Under The Dogwood Tree



The rivulet gushed through the picturesque forest .It was spring in England .Sam looked around him, this was their favorite spot .The place was vibrant with colors .A carpet of bluebells under lush green tall trees, delicate wild flowers of hues that only God could paint with his magic brush, daffodils swaying with the gentle breeze. The flaming colors of rhododendron lit up the hill sides. Along the banks of the rivulet and under the trees narcissus filled the air with their intoxicating fragrance .A palette of red, pink, yellow and blue.

Sam waited for Dan to arrive .They had spent some of the most memorable evenings there .Sitting under the pink Dogwood tree whose gently arching branches leaned over to kiss the sparking water of the rivulet .He smiled as he remembered the most intimate moments Dan and he shared in that magical unspoiled beauty around them .The place was secluded and so there was no chance of any disturbance.

Distractedly Sam plucked a blade of grass and started nibbling it, a maelstrom of emotions and remembrances engulfed him.He watched the small pebbles roll into the cool waters in front of him. A leaf fell from a tree into the water, and was carried away by the swift current .Sam wondered where the rivulet will take the tiny leaf .Where its journey of life will culminate? Such is life, he thought.

Where we have come from and where the river of life will take us no one knew. We may glide gently down the current like this little leaf and during our journey we meet whirlpools and rocky shores, rapids and precipices, and many obstacles. His eyes followed the little leaf till it disappeared from his sight forever. So it is with man, he thought. One disappears from sight—Death takes him.

Dan had taken a day off to meet Sam .He wanted to set things fine before Sam left the country .They were a couple and had spent great times professionally as well as on personal front but things had gone out of his control lately. Sam was demanding more time and attention, he was not happy of their undercover relationship. While Dan was successful, handsome top level award winning journalist Sam was an upcoming photographer. A simple soul with great looks but a complex personality and responses that drove Dan up the wall.

Sam had started quarreling with him over the attention he paid to all the lovely girls who seem to gather around him like honey bees .He was sure Dan was sleeping with some of them and that made him furious. Dan was bisexual but kept his sexual preferences under wraps due to his Indian background and the position he held in his profession. This troubled Sam no ends .He wanted Dan all for himself .He wanted to be socially seen with him, accepted by the friends and colleagues.

They had talked about it for hours together but Dan was firm about his decision and Sammy could do nothing about it. There was a whirlpool of emotions inside the young man .They had been together for last ten years but the distance still remained.

Sam was getting less assignments now as he spent most of his time in pubs or trailing Dan to wherever he went, keeping an eye on all that he did .Dan was getting very irritated by this constant bickering and being followed all the time .The fights were increasing every day .Dan felt sorry for Sammy and tried to counsel him but to no effect .It made Sam more stubborn and furious .He started taking drugs and resembled a ghost on the sidewalk.

Dan knew Sammy was going to loose his job one day but could not do anything. He had fallen in love with a beautiful Italian girl and did not feel the same for Sammy the way he used to .Something had changed in him, though he still felt sorry for his lover.

Sam slowly receded from his life and Dan became more and more involved with his new found love and life .One fine day he met Sam at a party. He looked well. Their eyes met over hundreds of people laughing and chatting over drinks. Dan tried to look away, feeling uncomfortable and guilty but Sammy came towards him, smiling his beautiful smile .Dan felt something cut deep into his heart .The ache made his eyes moist. They shook hands like old friends and hugged.

Sammy told Dan that he was leaving the country and wanted one evening with him in the forest near the rivulet.

Dan remembered how enchanting the place looked in spring and quickly agreed to come that weekend.

Sam saw Dan walking down the path towards him. He got up and went to hug his friend .Dan felt a sudden rush inside him but managed to remain calm .He did not want to start it all over again.

The two men sat on the bank of the rivulet chatting about all the fun they used to have .It was like old times. And time stood still.

Sam had brought some of Dan’s favorite things to eat, complete with the cutlery, glasses and wine .They had a hearty meal together listening to the birds and taking in the breathtaking beauty that lay before them.

Sitting under the blooming pink Dogwood tree whose flowers as delicate in color as fine porcelain Dan looked around the swirls of lilac, gold, and white formed by bedded-out pansies which they has planted there together .

It was getting a little windy and late so Dan decided to say his last good bye.

For the last time the two lovers embraced.

Just as Dan turned to leave Sammy picked up the steak knife

It had been an hour since Sam had been hugging Dan’s body .His eyes swollen with crying .He kissed Dan’s forehead and ran his fingers though his rich black hair.

“Goodbye Danny I love you’’

After a seven day search for Danish, who had gone missing, the police found a decomposed body of a male in a fisherman’s cottage, with his wrists slit and a freshly dug shallow grave near the rivulet in the forest.

Near the grave on the Dogwood tree truck was etched:

DAN AND SAM

AT LAST

IN DEATH TOGETHER

Rapture


Rain, thunder and lightning, she could see it all from her bedroom window. It was a freezing December night. Unusually dark.

Stretched casually across the emptiness of the bed, she spread her delicate, bare arms on her sides. Her palms up. The luxurious raven black curls fell over her well rounded shoulders.

She closed her midnight dark eyes slowly. Her breasts rose and fell in tune with the rhythm of her heartbeats .She moved her shapely slender legs .The satin sheet beneath her, creased a little.

She lay stark naked on the king-size bed of her master bedroom. Her body aflame with hunger. The intoxicating aroma of the scented candles drifted in the air.

The lighting flashed through the stately glass windows, revealing the curves of her slightly tanned body. She resembled the Greek Goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture, Aphrodite, sculpted exquisitely in marble.

Flawless.

Suddenly she felt a warm touch upon her arm, sliding down slowly towards her palm. Warm strong fingers lightly slipped between her fingers. She felt a tender palm press against her palm. He unexpectedly pulled her close to his strong warm body. She could hear his heartbeat merging with her own.

She was thirsting for this meeting, her heart beat loud and passionate against his chest ……. it had been so long .She wrapped her arms around him and drew him closer .Their bodies pressed in a tight embrace. Her soft lips, full as ripe fruit, touched his forehead while his hands slid between them caressing and feeling her firm round breasts .A passionate kiss followed intense love making.

For the next couple of hours they lay engulfed by the raging fire of passion. Their bodies melted into each other. She was in the world of orgasmic fantasy.

None of them said anything. Their eyes never met and she didn’t realize when she fell asleep encircled in his arms. Inseparable.

The first rainbow hued sunshine filtered through the glistening glass.

The bed was empty. The satin sheet, crumpled and moist, had slid to one side of the bed.

Did he leave before the daybreak or was it all a dream?

She just did not want to know and didn’t care. She stretched herself, satiated and whole.

She gazed out at a glorious morning knowing that life was never going be the same again.

It was a warm December morning when she woke up alone in an empty room.

Tanka :short song


Tanka meaning a short song in Japanese .. A new thing I wanted to try .It is not a longer version of Haiku and I found it very difficult but then I love the challenges 🙂

An unrhymed Japanese poem consisting of five lines of 5/7/5/7/7 (5 kana in the first line, 7 kana in the second line, 5 kana in the third line, 7 kana in the fourth line, and 7 kana in the fifth line) totaling 31 kana.

Mostly the first three lines is one part, and the last two lines is the second part but i wanted to make it the way i liked .

Here is one  of the famous Tanka for all you poetry lovers :

Miki Rofu (1889-1964)

Furusato no
ono no kodachi ni
fue no ne no
urumu tsukiyo ya.

In her village
in a stand of trees by a field
a flute’s sound
blurs in the moonlit night.

and here are the ones I TRIED TO MAKE …  😉

1

On a path last night

I chanced upon a glowworm- warm,radiant

cuddled In  wet soft mud

an unending wait for a loved one

the glow getting brighter with the night

2

an eagle soaring high

sharp eyes in search of  the  pray

hunger filling it’s mind  body

my heart took a flight with it

hungry as the eagle

3.

raindrops on dry scattered leaves

each one  like a shiny little pearl

quivering -holding on to  life

one by one they drop to ground

My dreams,hopes,desires,breaths.

4.

a white canvas of snow

in the middle of the whiteness

a raven adds some color

black and white ,yin and yan

that is the balance of life

5.

your love like bush fire

a fiery display of heat ,sound, flames

consuming both you and me

mine-like a slowly burning log

glowing and keeping us warm for years

6.

like a statue

a kingfisher waits for a kill

ripples in still silent waters below

the kingfisher explodes into life

7.

far away on the horizon

behind the branches of leafless trees

burning crimson evening sky

resembles the  color of my face

between the fingers of your hands

8.

your smile like sickle moon

and kisses like soft ripe fruits

our life like a teardrop

in the eye of infinity- precariously hanging

the bubble ready to bust anytime

I do not know if I have been able to bring out the beauty of Tanka poems but I certainly enjoyed doing this exercise .would love the observations of all who read .


Hai ku -unusual verses


I always loved this form of poetry .few words , depth and endless thoughts after that .It has been sometime since I tried my hand on it .Nabina’s blog prompted me to do it again .Today I thought, let’s sprinkle some magic dust across the blog post ..so let me try and  create the beautiful world ,full of little bundles of unusual verses .

one

crows they fly in the sky
like pieces of black charred paper
drifting from a fire

two

The fog descends silently

over the trees ,parks,homes

watches and moves on

three

flowers rise to the sky

I lie on my back on  grass

kiss,dance ,play of colours n light

Four

soft fluffy cotton clouds

endless blue sky,bubbling stream

sunlight on ripples,rainbow dreams

five

you left

forgot to take with you

the warmth of your hug

six

waves rise and fall

bitter sweet symphony of life

an endless romance

seven

the warm sand of beach

hugging the entire cool blue ocean length

from one end to the other

eight

your coat in the closet

a single long hair

memories of yesteryear’s

nine

fleeting glimpse in the crowd

your eyes haunt me

from day into the night

ten

A shooting star

a wish come true

great expectations

Eleven

fireflies dance

on earth and sky

in your eyes and mine

twelve

creases on used shirt

I try to iron them out

they stay like past grievances

thirteen

A dewdrop hanging from flower

my tear on your eyelash

slides silently on my lips

fourteen

morning mist

a young leaf unfolds

your arms give the warmth

fifteen

the bell finally rings

your silence on the phone

deafening


November Rain


It rained all night .The trees ,the grass and the flowers,the roads and buildings all look rejuvenated .I love the winter rains.I do not know why .It brings with it… Love,memories that make you smile ,memories of some beautiful moments from the boulevard of past.

Though it is cold and windy , I am wrapped in an unusual warmth .With a cup of Jasmine tea I watch the birds clean their fluffy feathers with their beaks , perched on wet branches of the trees. .. pigeons cuddle close on numerous window sills.The clothes line has raindrops hanging from it like beautiful peals .The wind is strong today .The trees in the park are gently swaying , as if in a synchronised dance movement.There is mild wet sunshine .It is so romantic .Gosh what am I writing ..It was not supposed to turn out like this .              ..Stop ..

Yesterday we had an old reunion of friends in the evening ,it was long due and the weather was just perfect.So there were lots of hugs ,handshakes ,laughter and loads of fun ,over  excellent cocktails n drinks and  scrumptious food .We chatted about last 18 to 20 years that we spent together.It was such a pleasure.The kids loved it and had a blast ,with all the music and dancing .

Adi’s school finished today .He has already stated missing his friends especially his girlfriend :).School life is sometimes the best chapter of ones life .I understand how difficult it is at this stage to cope with so much that your life puts you through and I believe that this is the test of time ,it makes you take decisions that change the direction of your soul ,your being .

I remember the time when he joined the pre nursury..A cute little boy of two and half years.He loved his school and even when he went to the residential school in the hills ,he always made sure not to show the pain he must have been going through of being away from the family .I as a mother and his best friend knew what was in his heart but we both had no choice but to except to make the best of what was there.

The stay at Birla School brought out  the best in him.Maybe he got the right direction there.Since last one year that he has been with me I have seen him mature into a very sensitive  young boy.Suddenly my baby has grown into becoming my buddy .Now he is 17 and soon will be gone to some college and then another chapter of his life will start .He is an artist ,close to nature and perfectly in tune  with himself and nature around him.I am proud of my first born …How time flies ..

Adi’s  sketches

Adi's pencil sketch A pencil sketch by Adi

Do you know the relationship between two eyes..? they blink together,
they move together, they cry together, they see things together and they sleep together BUT THEY NEVER SEE EACH OTHER.. that’s what’s friendship.That’s what Love is ..sometimes .

The November rain has filled my heart with tiny droplets of such sweet little things ,of people whom I love and those who love me .

For a very special friend …with love …

Guess I am in love ..again??? ..I do not know …It seems like a cosmic connection ..something which is unexplainable ..I call it joining of heart strings ..Sometimes your heartstrings get attached with some other person who is part of your extended cosmic aura .You do not  have to know him/her .It just happens ..and then, if you are sensitive to it ,you come to know .It is an amazing feeling ,a bitter sweet symphony of life .

Why does one love ?Isn’t it strange to see only one person in the world ,to have one thought in mind ,one desire in the heart ?To have one name coming to your lips over n over again.As if it is part of your very being.To name which is in your and which you carelessly whisper endless times in a day .

You meet ,you love ,you are absorbed ,wrapped and bound to everything that person gives to you  .You live on that one person’s tenderness,his words ,his thoughts ,his love and care .nothing else matters .

Everything ,every moment that was spent together becomes a treasure.I ask myself what the hell is happening ..and I always get the same answer ..love as you have never done before.It is choice I made.

Infidelity  ?

No,I would not say that .

Love is an instant connection which you feel for someone and has nothing to do with relationships,morals,society or anything else for that matter .

A good friend who loves you for what you are is rare and I feel blessed to have found one .

It is said that A good husband may not be a good friend but a good friend will always be a good husband .

But sometimes we make a mistake in making our choice  …  and suffer a lifetime …..guess that’s life .

Sometimes we are left with a complex situation which has no answer .

Here I want to quote  something from the  Khalil Gibran ,Lebanese Writer, Painter & Sculptor.

On the Steps of the temple

By

Khalil Gibran


Yestereve, on the marble steps of the Temple, I saw a woman sitting
between two men. One side of her face was pale, the other was
blushing.

Marital Rape :Intimate betrayal ….The untold trauma


I had wanted to take up the issue of Marital rape for a long time now .The movie DAMAN by Kalpana Lajmi where Raveena Tondon plays the role of a marital rape victim, made me write about this heinous crime against women.

Violence against women within the family has become a major issue in our society.

Marriage is perceived as ‘socially sanctioned sex’. A legal right to a woman’s mind, body and soul.

I often see men commenting that they “allow “their wives to work, go out and engage in hobbies she likes or do certain other things and wonder who gave them the right to give permission? Do we lose our right as a human being to decide things for ourselves, the moment we get married, and become a slave to the man we choose as a partner for life and do only those things he ‘chooses” to “”allow” us to do.

Centuries of conditioning of male minds makes them believe that they have a right over women. Under the broad term of patriarchy women are treated as second class citizens at home, at work and as citizens in the society.

Domestic violence is itself a small part of the larger subjugation of women by men in society.

A woman is given to understand that her desires and dreams must henceforth be subject to those of her husband. Once married a woman feels guilty of denying her husband his conjugal rights. Under such conditions, many women find it difficult to talk about the physical violence that takes place under the guise of conjugal relations in the marriage. Any mention of rape or sex fills them with shame.

All over the world, steps have been taken to ensure that marital rape is regarded as an offence. In India, however, we do not even admit that marital rape is a reality, let alone a crime. Marital rape is an issue that has long been swept under the carpet. It is something no one wants to talk about.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, says, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, not being under 15 years of age is not rape.” Marital rape doesn’t even fall under domestic violence.

Quoting section 375

375. Rape.

A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions: –

First: – Against her will.

Secondly: -without her consent.

Thirdly: – With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly: -With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly: – With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

Sixthly: – With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Explanation: – Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offense of rape.

Exception: -Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

Our laws do not consider marital rape as a crime and only in cases of excessive physical abuse; a woman can file a case for cruelty. Domestic violence is prevalent in many forms in the society and for most of them there is a legal remedy except Marital rape.

There are so many loopholes in the law, about gender, age, caste and so on.

Rape with in marriage is not just the violation of sex; it’s related to a woman’s consent. Her autonomy and bodily integrity are at stake all the time. It’s the violation of self-determination and breach of trust. Marital rape betrays the fundamental basis of marital relationship.

It is an issue of denial of the human rights of women.

I feel that having sex with a person at one time does not “imply” consent to any future sexual acts but in our society a woman is subjected to all kind of sexual atrocities against her will. Not only are wives commonly viewed as the property of their husbands, but more specifically, they are seen as the sexual property of their husbands. Illicit sex, sex on demand, forced sex and sometimes brutal, humiliating sex is experienced by innumerable woman in a marriage.

Unfortunately not many women are aware of the fact that there is a thing called marital rape as they are discouraged to talk openly about sexual issues even within marriage.

And those who are aware do not show enough courage to stand up for their rights for various reasons, social or personal

Many of the marital rape victims end up with HIV and STD’s, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, physical mutations or wounds physical as well as psychological because they lack necessary courage to deny sex without contraception.

The impact of sexual assault lasts a lifetime and the victim suffers from Rape Trauma Syndrome. Feelings of betrayal, anger, guilt, humiliation, fear of intimacy, acute fear of being assaulted again and denial are some of the repercussions of marital rape.

In India, a societal change is needed as much as a legal one. Along with strict laws women need to be courageous enough to come out and report the crime against them, and then only the law can be enforced.

Women go through the most unimagined forms of abuse under the name of marriage. Once we accept this reality we may be able to take the first step towards protecting women.

Until then women will continue to be abused and raped by the one person they trusted most.

Also- Economic empowerment of women is a must because that will break their dependence on men at home.

There are many questions that need to be answered

Is the law a suitable and sufficient remedy for marital rape?

Will women want to have police people intervening?

Will the police give protection to a woman against her husband?

Can a woman walk into a police station and file a complaint against the man she’s married to?

Will at least the women police officers come to her help?

Is the society ready to tackle such an issue?

While a law will help as a deterrent and also in extreme cases, it is equally necessary to raise the consciousness of people, especially men, regarding the status of women.

We need to be aware of our rights; it’s not just the man’s prerogative to enjoy a physical relation. A woman too needs to be a willing participant and not just a provider; she should be able to state when the lines are crossed. Women themselves must break free of societal shackles and fight for justice.

I hope all the men who read this post will take that first step needed to give women the respect and dignity they deserve.

All the women will show courage to come out and fight for their self respect and take the first step of saying “NO”.

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The Verdict


She watched the mob with vacant dry eyes. Her legs and arms felt heavy .She had been tied up to the tree for more than five hours now .The remains of what were her clothes, hardly enough to cover her body.
She winced as a stone hit her forehead, unable to move .Blood tricked down her tear streaked cheek.
“The bitch” someone shouted from the mob.”Kill her, it will be a lesson for the rest of them “another voice came from behind.

Her first crime -being a woman

second – supposed infidelity

her silence- a sign of her guilt.

The entire village had aided her husband, a drunkard and a man of low reputation.

The tribunal which included her son, husband and father had declared her guilty of a crime she never committed.

The mob was getting hysterical .She stared blankly at her teenage son heading the mob, shouting names, calling people to make this an event that should be engraved in every woman’s heart .She glanced at the half circle in front of her .She shuddered as a flash of blinding pain shot through her head .slowly the mob began to become a blur. The blood began to flow down her body from the gash on her head and tricked down on the pile of stones and small bricks near her feet.

The evening sun slowly turned the sky crimson .The local police stood like mute spectator, rooted to the ground as the “mob justice “continued.

Her husband ,who was besides his son ,came up to the tree where she was tied .He pushed her chin up and looked into the intense eyes of his wife .he quickly pulled away and spat on her dead body .

“Justice is done “He shouted and started walking away.

.

Soumya’s marriage was arranged by her father .She was hardly sixteen and had protested against it, but was forced to end her childhood and go with a man whom she had never met .She detested it.

Life had been a roller coaster ride since then .From the day she set foot in Rajveer’s house her ordeals started .Not only he sexually ,emotionally abused her ,he drank gambled and visited prostitutes while he was away supplying goods in his truck. He was a shiftless man and often beat her up in bouts of rage.

Her father, whom she had supported all along by working at houses and earning money, had given up on her long back .He too like Rajveer was a sucker for money and did shady deals and small time peddling of drugs .

Soon she became a mother and with that added responsibility, had no time for own self. She led a lonely life, kept to herself and never raised any objections to her husband’s daily abuses .Mainly because she was too exhausted and knew that simple protest would lead to further damage to her body, soul and mind .In silence she suffered.

For the last twelve years Soumya had not been out of her so called home, except for her delivery or on some religious occasion.

The fair was making the villagers dizzy with joy. Her son told her stories of all the fun women were having, of colourful stalls, games and variety of latest fashion clothes.

Soumya’s heart ached as she listened to all this .It took her back to her own child hood when she too would eagerly wait for the village fair and spend a time of her life, doing all that she loved to do. She remembered the last time she went to the fair with her friends and how she had won her favorite silver purse, just before they left the fair .The purse she had proudly carried on her wedding day.

Rajveer was out of town and she decided to take the risk of stepping out of the house with her son.

Her son was overjoyed and so was she .They spent two days at the fair, living the happiest moments of their lives but somewhere inside her, a fear was rising.

She knew the coming days will bring her unimaginable pain ….but she had not expected what really happened after Rajveer returned.

Hell broke loose the moment he came to know the events of last few days .People added spice to the story and convinced him of her involvement with some man who had come with the fair.

The village grapevine took a wicked delight in making up stories and, they reached Rajveer’s ears faster than a forest fire.

His blood began to boil, the fire of revenge and anger began to consume him.

This time he wanted to do something that would make history .Mad with fury he bribed the local policemen, the sarpanch and the other important people of the village.

The silence of her otherwise violent husband petrified Saumya .She knew there was a storm in waiting .Every day she prayed for her life.

She noticed that the father and son spent many hours together, out of the house.

That her son eyed her with a look of contempt and avoided her at all times .Soumya knew something big was on its way .But what?

On that fateful day, she was alone at home; the men had not come home at night .The village panch sent a messenger to summon her at the chupal .There were serous charges against her.

Soumya quietly listened to all the accusation, false witnesses including her own son in mute silence.

The verdict was given .There was no other punishment for adultery, than death.

She was supposed to be stoned at a public place till death.

The Hunt


Dan loved the English summer .He loved the countryside, the river Thames, the meadows, footbridges, tall trees and the velvety green carpets at the banks ..

In the little spare time he found as a reputed award winning journalist, he loved to lie under some shady tree, watching the vast blue sky above .Sometimes he would spot a lone eagle soaring high, and track it, till it vanished from sight.

Today was one of days when he was free to do what he liked to do best. He had perched himself on a strong branch of an old tree besides the river and was watching the breathtaking beauty around him.

He loved trees and the vantage point they offered .He would sit there watching the life around him, with anyone really knowing about his existence.

The diary lay on his lap. He had read it many times .He closed his eyes, gentle breeze caressed his shoulder length hair.

He was successful, handsome, trendy and devoted to the social causes, he was fighting for.

Life was good and he was on a mission, his biggest assignment and something that would change the very course of his career as an investigating journalist.

He was unearthing the third most lucrative organized crime worldwide after drugs and arms trafficking.

Human Trafficking.

He had been trailing the trafficking routes, methods, Transportation, Profiles, Geographical areas, every thing that would help him in his project .He had been living in a suitcase since last one year and had hardly got a chance to find time for himself . The in depth face to face interviews, meeting people who could give him leads had taken a toll on him but he was happy and satisfied. The progress was unbelievable and the results very promising.

Today’s mail had got him an important link and he was all set to travel to his home land. He had not told his family there and intended to keep it as strictly business trip. He did not want any distractions.

His flight was tomorrow night and he wanted to relax before the long journey that lay ahead of him.

The sun was slowly slipping behind the trees and Dan decided to drive back home. There was packing to do among other things.

The plane landed on time and Dan went straight to the hotel his friend owned. He had little time at hand.

Krish told him about the night party and how he will get him to meet one of the men who could lead him to some big fish.

The party was at it’s peak ,when Dan entered .He was always a crowd puller and today he looked like a Greek God .He had best of his parent’s features .He smiled to himself ,noticing the whispers around him .He was used to all the attention .

Krish got him a drink and led him to a group of men sitting and smoking cigar at the far end. He won hearts easily .Over drinks, cigars and food, the discussion turned to women .He made his first kill by showing interest in Indian dusky beauties and how the west was drooling over them. There was much laughter, lewd jokes and an offer to meet some willing women.

Dan did not show much interest just to avoid attention .After the clock stuck four in the morning; he excused himself to his room.

An invitation was extended for the club house meet and he graciously accepted.

He was a rich Londoner, on vacation. He was all game for fun.

In a short while he made his mark in the party circle of Mumbai.

One evening Krish came to see him, beaming with excitement.

“We have hit the jackpot “he said, unable to hide his excitement.

“You have been invited to Mahmood Khan’s party at the beach house.”

“He is big and everyone knows he has contacts in the Middle East .He is The man behind most of the trafficking that takes place ,drugs ,women ,arms ,you name it but his record is clean so no one touches him .The old man is a sucker for money”.

“How old is he”? Dan asked

“Must be around seventy”. Krish winked. “He himself does not do anything apart from holding these lavish parties, his men do the deals .He makes clients here in these parties” Krish explained.

“How do you know him”? Dan was curious.

“Hospitality industry you know, we get to meet them all”.

“Be ready at ten sharp, he likes to see his guests on time”.

“Sure, buddy” Dan thanked his friend.

He knew Krish was putting himself in great danger by helping him and he appreciated his efforts.

Mehmood Khan turned out to be an old fellow with great charm and warmth. He had eyes of an eagle and nothing escaped his notice.

Dan knew he had to be very careful.

He enjoyed the party as the others and mentally kept a note of everything and every one and struck a chord with the old man, who seemed charmed by this hip young man.

The days were passing quickly and Dan had to return to work soon .He was getting impatient and wondering how to go about his investigation, when opportunity struck.

Mehmood Khan invited him for high tea to his mansion .Dan knew the time had come.

They met in the luxurious drawing hall of Mehmood’s massive house. They talked about various issues ranging from oil to stocks, Liquor and antiques which were incidentally Mehmood’s business.

Dan told him how he has to travel due to his work in the oil industry and that’s why never thought of having a wife or children.

“You look Asian to me “Mehmood said casually.

Dan laughed “I call myself a Global citizen, do not much believe in all that”.

Mehmood gave a soft side smile, his eyes still on Dan.

He was standing by the window, cleaning his pipe.

“You surely are a Muslim; I can see a taveez around your neck “He said.

Dan smiled and touched the locket around his neck.

“That’s a token from my mother .She gave it when I left home, it is not a taveez ,”.

“Interesting “remarked Mehmood looking at him closely.

Dan did not show any sign of discomfort, he was a great player at it and that’s what made him one of the best in his field.

“Have a look”, he offered, taking out the chain.

Mehmood took the thing from his hand and noticed a clasp .He released the clasp and the locket clicked opened revealing two photographs.

.

“My parents” Dan said with a smile.

For a second Dan though Mehmood was having a heart attack .He looked pale, his face chalk white and he stumbled but managed to grab the chair.

“Are you alright, sir, should I call for a doctor? He asked showing concern.

Mehmood had gathered himself by that time.

“No, I am fine .Am fine.” He mumbled.

Dan picked up the chain and the open locket from the ground where it had fallen.

I must take your leave .Take care and thank you for your hospitality “He said graciously.


The old man just nodded.

Danish knew he had found his man.

Mehmood had recognized his niece Rabia.

The Prize


Radha was very fond of accessories .She loved to collect all kinds of things that would go with her meager wardrobe .she would scan the old magazines ,watch the fashion trends on the T.V. ,see closely how the women accessorized their outfits, in the houses she worked and tried to find something similar for herself .

In the beginning of the month after collecting her salary, she would go to the local market and explore .The vendors knew her well by now and called after her, to check out some new stuff that had just arrived .Then the bargaining would begin .After endless debate, the vendors would reluctantly give her what she wanted in the price she quoted .She was good at it, and why not, she had to budget everything.

She worked from six in the morning till six in the evening at five different houses, to earn enough to keep the things going .However; she made it a point to keep a certain amount separately for herself.

One day one of the ‘aunties’ in whose house she worked, asked her if she could accompany her to the nearby mall for shopping .The only mall the small hill station had .It had just come up and all the big people went there .

Radha did not think twice before saying yes .She liked the lovely Dimple aunty .They went to the mall and as the lady shopped for her things Radha watched everything with great excitement .A whole new world had opened in front of her .She thought she was in a dreamland. She could not believe that people had that much money to buy such expensive stuff.

As she was scanning one of the show windows, something caught her attention .It was a scintillating silver color purse .She could not take her eyes off from that thing .Radha remembered some film star carrying a similar one in one of the programs she saw on the T.V.

She mustered up the courage to see the price tag ,which itself looked so expensive .The numbers on the tag made her head dizzy .Even if she saved all her salary ,all her life ,she could never think of buying that thing of beauty .The image stayed in her mind .

That evening Radha and her friends went to the local fair .It was one place everyone went to .It brought with it moments of relaxation, joy and fun .It was also a meeting place for many people. Radha was overjoyed .She went to all the stalls ,checked out the new stuff ,ate pani-puri and jalebi ,went on a ride on the merry-go-roundand played games .Something she loved to do .She always won something or the other but today the luck was not on her side .Apart from some trinkets she did not get much .

The day was drawing to a close and it was time to return home .The girls chatted happily and moved towards the main entrance .Just then Radha saw a game stall she had missed .She quickly counted her coins .Not enough for the ticket, she thought sadly .Something made her try her luck and dragging her complaining friends, she went to the stall .After much persuasion, the owner agreed to let her play once .It was closing time and he too was winding up. The business had not been so good.

Radha aimed her ring carefully. Which number should it be?

Two, she decided, as it was her birthday.

Taking an aim, she threw the ring at the far end of the table and squealed with joy as it hit its mar

She could not wait to see her prize .The shopkeeper looked irritated and kept muttering something .Then he went behind the curtain and came out with something wrapped in a newspaper.

Handing it to Radha he said, “You sure are a lucky girl “

.Radha could not hold her excitement; neither could her friends, who were jumping all around her.

Her eyes popped out at the sight of what she saw.

A silver color purse with an uncanny resemblance to the one she had seen in the mall that morning.

The Cottage -2


“Are you sure Raul that you want to live in that cottage?” Karan asked as they sipped hot frothy coffee at their old time regular hangout.

‘Yes, 100%”, Replied Raul. He had no second thoughts about it.

“When is your wife coming?”

“Tonight” he said as they paid the bill and walked out of the café into the long winding path.

It was cold and breezy; Raul pulled the zipper up to his neck and rubbed his hands to warm them a little.Not much had changed here, in this little town in the hills. They walked quietly till Karan’s home .Each one absorbed in his own thoughts.

Rabia was elated when Raul told her of his plans over the phone. She always wanted to go back to India. Since their marriage she had spent most of her time writing her thesis etc and then the pregnancy. He on the other hand traveled a lot due to his assignments.

She had met Raul in the university, the talented Indian boy whom everyone raved about .After a few meetings they had fallen in love and getting her father’s blessings was such one more reason to add to her happiness .They loved each other and complimented each other in every way .She a musician and he a painter.

As she lay swaying with the baby in the hammock under the large tree in their London home, she dreamed of the lovely hill cottage Raul had told her about.

Raul waved at his ravishing wife, as she walked passed the security check to meet him .He hugged her and kissed his year old son. He introduced her to Karan, with whom she had spoken many times on the phone.

They drove to their new home filled with mixed emotions.

Rabia fell in love with the place, the moment she saw it.

She loved the huge glass windows, beautiful gardens and the lovely terrace .She kissed and thanked Raul.

Karan watched the happy family and prayed for them silently.

Raul took Rabia on a tour of the cottage and the gardens and the more she spent time their, the more she loved it. Even little Danish squealed with joy as his parents took him around the gardens in his pram.

Many a times the family would go on nature trails near the cottage. Everything was just too perfect.

Time flew and Raul spent most of his time painting, sketching or strolling in the gardens .Many a time Rabia found him standing on the terrace or in the garden talking to him self or lost in rapt attention.

Danish had started school and was full of stories from there.

The date for exhibition was drawing near and Raul spent long hours painting. She glanced at the colourful canvases spread all over his work room.

Most of them were of the cottage and its surrounding areas and many more of a beautiful young woman with lovely expressive haunting eyes. Rabia looked at the woman closely, she seemed to hold her gaze and that disturbed her.

Danish needed a room to himself and on one evening Rabia asked Raul if they could decorate the terrace room for him, which was locked since they moved in .Raul’s reaction took Rabia by surprise .She had never seen him so disturbed by something .After a definite NO from her husband, who seemed to be acting very strange lately, Rabia decided to let go of the topic.

One afternoon, after putting Danish to sleep she was coming down from the stairs, when she heard some noises. Quietly she moved in the direction of the sound .It led her to the terrace room .The door was open.

She watched as her husband spoke to himself in that empty room .She glanced around .Toys closet, a bed for a child, sketches. The room seemed to have been unused for a very long time .Yet there was something that brought her husband there not once but many a times .She remembered Raul standing on the terrace laughing or muttering to himself on many occasions .Rabia almost let out a scream when she heard another voice there ,a voice of a woman .

“The time has come for me to leave Raul” the voice said. “You always asked me how I died so before leaving I thought I should tell you the story.”

“After my parents forcibly took me from here, we shifted to Delhi. I was never happy .I missed my home, my friend, whom they called a bad spirit, and you, though we never spoke to each other.”

“I was put in a hostel. After completing school I decided to take a trip back to this place and without the consent of my family, drove here .I wanted to get here as fast as I could, as if some force was pulling me and missed a turn due to thick fog and darkness .The car crashed into the rocks hundreds of feet into the valley .It was an instant death .they found my body after many days”.

My heart was here so my spirit followed it and here I have been since long. It was a joy to see you the other day, and when you moved in, it made my family complete, but now I need to go with my little friend here. Our time is done here.”

Rabia felt as if she was dreaming, it could not be true. Her husband was, all this time talking to a dead woman. Her head began to spin.

She held the railing of the stairs and quietly came down.

She did not ask Raul about anything, thinking how to solve this crisis.

Raul left in the morning with his painting, for the exhibition. He was going to be away for a few days and Rabia was scared .She called Karan.

He listned to her, with a grave expression on his face and said “Rabia I know about the spirit. We were kids when this girl stayed here .Raul and I used to wave at her from the road .I think he liked her and so did she but they never met .Then the family went off suddenly .This time when Raul came here he saw her again ,I thought he was imagining things but when he decided to buy the cottage ,it was clear something was not right ,but I was told to keep shut .I am sorry but now the pressure is off my head ,I guess you should get some help .”

“No”, Rabia said.” I will handle it but thanks anyways”.

That night, she took little Danish in that room; both mother and son spent some time there looking at the things playing with some toys.

Raul came back, with all his painting sold .She congratulated him and kissed him. He was happy to be back.

For some days he wandered around the place, as if looking for some thing or someone and then one night told Rabia that the terrace room could be used for Danish.

They cleaned it and, redecorated it, retaining some of the original stuff.

Danish was elated and loved his new room, the toys and the terrace.

That night, Rabia confided in Raul about all that she had seen and heard .Raul listened to his wife in amazement. He was surprised that she could handle the thing so courageously .He smiled at his wife and apologized for not including her in his secret. He felt it would disturb her and maybe they too will have to leave the cottage he loved so much .She understood .She loved him.

Raul no more spent his time talking to empty spaces and Rabia silently thanked the two spirits for leaving them.

Rabia took up music classes and life became stress free and happy again.

Danish was eight now, a bright little bundle of joy.

One evening Raul and Rabia sat in the garden when they heard a thumping sound from inside the house .They immediately left the tea and went in .The sound was coming from Danish’s room .Raul’s heart started to beat faster and Rabia was scared.

They found Danish hammering a nail into the wall.

“What are you doing Jan?” Raul asked him gently.

Danish turned and gave a dimpled toothy smile and held out a painting to his dad.

Raul and Rabia looked at each other .It was a picture of a young woman and a girl with golden floating hair.

“This is a parting gift from my friends .They said good bye to me and gifted this. Isn’t it lovely abba”?

“Yes it is”, both His parents said in unison.