A Path Wednesday, Mar 21 2007 

Lost in trance, on a deserted path
My feet kept moving, which way? I knew not.
There were no crossroads, no twists or turns
Just a hypnotic stretch of tar, as far as eye can see.
There were no other passers-by, no bird no animal –
I was alone, at peace with my world and theirs.
The trees stood around me in a bare-armed embrace,
Autumn had wreaked havoc, and Spring was still far away.
Those brown leaves crumpled under my feet,
Like memories of yore, trampled by tomorrow’s worries.
I walked and I walked, my feet never hurt one bit!
I stopped to say hello to the little wild flower behind the rock,
I nodded a ‘goodday’ to the golden bee on the next!
I lost track of how far I’d come, how far I’d strayed
There was an unending path, behind and ahead.

Shortly, I came upon a milestone, a muddy stump of wood
That showed a meaningless number to nowhere.
Was that my destination? Is that how far I’m supposed to go?
Who would tell me that? How would I know?
I looked at the way I’d come and
Found it no different than the way I was to go!
Then how did the number on the milestone matter, I wondered.
To my left was barren land, littered by rocks and bush
Lay a corn field to my right, lush with golden crop.
There would be a village there not far away, and
There would be a farmer who would surely cross my way
He could tell me where I could go, he could give me bread and water too.

But I was not tired, my feet were still raring to go and
I was curious where the bleak landscape would lead to.
So off I went to my left, towards the wild unknown
I tripped on the rocks, and slipped on the sand but
My feet never wavered, my mind never in doubt
I walked on where a path never existed.
I reached a summit, where the land became rougher
Tougher journeys lay ahead, but without the milestones.

I paused and looked back, to see the way I’d come
And my heart was filled with immense joy –
For now, a path I could see, the path I’d trodden by.

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A Fairy Tale Wednesday, Mar 14 2007 

Gita looked at herself in the mirror. Her mother’s old kancheevaram was not so bad after all. She tucked a loose end inside and put a safety pin for good measure. She didn’t look ravishing, she knew; but this was enough given the circumstances. It wouldn’t matter to him how she was dressed, it wouldn’t even matter how she looked. All that mattered was she will always be his sweetheart. The image in the mirror blushed at the word ‘sweetheart’.

But then, was it really as simple as that? They had last seen each other 15 years back – when she was still in pigtails and he was the naughty kid who always smelt of mud. They had exchanged garlands made of wild flowers beside the motor pump in the mango grove. The last time she saw him, they were both crying. And he was waving from the back seat of their white Ambassador. She was left waving back at him till the car disappeared around the corner of the street.

She shook herself out of the reverie and adjusted her saree one last time. Then she ran out into the next room to help Janani get ready. The bridal make-up was done and they were tying the saree for her. Gita stood around and helped with the pins (they were everywhere!) and the clips. Just then, she heard the sound of a car outside. She quickly glanced out the window and her heart skipped a beat. It was him. Or was it Adonis?

Gita did all she could to stop herself from running out and hurling herself at him, hugging him like there was no tomorrow. She heard them come inside, her aunt was offering them drinks keeping up a casual banter. And then, a voice –

“Nenu bagunnanu, Pinni. Pellikoothuru edhi?” (“I’m doin’ good, Auntie. Where’s the bride, by the way?’ )

It was definitely him. Gita felt tears rush into her eyes. He was finally here, at home. Where she can see him. Where she can tell him how long she had waited.

There was a knock on the door and Anu ran up and opened it. And there he was!

Gita saw his eyes scan the room, and finally settle on her. She felt her ears grow hot under his gaze. She self-consciously pulled a stray strand of hair behind her ear and acted like she didn’t notice him. Does this mean he remembers? Would he know that I remember?

‘Gita! Alaage nilchunte ela! Aa chair itivvave, thanu koorchoni!’ (‘Gita! Don’t just stand there. Get him a chair’)

‘It’s ok, Chinni. Chair odhdhu.’ (‘It’s ok, Chinni. I dont need a chair’)

He felt 7 pairs of eyes on him. He didn’t notice that one pair was filled with tears.

A small voice said, ‘Chinni evaru?’ (‘Who’s Chinni?)

He burst out laughing. He realized he had used that name aloud. The name only two people in the room knew about.

And she knew that he remembered.

Author’s Note: This piece of fiction is the result of watching too many Telugu movies! If I made a movie out of this (horror of horrors!), it’ll star Nagarjuna and that girl from the movie ‘Gitanjali’ – you know the one who dies of cancer finally? No two guesses from where the heroine gets her name. And is it just me or did the part about Adonis make you laugh too? That’s pretty corny, but I’m gonna let it stay. For comic relief.

A monologue Friday, Mar 2 2007 

Right. The phone’s off the hook, the door is locked and the curtains drawn. I have my coffee (hot creamy with a hint of cinnamon, just the way I like it) and the laptop’s fully charged so I’m not tied down to the table. So, now what? Start writing! My magnum opus, the biggest and bestest piece of fiction the world ever read! Only, what the heck do I write about?

Maybe I should write about my childhood. But, what’s the big deal in that? I wasn’t born and brought up in USA anycase – I don’t know what prom is and I most definitely did not think about boys as I was too caught up with my science project and grades. Even if I let my imagination run amock and make up all this, it’s anyway taken by Kaavya Vishwanathan and I’m not exactly a fan of chic-lit novels. Idea number one, rejected.

Wait a minute! I can write about my college life! On how I was a day scholar and spent all of 30 minutes on a bus ride from home to college everyday, surrounded by the most boring set of people ever. On how I was studiousness-incarnate and never took part in any cultural activities and/or the uncultured ragging activities. On how utterly boring the whole thing was. Do boring incidents make a good novel? Well, they might, only if you’re Arthur Hailley and you wrote ‘Wheels’. Idea number two, rejected.

Hmmph. What shall I write about? Hey, how about my ancestral village? You know, with those green paddy and sugarcane fields, the huge jackfruit tree with a pump-set nearby! Ok, sounds good, but what about the plot? I only know of one incident where a poor guy fell into the un-used well and died of methane poisoning. Maybe I can make up a ghost story? About the girl who hung herself from the ceiling fan and how her spirit still wanders around after 12 at night? But that is so old! And pretty lame. I mean, that lady in a white saree is not even scary anymore – even with the red eyeballs and ghostly voice. Forget it, it’s no use. Idea number three, rejected.

Now, what else do I have? A story of espionage and betrayal? A la Robert Ludlum! Brilliant! But hey, forgot one thing. You’ve never set foot out of your home state in your home country and to write about espionage, there has to be at least one other foreign country! Damn! I should’ve travelled more, as in to places other than grandma’s village. You think you can imagine the whole thing anyway? Like Kafka did with Amerika? Heh heh. I can’t believe I just compared myself with Kafka. What the heck! Idea number four, rejected.

Oh great, the coffee’s cold and I haven’t typed even one line. Other than the Sriramajayam that is.

Goddd!! One bolt of creative thunder is all I ask for! Hear my prayers, O Lord!

Hmm, this room feels strangely cosy. Maybe I’ll get more creative if I lie down on the sofa and type. A comfortable body means a comfortable mind. And a comfortable mind is fertile soil for creative thoughts. Oh my god, that was so profound! I better make note of this. Who knows, my heroine could always use a few profound sayings once in a while.

Well well well, this sofa is pretty comfortable. A pillow would help, though.

There! Now, let me get back to the story. What other ideas would make a good book? You know, you should have read Kiran Desai’s ‘Inheritance of Loss’ fully, maybe that would inspire you. No! For the umpteenth time, I don’t want to write a book inspired by another book. It’s pretty close to being called plagiarism and I’m not yet that desperate. No more reading books. The next book I read will be my own. That’s that.

Yeah right. I’m never gonna read another book in this lifetime then.

No no, I shouldn’t let such discouraging thoughts come into my mind. I can do it. I know I can. It’s just a book. I write well, I’m witty enough, I just need a good idea. That’s all I need – one good idea.

Maybe I should keep the laptop down and think about the idea. It’ll be difficult to type lying down anyway.

Good. Now I can think comfortably. You know, maybe I should close my eyes too. To not let the world distract me. Didn’t I read somewhere that the eyes are the first source of distraction and that’s why people close their eyes during meditation and all that? But what if you end up sleeping? Well, if one feels sleepy one just has to sleep. No two ways about it.

What do I write about?

What do I…