had reached their college. Searching for her usual group of friends, she was told that they had gone to her house. They had received information that her father had died.

It was Geetha’s turn to be shocked.

She hurried home and just as she landed at her door, bawling like a baby,  her visibly distressed friends came out, followed by her mother.

The mother already thinking that it was a bit too much that she had to deal with a crowd of  dismal youngsters on an empty stomach prior to eating her well cooked breakfast, was put off to see her daughter joining them as well, crying, ‘daddy, daddy.’

A minute later, someone else also stepped out to join the bewildered party.

It was Geetha’s  father himself.  Large as life. “Can a man not have some peace in this house?” His voice rang out.

Petrificus Totalus!!

The girls  stood shell shocked. What was happening? It was the most awkward two minutes of their lives.

Imagine this scenario. You think a man is dead. But he is not . How do you tell him, “Sorry uncle. We thought you had died. You haven’t?  Our mistake. Sorry again.”  That too after you had just offered your condolences to his presumably bereaved wife.

It was a tricky situation. Not something you could talk your way out off. Nothing but the truth would suffice.

So the preposterous story was told in halting tones by the friends, punctuated with loud guffaws from the father, many exasperated noises from the mother and giggling from Geetha.

Geetha’s original message which had made her friends hurry to her home had been:

My pup died.

Their loyal Pomeranian, the darling of the household and Geetha’s loving pet had breathed his last that morning and had been buried under the neem tree in the garden.

A message received while still half asleep had led to this embarrassment.

For all their troubles, the girls did not get to see a corpse that day, of a man or  an animal. 

They went back to college having missed most of their morning classes and  their classmates who heard the story never let them live it down. They were always known as ‘the girls who went to a canine’s funeral.’

As for Geetha’s pop, he did not miss an opportunity to tease my friend’s daughter with these words:

“On the day I died,  it seems like your  hearing faculty had gone to the dogs!



Photo Credit—Eominna, Open-ClipArt-Vectors, Natalia Laverinecko, No-longer-here, Coffee-Bean @ Pixabay





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Shyam And His Woodpeckers.

Though my neighbour Shyam and I live in a large metropolis we are one of the few lucky ones to have our residences in a sylvan locality aptly named Aspiran Garden.

Huge trees grow on either side of our colony roads. These trees are the Copperpod trees also known as the yellow-flamboyant. The trees  throw a canopy of shade on our houses and during some months of the year,  bloom in all their glory . The strewn flowers completely cover our roads as if  they had been deluged by golden showers.

Our trees are also home to many birds which awaken us early every morning with their choruses. The Indian Koel which shouts cuckoo  in a plaintive voice as if  soulfully calling out to a lost lover. The  pigeons roosting in apartment crevices,  the omnipresent ravens and some parrots too . The rare addition is a few woodpeckers whose pecking sounds  can be  heard consistently, making us marvel at their perseverance.

Being a lover of nature, Shyam watched as a few pairs of woodpeckers inspected the  trees near his house. One pair selected  the huge old tree right opposite his house. From early April, the mated pair started excavating the tree trunk, bored a hole and made a cozy nest for themselves. It was a tremendous and meticulous job by his feathered friends. 

By May, the eggs had hatched and Shyam could hear the young ones chirping in their cubbyhole while the adults took seriously to parenting which mainly involved feeding the hungry fledglings. It was a beautiful sight seeing the hovering birds flying about, neither minding the watchman who sat near the tree nor the cars that plied that way. They were not bothered by the early morning walkers nor kids on tricycles.

They lived their life , free as a … ummm… bird.

Then the lockdown happened.

Shyam was at home because of the quarantine. Though he could watch his adopted pets from afar, he could not venture to peep into their home as his curiosity prompted him to. The apartment complex which housed the woodpecker’s tree had Covid 19 patients and was out of bounds to all.

Shyam could only spy on them from his house a few metres away.

Last Sunday,  around mid morning, the birds fell ominously silent. Not a tweet or a twitter out of them The parents were not to be seen and the juvenile birds  also seemed dead to the world.

What happened? Did they fall prey to some wild cat or had they moved away? But the chicks had not learnt to fly yet.

Shyam grew restless. He had come to love the birds and wanted nothing unfortunate to happen to them.

Then he noticed that the colony had grown dark. The solar eclipse was making the world grey and unreal. The residents of the colony were all indoors. The birds had followed suit.

 Did they fear the eclipse?

 Shyam  realized with a surge of joy that the birds had thought  that it was dusk and they had come home to the safety of their homes as they do every evening. That was the simple answer.

The dear little birds had mistaken the eclipse induced dullness to night time.

They had come home to roost.

When the eclipse was done and gone and the world became bright again  the people began to stir in their homes. Then the birds came out. Bright and chirpy as they did every morning.

The parent birds began feeding their chicks in a frenzy of activity and vocalization as if making up for lost time.

The area was filled with their happy bonhomie noises.

Shyam was happy.

God is in heaven and all is right with the world.

PS: Now Shyam is waiting to see his babies soar.

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A Tribute To My Father.

My father was a school dropout.

Yet there was no man who loved education as much as him. His English knowledge was mostly self taught. Our house was filled with books and magazines of the highest caliber: Time, Span, Illustrated Weekly Of India , National Geographic and The Hindu Newspaper.

Yet his English tripped him up often.

Once when we were going by road to our native town, we passed by rows and rows of Gulmohar Trees, profuse with orange and red flowers.

I pointed it out to my sons and said that they were also called, “Flame of the forest.” My father loved that name.

“I did not know that.” He said wonderingly. “Why is it called that?”

“Because it would look like the forest was on fire, if a whole lot of these grew close together.” I told him.

Later when we were coming back, we passed by the very same trees. He excitedly pointed them out and said, “Fire in the jungle trees!” In fact he said ‘jungle’ in our native vernacular tongue, “Fire in the kaadu.”

It took a long time for our laughter to subside and he joined with us in laughing at himself.

“I studied in a village school pa. Not in your prestigious ———– school,” he said mentioning the famous school where he had got admission for my sons with great difficulty.

Once my father was searching for a word in the dictionary. We had a humongous English to Tamil lexicon at home . My father was flipping the pages in frustration not able to find the word he wanted. The morning paper was open before him. Then he called me to his aid.

He pointed to the headline in the paper which said, ‘Railway station sans trains.’

“What does ‘sans’  mean? I am not able to find the word here”.

Seeing his predicament, I told him that ‘sans’ was a French word which meant ‘without.’ I flipped the dictionary to last few pages where there was a section dedicated to “Foreign words used in English often.” Sure enough, ‘sans’ was listed there.

I do not remember why there were no trains in the station that day. But I do remember my father, whenever I come across the word ‘sans’.

One faux pas of my dad, which I thought was too funny was this.

My father ran a big hotel and was used to seeing different types of people coming in to eat at the restaurant.

One day my father mentioned a big business man’s name and said that he had come to lunch with a ‘sweet in the hand.’

“What?” my sister and I were flummoxed. “Why would he bring a sweet to a hotel. Was he not satisfied with the desserts on our menu?”

“No ma. You know ‘sweet in the hand…sweet in the hand.” he said laughing.

“What sweet in the hand?”  We asked not knowing what he meant.

“You said that if an older man came with a young pretty girl friend, she was his sweet in the hand.”

Now we under stood what he was trying to say. As usual he had stored that word in our mother tongue Tamil in his mind and made a literal translation into English when articulating it.

The expression my poor dad was trying to convey was:


PS: My father is no more. But today as I write this I know that what I am , is because of him. He made books my best friends for life.

He may have got his ‘fire in the jungle’ wrong.

But his children and his children’s children don’t.

We speak and write pretty good English, ‘SANS’ mistakes.






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Tender Coconuts At One Rupee Less

My uncle, that is my father’s brother, was a  tight fisted person. Frugal and very thrifty. His miserly nature never failed to raise a laugh in our family.

I lived two houses away from him and was often the victim of his hawk eyes especially when I came back from a  vegetables or fruits shopping trip.

If he saw me walking by carrying a shopping bag, he would stop me. He would look through all my purchases and ask me how much I paid for each item.

He would gasp at some of the stuff I had bought and chide me.

“How much did you pay for this? Thirty Rupees per kilo? But four shops away in the other store I bought them for twenty five rupees only, just two days ago” he would inform me proudly as if he had clinched a big business deal.

I would reply exasperatedly,”Uncle, the prices must have gone up since then.”

There is this funny incident about my uncle which my husband never lets me forget.

Once my husband and I wanted to go to a holy shrine  in a different town far away from where we were residing. We planned to have a religious ceremony for my toddler son there. As was the custom, we invited my mother, father, my siblings and their families, this uncle and his wife to accompany us. 

My husband booked a van and we travelled the 300 km in great bonhomie. We chatted. We sang old film songs. We played games. We had a great time.

On the highway, we saw a man selling tender coconuts under a tree. Before we could tell the driver to slow down we had passed him. 

My father said, “we will find many such hawkers along the way. Let us stop by the next man and buy the coconuts.”

The driver was instructed to stop the van when we saw another man selling coconuts on the roadside. Eventually after a few kilometres drive, we spied another seller , slowed down and stopped beside him. All of us got out to  stretch our legs.

My uncle started bargaining with the vendor.

“How much is  a coconut?”

“Ten Rupees sir.”

“Ten rupees?  They are so small too. Even in my big city they cost less. You are trying to cheat us.”

“No sir. Everywhere it is the same price.”

My uncle started haggling with him. But the man would not budge from his price and my uncle would not let us buy even one.

“All of you get back into the van. Let us go back to the last fellow we saw some minutes ago.The coconuts he was selling seemed bigger.”

Even though we all protested, my uncle was adamant.

By now my son and my sister’s daughters were clamoring for tender coconut water. My husband was annoyed.“Uncle, we saw the previous seller many miles ago. We have to drive all the way back.”

It was not to be. When uncle had made up his mind, we had no other go but to comply.

We all trooped back into the van. 

The driver was disgruntled. “Sir, let us proceed. It is not good to take U-turns on a highway like this.”

“Go, Go. Don’t argue. Just do as we say.”

Cursing and muttering under his breath, the driver made a U-turn on the highway while  I called on my family deity to whose shrine we were going. “Please God. Bring us all to your portals safely.”

 The children started crying with disappointment.  My mom was put off. “I so badly wanted to quench my thirst.”

His wife, resigned to his behavior just said, “God, why did you make this man so stingy.”

My husband was annoyed with my uncle.

“Does your uncle know that I am paying for this trip. I would have paid for the coconuts. It is not as if the money was going to come  out of his pockets.” He muttered into my ears, even as I tried to stifle a laugh and placate everyone.

We drove back the way we had come and after five miles we saw the previous seller.

 The price he quoted was just one rupee less. Before my uncle could butt in, my husband took the situation in hand and in a jiffy the coconuts were slit open and we started enjoying the refreshing drink.

My uncle would not be satisfied, “ What is this son? If we had bargained, we could have bought it even for eight rupees each”

When it was time to pay, he started to argue with the poor villager whose only livelihood probably was selling a few coconuts on the national highway.

“See we have bought fifteen coconuts. You have to give us a discount.”

The man started pleading.

“Sir, Sir. You are my only customer today. I can’t afford to give a discount.”

My uncle started an argument,  “All you guys mouth the same dialogue. You have to give us a discount.”

My husband somehow diffused the situation or we would have stood there for another good ten minutes quarreling  with the villager.

As we were driving back, my husband calculated in his mind how much we had saved by paying one rupee less on the coconuts.

 He whispered to me, “the amount we  have spent on the petrol, driving five miles up and five miles down is more than how much we have saved on the coconuts.”

I hushed my husband, in case my uncle heard him, even though the same thought was running through my mind too.

Anyway, we reached our destination and everything proceeded well by God’s grace.

But even to this day, we laugh when we think of my uncle and how we had taken a long detour just for a few coconuts.

At one of his daughter’s betrothal functions he had ‘booked’ a music troop (Nadhasvaram Goshti) . The music troop arrived much after the  ceremonies were over.

When we asked my irate aunt what happened, she beat upon her head and said in harassed tone, ” may be, your  stingy uncle  did not give them any travel allowances (auto fare) and they  walked all the way down to the venue”

Which for all we know, could have been true.

Later this uncle built houses  for his three daughters. Every time we passed down that way, my husband would point to it and recite,

“This is the house that Uncle Jack built.”

But he would always end the rhyme by saying, “with the money he saved by buying coconuts for one rupee less.”

Image courtesy_ Iqbal, Annalise Batista, 200degrees and OpenClipart-vectors from Pixabay


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Some things Are Not Meant To Be.

Whenever I met Salma aunty at weddings and social gatherings, she would say something to me that I thought was very funny. I had a tough time not cracking up and laughing every time she said that.

Salma aunty was my dad’s cousin. She was a very sweet lady, always smiling and talking. Every time we bumped into each other, which was not too often, as we lived in different towns, she would always chat with me for some time. When she took leave of me, she would say THAT.

I often  teased my dad about her proclamation and he would say , “I have come up in life . That is why she says that. If I had fallen on dire straits, her thoughts would have been different.”

Well, the story goes like this. When my father and Salma aunty were young, the elders decided that they should get married. They got engaged and my father who was working in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) was over the moon.

Their wedding was to take place two years later. During this period, when my father came down to India, he would bring lovely gifts for Salma aunty. Heart shaped boxes of chocolates, imported from Britain. Tin boxes of biscuits with cardamom icing. Delicate laces which Ceylon was famous for. Tea leaves for her dad. Cinnamon sticks to spice up her mother’s curry. Lovely gifts for his future wife. My grandmother and aunt  tease him even to this day, about his well thought out tokens of love.

But sad to say, something untoward happened at that time. My father did not marry his cousin Salma.

Salma aunty’s  older sister, a mother of two, died suddenly of some rare disease. The motherless children clung to Salma for love. Faced with such a situation, her parents took the decision which was customary in those times. Salma would marry her sister’s husband and be a good mother to those children.

I don’t know if Salma protested or not. It may seem very surprising to us now. But in those days, girls like Salma were like the sacrificial goat. They were garlanded and with heads bowed,  led to the altar their parents decided upon.

Salma was married off to her brother in law with in a short period. After some initial hiccups, my grandparents settled upon a new bride for my father. They were married and I was born a year later.

If I asked my father, what his feelings were , when he heard the news about Salma being married to her brother in law, he would brush me off by saying that he does not remember.

“I must have been sad for some time. But I married your wonderful mother right?”  He would laugh looking at my mother to see her reaction.

But Salma aunty must have been devastated. Especially when my father had four lovely children, started a business in Chennai and grew from strength to strength. He traveled the world, always with my mother by his side and he was also a philanthropist who did so much for the betterment of our home town.

Salma aunty, married to an older man, had one son and  a middle class life. That was her Karma.

Who can go against God’s will?

Like I said, on the occasions that I met Salma aunty, I made an effort to be nice to her.

On these encounters, she would hug me, and plant a kiss on my forehead and say those words which I in my childish way, found funny.

What Salma aunty said to me, was a reflection of her deeply buried feelings of many years, a longing for what could have been. If only …!

What did she say laughingly to me, every time we met?

She said, “You should have been born from my womb. No ma?”

Only, being not so smart, she said ‘stomach’ instead of womb.

“You should have been born from my stomach. No ma?”

Now that I am older and wiser, I think that those are some of saddest words a woman could ever say.

photo courtesy- sir5life0 , Alexandra Haynak and Murthy SN from Pixabay.

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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

Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich at


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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

OpenClipart-Vectore from Pixabay

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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Posted in Indian Newly Married, The Newly Married Indian, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments