A Candle in the Dark

Sometimes I think there is nothing sadder than watching a brightly burning flame snuff out by a sudden breeze. The feeling of sorrow arises not only because of the suddenness of the end but also because of the lost opportunity to burn brightly in the darkness. I knew one such flame and his name was Ashok*. Many people come and go throughout our lives, leaving a little bit of themselves in our memories. Some hardly affect us at all, their memory fading with time and ultimately dying out into a vague remembrance; others transform our very existence, so much so that we owe them our very habits and beliefs. Ashok was that rare breed who fell in the latter category and this is the story of one such flame that shone brightly amidst the falling darkness. Continue reading


Fall of Dandelions

The clear blue sky was the perfect canvas for the early morning painting. Soft white clouds lazed across this vast ocean in the heavens, their journey gently heeded by the whispers of wind, while a pair of shining brown eyes watched them. Laxmi gazed at those gentle giants, hoping to catch a glimpse of a cat or a cow or even a familiar face. Her grandfather had taught her to look closely at the clouds and search for hidden treasures, and so that morning she was on her back lying on the wicker cot and squinting her eyes, peering intensely at each passing wisp of cloud. Laxmi had always been fascinated with them. Ever since her grandfather had shown her the giant white pig and the pale small mouse, her thirteen year old self had become enchanted with those floating pictures in the sky.

I will catch them one day she used to think, Continue reading


The dry leaves dotted the brown earth in patches of red and gold. The sky mirrored this image on earth with vivid hues of magenta and ochre. The setting sun cast long ominous shadows of the surrounding trees and many of the fallen leaves lay in darkness. A thin wind whistled among them and carried a few beyond the ancient roots of the oak and into the failing light of the day. This breeze ruffled his robe as he walked from the edge of the forest towards the giant oak in the middle of the glade. An old beaten path had lead him from the zipway through the forest to this glade. He remembered little of the journey through the woods, save Continue reading


“Kill me. Stab my heart with your knife and let me be spared of this life.”

I stood rooted in shock and terror. He advanced towards me with a manic look in his blood shot eyes. His shirt was perfectly tucked and pants perfectly creased and not one strand out of place in his perfectly groomed head. Yet, his eyes chilled my heart and those Continue reading


I had this insane notion that men don’t cry. I used to think that tears were for the ladies, the weak and from the occasional onion. Sure, a tear or two might spring up from your eyes if you were kicked in the gonads but those were involuntary tears. You had no control over them and hence it was considered acceptable, as long they did not turn into a downpour. I remember the times I had shaken my head in the negative whenever some kid in class asked me if I had ever cried before. I remember the prickle of pride I used to feel at this so called achievement. If you could hold your nerve in the face of relentless shaming by the teacher, then you were considered a man. If you wanted to rise in Continue reading

Rottarpur Diaries

Episode 3: The Angel – A wretched detour

The pregnant clouds hovered over the congestion that was Rottarpur, threatening to unleash their fury on the city and wash away the filth and grime off its streets and buildings. But there was nothing that could rinse the bogged streets and bogged buildings of the festering population. Elsewhere in the State, the rains would have been welcomed with much jubilation or many curses, but here in Rottarpur it was part of the background, always Continue reading

A Beggarly Monologue

I have traveled to quite a few places over the years and in all my travels, I have met a wide variety of people. But very few of them have had any impact on my life and amongst those select few are the beggars who haunt the railway stations and bus stations. At these places, people embark on  different journeys that take them not only to new destinations but also new opportunities. Many of them would hardly throw a glance towards those begging hands, in their urgency to board. Others search in their pockets for loose change, irritated but at the same time wanting to be humane. I have belonged to both these categories during various points in time. Sometimes spurning them away and at other times, dropping a coin or two with a smile. And I have come to realize that although there is a method inherent in their begging, each has his or her own identity. So I decided to Continue reading