A Tiny Blog in the Universe

When I started this blog in October’12, I had no goal in mind. I just wanted to share my likes and dislikes with people out there. After two years of moderate blogging, my blog is still not in the league of popular blogs with millions of page-views per week, and it didn’t manage to get any mention in the press either :D. It still is like a tiny star sitting between countless others in a black sky. And that is what it was meant to be – a small outlet for my stray thoughts. But then why not maintain a personal diary, why write a blog?

You already know my passion for reading and writing. And for the past one year I have actively maintained a personal journal – a spiral notebook – which I write almost daily. Most of the entries from the journal don’t make it to this blog, because they are either too personal or boring. Bits I feel have some value for you only reach here.

Journal
my idea smithy

Before I hit the publish button, the last question I ask myself is: what value am I offering to the readers of the post. In some of the posts I’ve tried to amuse you, in some I’ve tried to share what life has taught me, while in others I’ve simply let out the frustrations of the daily life. Some you’ve liked, some you’ve plainly ignored, but nonetheless you’ve kept coming to this blog.

My target this year is to write consistently; write things you find useful, things you could relate to. Through my efforts if I’m able to comfort you, cajole you, or influence your life in someways, I shall consider this tiny blog a success.

Ghosts by the Lonely Road

As I alighted from the bus, the chill of the night punched hard on my face. I pressed the button on my Chinese watch and 3:30 am flashed in a fluorescent glow. It was dark everywhere; more so because someone had turned off the lights in the sky. I stood there contemplating where I should go.

Ghost Road

A tiny bulb, the only light, was trying hard to light up the shelter nearby. Shivering, I moved into the shed and found a street mongrel curled over a heap of garbage. The dog opened his left eye, glanced at me, and sensing no threat carried on with his sleep for the night. I had two options then: wait for the first bus in the morning, or walk the five kilometres to my village. I found it convenient to walk those five kilometres of dark than to sit there and have canines struck all over my body.

I took the road by the left bank of the river. It was barely visible. And it twisted through gloomy trees looming on the left side and frightening undergrowth on the right. This was not my first time through it, but I had never covered it by night. The lights from the houses on the opposite bank made patterns on the calm water of the river and a grey mist drifted over it. Those reflections of the lights were my guide for the night.

Suddenly it dawned upon me how many cremations would have taken place by the river bank, for cremation ground is what it was. All the haunting stories of Dancing Pisachas, Twisted-feet Chudails, and the Aatmas crying by the cremation grounds took hold of my mind. I decided not to look at the river, as it had suddenly turned ugly from beautiful, and rather focus on the road ahead. The night was mostly silent except for the sound of the wind now and then. With the rucksack on my back and hands in the woollen jacket, I covered my head with the hood to protect my ears from those screams of Bhoot & Pisachas which were slowly building up in my head. Inside the jacket, I could feel my heart racing like a leopard.

I walked silently, making no clatter of my footsteps so as not to bother the evil things sleeping about. As I trudged the curves of the mountain road, I had a feeling that something was following me. But my courage failed me to look back. In the dark it could be anything – a white cladded woman with untidy hairs, or an ugly-faced man slurping at the extra pounds on me. The only courage I could muster was to stop for a moment and see if the thing strikes me from behind; but as I stopped so did the thing following me.

The silence of the night was terrifying me. So many wicked thoughts crossed my mind. And I could do nothing but walk faster and faster. Tiny droplets of sweat made through majority of the pores of my body, and the winter ceased to exist. I started chanting all the Mantras I could remember without caring for their meaning. I asked God for forgiveness of my sins, intentional or unintentional. As I increased pace, the evil thing increased too, as if it was set hard one me.

I had no idea when the road by the cremation grounds got over and I was soon crossing the bridge to the other side of the river. As I walked the length of the bridge, the light from the temple compound reached me through the mist. My heart rejoiced and my body regained its lost strength. I stopped, turned back, but nothing was visible except the white fog. Was the evil just a fancy of my mind?

I entered the temple and thanked almighty for protecting me. Having exhausted myself, I sat by the footsteps of the temple. The dawn had just started to break. The area, though covered mostly in fog, was glowing white. I looked at the bridge. Engulfed in the mist it seemed like a tongue of a white giant. And huffing across it came the mongrel I met at the rain shelter. A smile grew upon my face and I imagined that the dog must be the evil thing following me, or was he protecting me all the way, or…well what difference does it make?
If the night belongs to the evil, the morning sure must be of the divine. I took my backpack and walked happily towards home. Of course the mongrel followed me again.

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Just Wait Till You’ve Children of Your Own!

baby
I am so excited to share with you that last month I got blessed with a cute little baby girl. Yes, I am a father now! And through this post I would also like to convey to the kids in my neighbourhood that they are now free to address me as ‘Uncle’, I won’t mind it anymore…

*****

“Remember, you used to frown at me whenever we discussed who would clean the baby’s poop when we become parents,” she said with a smile.

“Ya, I know. I used to hate the thought of having to clean the poop,” I replied. “But now that our baby is here, I don’t feel any displeasure.”

“You are a nice dad.”

“Maybe, but I thought my baby would never poop, not in the pajamas at least.”

Hehehe! She laughed. “That was your usual boring Joke.”

Whatever!

As we talked through this, Ustad Bismillah Khan’s Raag ‘Raat Darbari’ started out loud in the background – the baby was up and crying. Our baby cries a little louder: just like the Ahuja loudspeaker in a marriage band. I don’t know what woke her this time, my joke or her mother’s laughing.

Our newborn will cry for three reasons: either she is hungry, or wet, or she has some problem. So being an optimist dad, the first thing I checked was: is the baby wet?
No, everything dry.

“Sweetie, I think she is hungry,” I told my wife.

“She is not hungry!” she replied. “She just had milk at 8:00 pm.”

“Come on! It is 9:30. See, how hard she is trying to suck her fist.”

I won the argument; wife took the baby, and everything was settled now.

The baby gulped milk like a hungry rabbit for half an hour and then she was asleep with the breast still in her mouth. Both of us took a sigh of relief. I prepared the bed for the baby. Everything was kept at an arm’s distance: five pair of pajamas, three diapers, wipes, squeeze toys, and the feed formula.

Wife put the baby to sleep, and I moved on to switch off the light. The room went dark and silent. As I stretched out on my bed, I realized my arms, neck, and the back were hurting. My eyes soon became heavy with sleep and before I could start snoring, there was a thundering noise. I jumped to put on the light. The baby was crying like never before. Her face was red, her arms and legs were up in the air as if she was trying to get up on her own, and her eyes were filled with tiny tears. She was crying with all she had – a sight no father could bear.

I checked her diaper, and this time it was wet and heavy. The baby got a new diaper, and now she was happy and cheerful – as if she just woke up after a sound sleep. I checked the time, it was 10:30. I took her into my lap to put her to sleep, but now the baby was fascinated by the tube light. I moved her to the left, then to the right, but each time she would turn her head to the tube light.

“Give her to me!” wife said.

“No, no! You go to sleep. I’ll take care of her…”

“Is she hungry?” she asked again.

“No….. I think she is bored of sleeping,” I replied. “You sleep, I’ll manage her.”

Now father and daughter were together. Father looking at the daughter if she had closed her eyes or not, and the daughter still fascinated with the tube light.
I kept rocking her, but the baby had no trace of sleep. It felt like eternity. Finally after few hours of rocking, she closed her eyes, passed a smile, and went to sleep like a cub…… I put her down, checked the time – it was 2:00 am – and dropped dead on the bed.

Startled by someone’s voice, I woke up in a hurry.

“Can you hold her for some time? She has been up since two hours. My arms are hurting,” my wife said.

I checked the watch, it was almost five in the morning. The last hours of the night are generally the toughest to manage.

“Ok girlie, come to daddy!” I took the baby on my lap.

“I’ve fed her twice, changed her diaper, and I’m completely exhausted….. Can I sleep?” wife asked.

“Sure! You sleep now….. I’ll look after her.”

Wife was snoring soon, and the baby was smiling at the tube light. Whereas her daddy’s head was wobbly and his back was hurting more……

*****

While the above ordeal has become a routine now, no feeling can replace the feeling of being a father of a daughter. Because a daughter sleeps best in her father’s lap, and for the father she is the cutest thing to look at.

Love in the Times of Rain

Rain

Who would believe this is May! It has been raining here since three days, and from throat-drying summer to the woolen caps the transition has been sudden.

It rains fiercely for few hours, then stops for an hour or two. In those hours of relief, everything appears clean and fresh. The leaves of the Poplar and Peepal shine like a gentle brush of oil has been applied on them. The birds go merry singing their favourite songs, and the stray cows move out of their temporary dens drenched in dung and waste. People – all covered in mufflers, sweaters and monkey caps – move quickly out of their houses to fetch groceries from the market.

For a not-so-summer-enthusiast like me, rains are always a good news. In fact, I may be the only person who loves the rains so much that I can bear them for days and days; longer the better. Rains are romantic, they make me want to fall in love with everything, and they tickle the creative side of me.

When I was a kid, I would deliberately sleep on the top floor of the house all alone to hear the sound of the rain drops falling on the slate roof. And the chocolate like smell of the soil when it is first met by the rain would make me jocular. When it would rain continuously for days, I would pick a shovel and go around the house and into the fields looking for small ponds. I would dig channels for the water, where my trousers would get wet and so would my hairs.

Sitting by the old wooden window of the room, I would watch the sun rays make a hole in the large sheet of clouds, and then there would be rainbows all around. Sometimes, a rainbow would be so close to the house, in the fields, that I would run to catch it. But as I reached near, it would jump on to some other field and mock at me.

In the winters the rains would be more unforgiving. Huge lumps of dark clouds carrying soft balls of snow would march through the sky and capture it. Again from the window of my room on the top floor I would watch the clouds eat the nearby mountains. For days and days the surroundings would be engulfed by the clouds, and there would be cold cold rain. The angry clouds would move and growl and then lightning would hit the mountain tops. The clouds behaved like some black magician angry at the mountains.

In the evening, my family would gather by the hearth in the kitchen. Stories of old times would be narrated with great vigour by my grandfather, whereas my grandmother would prepare hot Popcorn over the fire. We would talk, laugh, and eat through the early hours of the night, and then retreat to our rooms to be surprised in the morning.
Having lost their battle to the mountains, the clouds would have disappeared. But the remains of the long battle would be white, bright, and pearl-like mountains, appearing more beautiful than ever… And then… I would fall in love again…..

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