Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spirited performance....concluding part

read part 1 part 2 

The next day, Shalini and Sriram went to banks together and began the completion of the formalities. Shalini found that Sriram was a great help and he kept her spirits high throughout the entire period. At the end of the week, all the jewelery had been removed from the bank lockers, the deposits were transferred to her account and the transfer of land documents to her name was complete. He later helped her sell off the land and most of the jewelery which she did not want.

"Sriram, I can never thank you enough, you not only helped me reconnect with di, you also have been a wonderful friend to me as well. How can I ever repay you?"

"There’s no need for that, Shalini, had I married Malu, you would have been my sister in law. Anything for you, my dear."

"Thank you again, but I must give you something...anything that I can do....."

"Malu wants to say something," he interrupted.

Then turning to the space next to Shalini, he listened.

"Malu wants to know when you are meeting Alok chachaji in Kanpur? He is supposed to transfer some property to you."

"Ah! chachaji..."then she turned to face the empty space herself. "di i'll leave for Kanpur tomorrow, I want to stay with them for some time.”

“Call me when you are back, my dear”


It was almost a month and Shalini had not called back. She was sitting on the front porch with a cup of coffee in her hands, eyes swollen and red, when she saw Sriram getting out of his car and walking towards her.

“Shalini, there you are…. I was so scared, why didn’t you call?”

“Oh, really..?”

“Ofcourse, and while you have been gone, I’ve been thinking about you the whole time. Malu was a support to both of us, and now that she’s gone, I wanted to…I mean, I realized, we could be each other’s support system.”

Dramatically getting down on one knee, he brought out a ring from his pocket,

“Will you marry me, Shalu”

 “Of course….but only in your dreams, you scheming b*****d.”

“How can you talk to me like this, Shalu, I really want you to marry me..”

“Hmm…so that you may ask me to transfer all my money to your account just like you asked di, isn’t it? And when I refuse, you can kill me too like you killed di?”

“What..? How did you..? What nonsense..! How can you say such things, you know how caring and helping I’ve been ever since Malu left us. In fact it was she who suggested that I ask you to…isn’t it Malu,”
He said turning to face the empty space next to him, eyes filled with pain.

“Shut up, you liar… and let my poor di rest in peace. I know there is no Malu di here and she never was.”

She pulled out a gun from her bag and pointed it at Sriram. “Why did you have to kill di?”

Suddenly the sympathy and pain in his voice was gone. In its place was a wide evil grin.

“Yes my love, you are right, there’s no Malu with us. I ensured that I sent her away on a one way ticket.”

And with that he burst into a deep throated laughter. There was almost a sinister ring to it.

Very deftly he picked up a cushion from the sofa and threw it on her face. As she tried to duck, he lunged forward and caught hold of her hand snatching her gun. The gun now pointed at her forehead.

“Poor baby, things like these don’t suit delicate hands like yours. Ha, no, let me correct that….inexperienced hands like yours” he sniggered.

With one hand holding both her wrists, he pulled her dupatta with the other and tied her down.

“Smart. Very smart…all these months you have been playing along with me, eh? All the while acting like a damsel in distress?”

“I realized your bluff the very same day, just before we met at shukravari talav. I had almost believed you, and the tale that you spun. Fortunately, since there was time, I started flipping through di’s picture album, reminiscing about old times, also wondering why she never told me about you. Suddenly I saw your photos. At Neeraj’s birthday party….”

“Neeraj’s birthday, yes…. “a smirk beginning to form on his face.

“There was a picture of di throwing a glass of lime juice on your face while you looked shocked and everyone else cheered. I was bewildered. I called up Neeraj and asked him about the incident. He told me how you had been following di around like a madman, pressurizing her to marry you. You knew she was earning very well, didn’t you? Di had refuted your advances and in spite of that you followed her to Neeraj’s birthday party that day. Neeraj told me how you had been trying to misbehave with her and how she had splashed your face with lemonade.”

“Someone actually took a picture of that? That’s clever…lucky it didn’t get splashed all over FB, or did it?”

“It will be, but all over the newspaper, you moron.”

“I realized she wanted to spare me the worry and also keep me protected from you.This got me all the more curious to find out why you were now meddling with me. I realized that you two were not on good terms with each other. I knew that you have been spinning tales about di coming back. So I playacted talking to di after you “left” knowing fully well, you would be just out there listening.”

“Ah, yes, I was indeed….or else how would I know about the property in Kanpur?”

“There is no property, and there is no chachaji, our father was a single child.” She smiled.
When you brought up the topic of going to Kanpur, I knew you had overheard me and you bluff was exposed.

You shot her didn’t you?”

“Oh….so you know that too?”

“I told you I am leaving for Kanpur, but I went to Lucknow instead.”

“You went to my house? How did you know…?”

“Did you forget that you gave me your visiting card when you first met me? When I reached your house there was no one there, just an old housekeeper. I told her I was your friend. She let me in and told me the family was away at a wedding and will be back the next day. That was my golden opportunity.”


“You mean, what did I find there? I found your room, and your cupboard, where you had hidden your gun and your blood stained clothes. I packed them off with me. I also found di’s diary that not only had her bank account details but also snippets of her relationship with me. So that explained how you knew the little details about us. But what I expect to find now is, why you did it. Why did you kill my sister?”

“The b***h was acting difficult to get. She was worth a fortune. I would be sitting on a virtual goldmine if I married her. All my financial difficulties would be over.”

“That is it? You killed her because she wouldn’t marry you? That is all a life is worth to you?”

“Oh don’t give me that emotional crap…”

“What did you get by killing her? Anyway you could never get her money after she was dead.”

“I know…I know….killing her first was a mistake. But once I did it, I figured I should get a fake marriage certificate and then get access to her account as her husband.”

“But you realized that I was the nominee in all her accounts….so you came to me with your story”

“Clever you…”

“The gift and the blink of the car headlights....That was you, isn’t it?”

“I had to make you believe your di, was back, right? How difficult is it to gain entry into your house with the duplicate keys that I found in your sister’s apartment?” and the headlight trick, Oh! I know that, she’s done that with me before, and I used her remote car key right under your nose when you were begging for a sign… how dumb can you be?

“You tried to act friendly and helpful, and ensured that I sold off the land and jewelery and every bit of money was safe in my account? And how did you think I was going to turn everything to you?”

 “Oh, that’s the easy part; I’ll show you how….”  He took a cheque book out of her purse and threw it on the table.” Sign these, my love and spare me the pain of having to shoot you too, or if you are very eager to meet your sister, I’ll bear the pain …with a heavy heart of course… .”

“Never, you leech…” and gathering all her strength she landed a hard kick on his groin.

He yelped with pain and fell down dropping the gun. She loosened the dupatta before he could get up and ran to grab the gun. He recovered and leapt towards the gun too and both tried to gain control over it. In the melee, the gun went off and Sriram fell down writhing in pain, the bullet piercing through his abdomen. He was about to catch hold of her legs, when they heard police sirens and heavy sounds of footsteps.

Suddenly there were policemen everywhere, and Sriram was now being accosted away.

“Are you ok Shalini?”

“Neeraj…. thank god you are here.”

“Shalini, the fingerprints on the gun matched Sriram’s and blood from his clothes match Malu’s. Do you realise how incredibly brave you have been to do this.”

She was in a daze, quite shaken and not appearing to listen to him.

He sat her down.” Relax, sweetheart, I’ll get you some water.”

Shalini slumped down, hands trembling and lips quivering with the thought that she could just have shot dead her sister’s killer. She felt nauseated and suffocated. She slowly got up again and walked to the window to get some fresh air.


Startled, she looked down at her garage, tears streaming down her face.


From Malu’s di’s car...

Flickering twice….

Like she always did…..

"Soak no more in your own tears....for you know not what power they possess..." 

Malu di's favorite song playing in the background.

                                                                 the end

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spirited performance...part 2

Read part 1 here

Shalini had arrived a little before 5, and fidgeted around nervously, before she spotted Sriram.

"Oh there you are" he waved his hand.

"Hi..." she waved back, but realized he wasn't acknowledging her presence. He was looking at the empty bench next to where she was standing and smiling. Was di sitting here?

"Hi Shalini. Let's get some coffee?"

"Sriram, Cut the niceties... All I want to know is, how do you know that di is here. Why is she back? Why has she chosen to talk to me through you.. and not to me directly? If you can see her, why can't I?'

"Slow down, my dear, one question at a time. Let’s sit down first....you’ll have to move a little….," he moved her further across the bench,"... unless you want to sit on your sister's lap." he smiled at the empty space again.

 More smiles...and nodding...

"Malu says you always sat on her lap when you were young."

Shalini looked at the empty space and tried to smile.

"Tell me please, it's killing me, I need to know my answers.Why didn’t she talk to me directly?"

“She says she had tried to talk to you but you didn't seem to respond to her”

“Why you then?”

“I was sitting alone on toad's rock…the one near the blue lily pond. That must be three days after she had passed away. That was “our” spot. We often spent time looking at the blue lilies and chatting to our heart's content. That day I was mourning her death crying my heart out, when I heard her whisper my name softly. I thought I was hallucinating, but when I turned around, it was her!

 I was so happy; I couldn't believe she was back! But when I tried to give her a hug, I couldn't touch her. I was scared at first, but she calmed me down." Sriram had a faraway look in his eyes as if the events of that day were unfolding themselves before him.

“But why has she come back?” Shalini interrupted.

"Malu has some unfinished business. She died before her time was up. Wonder who could have the heart to kill such a pretty young lady who could herself never harm an ant? But she wanted to tell you something important.”

"What unfinished business are you talking about?

Sriram looked at the empty space again as if listening to Malu and then at Shalini,

"She says she has some deposits in various banks, some jewellery and land documents in the bank lockers. She wants you to have all that“.

Then he looked at ‘Malu' again.

“She says, you are the nominee for all her accounts, so you won't have a problem accessing those. You didn't know about the whereabouts of these accounts so she wants me to help you with it."

"Sorry and thank you, Sriram."

"What's that for?"

"I didn't trust you at first. But thanks for your help and concern. You must be very special to di, for her to have chosen you over anyone else for this."

"We had planned to marry." he said as a matter-of-fact all the while looking lovingly at the space next to him.

"Oh, I didn't know that Sriram, I am sorry, you must be feeling so devastated."

"You bet I am.” he said looking downcast. "I must leave now, I'll meet you at Srilakshmi bank tomorrow at 10. We have 4 banks to visit. Don't forget to bring Malu's original death certificate and your id card for easy identification. Rest of the formalities, we'll complete at the bank."

"Sriram, I want to talk to di, can you tell her to sit here for some more time."

"Sure" then he looked at the empty space again and nodded.

"She will be here. See you both tomorrow."

Shalini spoke alone for a very long time, speaking about their good times together, the bad times, the loss of their parents, the moments of fun and some secrets that only the two of them shared. She spoke, smiled, and cried, all the while begging her sister to make herself visible to her.

"Di do you remember, Alok chachaji had an ancestral home in Kanpur? He wants to transfer that to my name, since he has no children of his own. He told me he wanted it to be a wedding gift to you, but...." she choked again.

It was almost 8 when she realized she was all alone in the park. Slowly she got up to leave.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spirited performance..part 1

"Hello Miss.Shalini .."

Shalini turned around to see who was calling out to her. She paused the i-pod that was playing "Soak no more in your own tears....for you know not what power they possess..." 

That was Malu di's favorite song playing .

"Yes Ma’m, I am talking to you."

"Do you know me?" she asked the stranger, who looked a little wierd to her in his tweed jacket and cowboy hat. 'Who wears a jacket on a hot day like this," she wondered.

"No Ma’m, not really, but I knew your sister, Malini."

'Malu di?' Tears clouded her eyes, hearing her sister's name. "How did you know her?"

"We were the closest of friends. I am as devastated by her passing away as you are." he seemed to wipe away a tear from his eye.

"Really? But di never told me about you."

"Oh, she might have mentioned me, Sriram..." he extended his hand for a shake. "...do i sound familiar?"

"Sriram..." she tried to recall if she had ever heard about him before. It did not ring a bell. She extended her hand, "Hello, anyways, nice to know you knew di. Any reason you are seeing me now?" she asked.

"Its Malini."

"What about her?"

"She's here right now" he said smiling at the space next to him.

Shalini looked at him and then at the space next to him with a look of disbelief, then suddenly angry she screamed at him," If this is a joke, it’s a bad time for it, mister. Who do you think you are to play around with people’s emotions like this? Jerk…." And she started to walk away.

"Shalini, Malu says ‘happy birthday’ to you. She says she has kept a gift for you in your bedside drawer..." he looked at the space next to him and nodded, "She's says it’s wrapped in a red wrapping paper."

Shalini walked away without saying a word, tears streaming down her face.

Sriram, blocked her path and handed her a visiting card," In case you want to talk to me later."


Back home, Shalini pulled the bedside drawer open, her hands trembling and little beads of sweat starting to form on her forehead.

There it was, exactly as Sriram had said. She tore open the red wrapping, and stared at the beautiful kundan necklace set in green and white stones. It was di's necklace, and her favorite. She had always wanted to wear it and di had teased her, "Not till I am alive, Barbie doll, you can have it after I die."

She broke down into an uncontrollable fit of tears, clutching the necklace close to her bosom.

"Di, are you really around? Give me some sign di.." she sobbed.

She walked to her window and felt the warm breeze sweep across her face. And then she saw the lights...the headlights of di's car, just went on and off…twice.

And then there was complete darkness. as if it never happened at all. That's how her di signaled to her when she came to pick her up, no honking of horns, just flicker of the headlights,..twice...

"Di, you are here, aren't you? Oh di, I miss you so much." 


Her eyes were still swollen from crying all night. Foggy eyed Shalini, picked up the card Sriram had given her, and looked at it. She wondered if she should call him. Yes, she had to, why had di come back? She had to know.

"....Sriram, Shalu here.." she spoke awkwardly.

"I knew you would call, Malu told me she gave you some signs yesterday.

"Can I meet you someplace?"

"Shukravari talav..at 5? Will that be ok?

"That will be good. I'll be there."

‘Why did di never tell me about Sriram before?’ she wondered.’ Let me see if I can find any pictures of di with Sriram.”  She opened her cupboard and took out two large albums that she had carried back from Malini’s place after her death. Pages and pages of photographs and memories….

read part 2 here.

Friday, August 10, 2012


decked up palki of Kanhaiyaji
" yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham 
paritranaya sadhunam 
vinashaya cha dushkritam
sambhavami yuge yuge "

-Srimad Bhagavad Gita

Through these verses of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna proclaims the meaning of his descent for the ascent of the spirit of man. God's incarnation is a perpetual act, an eternal occurrence. It is not merely a historical event that took place centuries back and is not taking place now. The words, 'Yuge yuge', imply every juncture of time. At a great juncture and critical moment and crisis, God manifests Himself to dissolve that crisis and conflict.Whenever there is discrepancies in the discharge of natural laws of God, then God incarnates. Either He incarnates Himself, or He sends His bona fide representative, or He sends His powerful representative.

Krishna on his "jhoola" or swing.
Krishna! The lotus eyed charmer, who will endear himself to you and melt your heart with one naughty smile. Celebrating his birth, his return to earth to bring back peace and harmony, is the festival of "Janamashtami."

Krishna, is beautiful in every form, be it as a son, as a lover, or as a guru. To me this festival not just signifies the birth of Krishna, but also the birth of hope. A hope that all that is not well, will be well soon. The birth of faith. A faith, that he will hold my hands when I need him the most. A renewed hope and a renewed faith, that gives me the courage to go on despite the odds.

To me this form of Krishna as a child, is more endearing as he brings out maternal instincts, that want me to hold him in my arms, sing him to sleep, nourish him. He can be playful and responsible, innocent and naughty, all at the same time. He can be so full of mischief one moment and teach you the principles of life the next moment. His one look will melt your heart and keep you in his captivity! Such is his magic!

A traditional rangoli
I welcomed him home last night with rangolis on my doorstep and in the puja room. Little footsteps signifying his walking into our home and heart.

And how can a welcome be complete without offerings?
Offerings made of "Poha" or puffed rice flakes/ beaten rice flakes are his favorites. I made sure to include a savory form of the poha with capsicum, carrot and peas, a sweet Poha with freshly grated coconut and jaggery , and poha with curd and seasonings.

 He is known as "maakhan chor" or the one who steals butter, so I included little cups of butter, curd and milk just to make him feel at home!

varieties of poha..and butter, curd and milk...

He is also known as "ladoo-gopal" , I had to treat him to an array of mouth-watering ladoos, that included, Rava ladoo( made of semolina, sugar, coconut and a dash of cardamom), groundnut and jaggery ladoo and besan ka ladoo(made of gram floor, sugar and lots of ghee!)


After all the sweetness, isn't it just right to add a plateful of savories,like the choicest of "chaklis" and south Indian "murukku, to cater to his palate?

The festive spread, fruits and flowers, the rangolis and songs all make for a beautiful welcome for the lord, who deserves nothing less.

His love is not confined to the pomp and splendour though. A simple offering of a "tulsi" leaf( Indian sacred basil) and handful of raw "poha" with a heart full of "Bhakti" (devotion) and love would make him equally happy!

Dahi Handi Festival in Mumbai Picture 1
dahi haandi (image courtesy : google)
In many parts of the country, especially in Mumbai, "Dahi-Haandi" is a popular event, with boys forming a pyramid, piling on top of each other and reach for the pot of curds hung high on a rope.

Dahi Handi though portrays the playful and adoringly mischievous attitude of Krishna, it also carries a profound philosophy behind it. The pot is the ego or the sense of the body mind identification that dangles in the grasp of Samsara ( the universe). The butter or Dahi which forms the content is embodied as the essence, or the being. The Lord breaks the pot or the ego to release the content from the binding Samsara. His eagerness to savour it reveals the bliss that one enjoys on realising the true essence or the true self.

Krishna, is joy, he is celebration, he is love, he is devotion, he is consciousness, he is perfection, he is spiritual energy, he is totality. And I know that when I surrender to him, he takes care of everything.

Jai Sri Krishna!

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