It’s a Chakras thing

 

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“It’s a Chakra thing,” she said, her calm and serene smile making her look like one of the Mother Mary statuettes placed in various niches of the Catholic school Mama had sent me to as a child.

Our own goddesses looked fierce and had “Don’t mess with me” written all over them.  I wish I had the spunk of the goddesses.  With great effort I brought myself to the present, but tears filled my eyes.  I seemed to weep all the time lately, even into the dough I’d knead for our meals.  The first born kept getting into fights.  The baby tried to wipe my tears away, and failing that, he would sing to me or cuddle.  Just the other day, he had wept with me, scared and confused.  I had to snap out of it, for ther sakes.  This guru was my only hope.  I had heard she was good, but it wasn’t working.  She had told me “I can only help you if you want to be helped.”

Damn her!

“We are all creatures of energy.  We need to find our connection to the primal force, and once we establish the connection, we will shine. We will possess inexhaustible energy.”

I blinked and cast a surreptitious glance at the others sitting cross-legged next to me in our class, trying to visualize them as shiny round bubbles of something bright and pulsating, may be light bulbs on electricity.  Nah!  Too far-fetched.

That fat auntyjee looked like Pillsbury doughboy.  The old fella looked like a  candle with a dull yellow flame, bent, weepy and spent.

Here I was, age 28, mother of two kids, single and jobless.  And I had sold the last gold chain I owned to pay for this very expensive meditation course.  I had to make it work, or else.

“There are seven energy centers in our body. We have to keep them clean, powerful and pure.  They correspond with the seven colours of the rainbow.  They respond to external stimuli like music, simple music, wood sound, string sound.”

“I’m tone deaf “ my mind declared, rebellious and angry.

She continued, “Simple music puts us in a state of harmony, of peace.  Then we can meditate on the colours.  We will start with Red, the colour of the root chakra, and slowly progress upwards to violet, the top of the head.  Breathe deeply, inhale …. Exhale”

My mind was fixated on the colour red …. The colour of a bride’s sari.  Was it because she was stepping into a bloody minefield?  Was it because she was being sacrificed that she was wrapped in the colour of blood?  It was as though a dam had burst, I wept silent gasping sobs.

Somewhere music played, the simple soothing notes of a santoor.

Muscles of my back, neck and shoulders relaxed, the red lightened up, turned into orange, and then faded into yellow, transformed into green, the heart chakra.  I felt love, boundless love, joy, a connectedness.  The universe and I.

I was not alone, I had never been alone, I could never be alone.

The santoor kept weaving its magic.

Blue – communication.  The truth.  If we are brave to hear it, we can be truly free.  Free to understand the wind, the rustle of the leaves, even the blade of grass has a story to tell.

Purple and then Violet

Joy.

I smiled after being in a funk for almost a year.

I was reborn.  My life had begun.

Written for Indiblogeshwari’s That Tuesday Thingy

 

 

 

Death’s Bitter Harvest

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DEATH’S BITTER HARVEST

What do you say to a man who lost his wife
His partner in trials tribulations and strife?
What do you say to his sons?
Their life hasn’t yet begun

I recall people I loved and lost
To death’s bitter harvest
His sons simply fidget and stare
At the man’s face lined with despair

They don’t know the ones I mourn
They don’t miss my brother
The gaping wound in my heart
So I get up and whisper

Time will heal
She is with God
Cancer has won
Her life is done

I turn away, anger hits me
I can’t voice my bitterness
But I know you hate these
Inane meaningless words

I know intimately the pain
I know and fathom the loss
I have lived and slept with them
You will learn to do so too

It’s mortality
Death’s bitter harvest

The book launch

The book launch was a grand affair.  Three books were being launched

1. In Pursuit of the Woman by Rajbir Gill

2. Kaashi by an American author, Terin Miller

and of course

3. Chakra, Chonicles of the Witch Way by moi, Ritu Lalit.

And Maharani Preneet Kaur, Minister of state for External Affairs, Government of India was to do the honours.  Oh it was grand.  And for once luck was on our side … the boys and I reached the venue for the book launch, Patiala Aviation Club before the royal highness did.  Phew!

We made it with fifteen minutes to spare!  Wow

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Among the planes

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Kunal and I, waiting for the Queen.

Preeti Singh, fellow author who made it to the function despite a fractured foot

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And then our chief guest, Maharani Preneet Kaur arrived, without any fanfare.  And I had an awkward moment.  Here I was all dressed up and stuff and the lady was simplicity and elegance personified.

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The Maharani is so “normal” … gracious and warm, I was floored. Hum dilli vaasi hain, here snobbery and political clout of far flung relatives also makes people obnoxious. This lady was gracious and approachable.

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Chakra was launched on Mother’s Day and who would be better to unwrap the book than my own son, a trained pilot, an author and blogger himself, and one of the two men I love to death, the other being his brother.

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And the chief guest departs …

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My thanks to Commander Rajbir Gill, his graceful daughter who emceed the programme and to each and every one who attended the function.

And of course, Kunal Marathe for the hectic backstage arrangements for the book launch.

And the beer and chicken party he hosted for us once we returned to the hotel, making us miss our train

But that is another story altogether 😛

For the entire story, follow these links

From Delhi to Chandigarh for the Book Launch of Chakra

Last moment preparations to get to the book launch of Chakra on time

The Witch Way, Chakra

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I always wanted to be a witch. Not the crone, with a long nose and warts on the face kind of witch. More like Snow White’s step mother, I think Julia Roberts did a nice job in Mirror Mirror.

I never ever wanted to be a damsel in distress. That was so beneath me! I did not want Phantom to leave his cave in Denkali or Mandrake his Xanadu to help me out of the messes I got myself into – oh so frequently. I simply wanted to create those messes, engineer them. And then clamber out of them, wipe my face and say Phew, that was fun!

Kind of like Luna Lovegood.

She can smile and spout completely obscure things that actually make sense.

Consider this, this is not Luna Lovegood’s statement but mine, and I am quite proud of it …

As far as I can tell, worrying about anything at all is a pretty good indicator that one has begun thinking that their joy and prosperity will somehow hinge on pending physical events, other people, or angry green Martians.

Can you imagine?!

Now before you ring up the Lunatic Asylum in Agra or wag a finger at me and say E.T., Phone home, pause and consider …

Does it make sense to look for joy in the future on some vague event that may or may not happen? Or worse still, think your joy depends on someone else?

Now who should phone home?

My book Chakra is about not one or two but three girls who may or may not be grey eyed, but one thing they definitely are, they are witches and a barrel load of trouble.  They follow the Yogi Path (a term they consider unkewl and so have re-named it The Witch Way).

I am in love with the cover – those eyes are mesmerizing.

Chakra

What do you think?

Leaving you all with a small couplet I used to bug folk with when I was a kid

Which Way did the witch go?
And which witch was it?

To She Who Must Not be Named

A poetic challenge to someone who is trying time and again to make me feel uncomfortable … I affectionately call her “She Who Must Not Be Named”

Feel free to guess who :

 

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Let us not beat around the bush

I did you wrong when I did you a favour

Instead of help I should’ve given you a push

Into the widest and deepest river

 

 

Some people do not like gratitude,

They think it is a canine emotion

Envy is more suited to their attitude

And now I’ve become your obsession

 

 

Oh you’re itching to pull me down

Somehow I make you feel inferior

But then, I am so important to you

On my defeat you’d build your career

 

 

I’m on to you, you silly clown

I’m on to every low down trick

Fighting you would slow me down

So I’d rather use my wit

 

 

Bring it on, girl, give it all you have

A fight has to be fought to the finish

Embarrassing photos, pointless bitching

Too pathetic, not worthy of the skirmish

 

Yes I am a fighter, combat is in my nature

And confrontation is my game

I hereby call you out for an open war

Sneaky tricks are boring, too tame

Confessions

Haters

Alright, I have to admit that this post is heavily inspired.

No, not the Anu Malik kind of “inspired” but nevertheless …

I recently joined a Facebook page called Confessions.  The premise is interesting.  You post whatever your gripe is anonymously and get it out of your system.  It raised a lot of red flags in my brain.

Red Flag 1 : Confessions

Red Flag 2 : Anonymous

 Sleaze Alert!  Whine Alert!  Backbiting and Slander galore!

ROFL!

Don’t ask me why I did that.  I guess I need a life, clingy eight year old kids, troublesome boyfriend, husband whatever …

A life time of bouncing from crisis to crisis does that to you.  You aren’t complete until your arse is on fire, your credit card maxed out and collection goons are laying a trap to repossess your car or home.  When you’ve lived a life like that, a life where your biggest problem is power outages in your colony is kind of humdrum isn’t it?

So this blog post is heavily inspired from Confessions.

No, I am not going to talk about the men in my life or any such thing.  Being mysterious is much more happening than a tell-all journal, which may be such a climb down from the lurid fantasies one invariably creates in the mind.

I am going to talk about what happens when bloggers turn authors.  Here are some confessions or observations based on personal experience and that of other blogger-authors.

Now we bloggers have a closed community.  We are expressive, opinionated and closet ledger keepers.  We keep a close watch on the number of hits our blog has got, how many people have commented on our post, and then we reciprocate by visiting their blogs and commenting.  Such reciprocity, such democracy. 

THOU SHALT ALL BE EQUAL

And then one blogger breaks ranks and writes a novel!

Gawarshhhh!

It infects the blogosphere!  Everyone has a novel inside him or her which is desperate to break out.  For me it was Preeti Shenoy’s 34 Bubblegums and Candies and Varsha Dixit’s Right Foot Wrong Shoe.

So I wrote the book that was desperate to break out from within me, A Bowlful of Butterflies.  It had a middling kind of response but that’s alright.  Everyone knows that one does not make money from novels, not unless one is Chetan Bhagat or Amish Tripathy.

I am sure there are others who got motivated by me.  Now we moved into another world.  From humble and equal bloggers we entered the highly competitive world of novelists.  By the way, the world of novel writers is replete with examples of cut throat competition, betrayal and intrigue.  No, not in the pages of the novels but in the real world.

You have this nice blogger friend, you visit his/her blog and comment.  He/She visits yours and comments.  It’s chugging along nicely.  Then suddenly she/he announces that he or she has a book deal by one of the biggies, Harper Collins or Penguin!  Now what do you do?

Feel outclassed?  Naah!

Send a shot and succinct “Congrats”

On an afterthought add a smiley  🙂

Bad mouth the publisher (not in print though).  Remember the novel that is desperate to break out from within you?  No, definitely not in print.

Turn up nose and say you do not read Indian authors in English.  Munshi Prem Chand was the last stalwart in desi literature.  Feel free to substitute Premchand with Tagore or any one else …

Resist urge to delete the blog link from your reader … we need to keep abreast with competition.

Once the book is out demand autographed free copies for your Bua, Naani and 30 assorted relatives.  (This is fellow author Nandita Bose’s solution.)

Tell everyone loudly and emphatically that you have a real job/business.  It’s easy to write a book, you just have too many responsibilities and can’t write one, yet.

Write a nice review of the book in your blog, say that it is nice, the story is wonderful, the premise original … but …

Munshi Prem Chand was better

OR

Dan Brown does better action

OR

Description is lacking/excessive/heavy

OR

Characters are unreal

Remember to just put one of these things.  You do not want to make an enemy.

Oh and then as a final twist to the knife

Mention the book’s price and ask whether it isn’t too much

Meanwhile – happy blogging 😀

Ten Shades of Life

A story for every genre …, the Ten shades of Life

A mood for every season …

I short article I wrote for Fablery about my experiences as a Judge

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In my experience most authors begin their careers writing short stories and blogs. I did that. It helps begin their writing careers and hone their craft. It helps in getting published and getting publishers to treat their full length manuscripts with respect. It definitely helps if the blog is well liked. The fact that I was a blogger with a following helped me. What also helped publishers take me seriously was because my short stories found place in CBSE text books.

 

When I was asked by Nethra to judge the short stories for Fablery, I agreed. The premise seemed interesting, a story for every genre. It brings variety to the table. Of course I was spared all the hard work. I was not the “weeder”, a job Nethra kept to herself. She weeded out all the below par and clichéd stories, sending me the cream. I just went through the finalists. Here again, I must say, Nethra did a great job. She mailed me the stories, without the names of the authors, in the interest of fairness. I must say here, that it did not bother me. I love stories and it was a job meant for a person like me.

Read the rest here …

The Princess of Nonsense

“Oh but she was a tiresome child, I did not mind that at all, but let’s face it dearie, she was huge!”

Sir Mouse cleaned his spectacles and peered at the princess who was fanning herself with a bunch of forget-me-nots.

“And she kept disappearing and leaving only a grin. D’ye know how creepy it is to just have a grin staring at you?” The princess shuddered delicately.

“Erm, I think you are mixing up Alice and the Cheshire Cat.”

She looked apologetically at her long suffering courtier and said, “Sorry Sir Mouse. I am a bit mixed up today. Ever since you told me about a man who leaped out of a bath tub and ran naked in the town yelling something, my nerves are shot.”

“That was Archemedis and he was yelling Eureka. He discovered some formula.”

“Humph, he shouldn’t have lost them in the first place. Careless bloke. He possibly lost his towel too. If you ever take a bath, please check if the water is right. The only reason to leap out of a bath is if the water is hot. Then, in my opinion, you should yell “watersshot watersshot” and not Eureka Eureka.”

Sir Mouse kept his opinion to himself and said “Yes your Majesty”

“Now Sir Mouse, you may go. I am bored with you and the school work. Send me my waiting ladies.”

Sir Mouse gathered his papers and left barely concealing his relief. The wizard had to be given a scold. Those forget-me-nots were not helping. The princess was getting more nonsensical by the minute!

The princess flung the bunch of flowers into the waste paper basket and stomped a petulant foot as she scolded her waiting ladies, “The satin dress is way to tight. I hate scarlet, it makes me look so pale. Go and call all cloth merchants. I need a dress done up in linen and gauze, yes it should be rose colored. I hate these dresses. Go, now!”

The poor women rushed out. She threw the offending dresses after them and slammed the door shut.

A man laughed as he came out from behind the curtains, “Excellently done my love.”

She sighed, smiled naughtily and said, “The things I have to do to just spend some time with you.”

The path of royal love is always devious

Deja Vu

Deja Vu

It was our honeymoon, I a naïve girl, newly introduced to the pleasures of sex, could not keep my hands off Navin, my husband for the past six days. He was strutting around like a proud peacock, my arm around his waist.

Mall Road, Simla

Life was perfect wasn’t it?

I stole a glance at his face, the angular lines of his cheek bones, the broad forehead topped by a mop of curly hair that I longed to run my fingers through. Yummy.

“What?” he asked, his voice laced with laughter.

“You look good enough to eat.”

“Should we go back to the hotel?” he asked, his eyes alit with desire.

“What’s the hurry?” I asked. I did not know much, but I knew this – a little bit of anticipation improves the outcome of passion. Ours was an arranged marriage, where parents decided on our spouses, and we found nothing wrong in it. He was seven years older, and I knew I needed someone older, more mature. I was just a silly girl … he would look after me.

Lost in each other, we walked exchanging sweet nothings. It started drizzling and we snuggled closer, ignoring it. It always rains in Simla, and we loved the rains. But it soon developed into a downpour. Somehow we took a wrong turn and got into the non-touristy area of the town. We looked around for a tea stall, a restaurant, anything to escape the downpour.

He looked pale, upset. I was silly enough to think that it was something to do with me. I withdrew slightly, noting the tension in his body, the restless fingers that ran through his hair, brushing the drenched hair, the nervous way he cleared his throat.

“I feel as though I know this place,” he muttered.

“Deja vu?” I teased, but got no answering smile.

We walked or rather, he led and I followed, he seemed to know where to go.

He stopped in front of a small cottage, no different from the others in the lane and whispered, “I think we can spend our time on this porch.”

It was a small wooden porch, nothing remarkably different from others we had crossed. Shivering, I followed him to the porch, staring at him as the world around me wept.

An old man opened the door, peered at us and asked, “Kaun Hai?” (Who is this?)

My husband looked at him and then as if compelled he brushed past the astonished home owner into the small living room.

An old woman was lying on the couch, she opened her eyes and tried to raise her head on her elbow. But she was sick and weakened.

“Tara,” he said in a hoarse voice, choked with emotion.

“Tara!”

Those eyes smiled slowly, possessively. “Vivek” she whispered softly.

And then they fluttered slightly and fell shut.

He turned and ran out, he fled without a backward glance. For that moment, I think he forgot me, he forgot himself, he even forgot that he had never been in India ever … in this life.

I did not stop either. Scared out of my tiny sheltered mind, I ran after him. My eyes wept and the rain water washed away the tears

Fever

“You have fever” he said it calmly, a statement of fact.

Do I?

I thought that meditation heals us by boosting the immune system.  I pick up the thermometer and read it.  “No I don’t.”  He waggles his brows at me and says, “I am off to work.  Make yourself some chicken soup and stay in bed.  If you feel the same in the evening, I’ll take you to the doctor.”

I smile dutifully.  I know I should not feel irritated, but he infantilizes me.  I am not a baby.

Sigh … he is a good man!

I hear the door slam shut as my benign despot goes to work.  My body hurts, my throat feels sore.  I put the thermometer into my mouth again.  No fever.

Getting out of bed, I undress.  No, nothing should cover me as I meditate.  I sit down on the floor mat and start breathing deeply, trying to get to the root of the problem.

His face flashes in front of me, angry bitter contemptuous.  Nothing I did or achieved was ever good for him.  Surprising, considering he was a big zero in life.  What did he ever do, apart from torment me, pile on his huge burden of expectations on me?

Would it ever be over?

I recall the relief, joy even, as I flew out of the city, feeling miles pile up between me and his vice like grip on my life, my happiness.

Breathe deeply ….

Forgive yourself ….

The fever burns away, burning away the anger, the hurt, the recrimination, the burden of crippling expectations.

I sweat

I come to terms with myself, I am the simplest of beings.  I want to live this life with simplicity.  I want to be kind, loving.  I want honesty, tolerance and humor.  I want to be simple.

My throat hurts.  I want to not be dependent, yes even on my benevolent despot.  That path leads to frustration, makes one manipulative.

But most of all, I want to forgive myself.

Meditation done.

Sighing I pick up my phone, still unclothed and punch his number.

“Yes Daddy.  My husband is in office.  I will speak to him in the evening.”

I don’t want to go visit him ….

Forgive him, forgive myself.

I wash away the regret, the remorse.

I walk into the balcony with my cup of tea and look around, aware of the  obstacles of  perceived misperceptions, of self-awareness which inhibit,  serotonin shortage or more likely the unfortunate consequence of having an ego– at once striving and reconciling.  The desire to love a parent, unreservedly but knowing, as an adult, that he is flawed.

I watch a two year old girl cling to her father’s leg, until he laughs and buys her the ice cream she wants.

I smile.  Put down my mug and call.

“Darling, Daddy rang up.  He’s had another stroke.  I will be flying down tonight.  No I don’t want you to come with me, I want to do this alone.”

“How is your fever?” he asks.

“No fever” I reply.

It burnt away, leaving a kind of forgiveness …

For me

For Daddy

The Story Cabin prompt Fever