Her Maiden Glide!

​Sitting on the edge of an outstretched boulder, she peered down the deep valley and from somewhere far below the cliff, she heard her mother’s cheerful calls. Focusing sharply on the sound and narrowing her vision, she tried to map the vast expanse streched ahead. The distant horizon looked unending, and welcoming.

Since the day she was born, she was looking forward for this moment. The very first time she had seen her father take the leap off the edge, she was spellbound and today it was her turn to conquer the heights.

She was not nervous, but her tiny legs were shaking in anticipation. Her mind was focused and with a natural instinct flowing through her veins, she jumped off the cliff and spread her fresh wings.

The sudden gush of wind on her feathers lifted her up, and she immediately felt weightless. Beating her wings for the first time, she soared high, loudly called for her mother and from somewhere far below, she heard the delighted reply.

The Sun was shining bright and the afternoon sky was clear. She kept her head stright, looked ahead, channeling the breeze across her gleaming cheeks. Slowly, she climmed up in circles and when she reached far above the hills, she stopped flapping her wings, allowing the warm air to help her glide.

As she flew, far ahead the Earth seemed to merg with the unknown in a large curve. Surprised, she looked down and as far and wide as her young eyes could see, she saw the world in a new perspective. The huge valley was now a scratch on the land, the trees were one large green canvas and the mighty pond was just a puddle. The hills looked beaten, a hazy mist covered the landscape and except for the soft whistling sound of the wind, all she heard was the silence of the skies; and for the first time, she felt at home.

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The man and his speaking trees!

He was out in the woods since daybreak and as he aimlessly wandered among the thickets, he sensed a lethal hush slowly descend from the dense canopy.

This was not the first time that he had ventured in to the forest. Ever since his wife was found dead hanging inside their home, the only place where he got solace was in the dark jungles.

He was poor, he had no kids, he wore tattered clothes, he hardly ate, none of the relatives cared for him and the only friends that he considered his were the trees in the forest. On many a occasions, people had seen him standing close to the trunk, looking high up through the branches and mumbling in strange words, as if having a serious conversation with the trees.

Today as he stepped deeper into the jungle to meet his best friend, a large peepal tree that grew next to a creek, he could sense that something was not alright around him. Since midday the birds had stopped chirping, winds had died and many herds of deer that he usually saw hanging about in the shades were missing.

Surrounded in such strange silence, for the first time his mind strated to feel uneasy among the trees. With every step he took, he gradually started to hear strange noices float through the bushes and when he waved through the knee deep stream, he could feel something following close behind him, something he dared not to turn back and look.

Slowly as the dread overtook his senses, he started to move faster. Rushing past each tree, he looked at them with imploring eyes, as if begging for help and when he got closer to the creek, he began to run towards his best friend, the large peepal tree.

No one has heard or seen him since that strange afternoon and people believe that he is still living happily among his friends, the trees with which he could converse.

Miss you, Mom.

​As I write this, I’m traveling out of town for few days and the hardest thing I have done in last couple of weeks is to wish my mother a goodbye tonight.

I’m 38, happily unmarried and mourning.

After my dad’s unforeseen demise in the early hours of 4th November last year, my quotidian world has narrowed down from two individuals – my parents, to just one – my mother. A caring younger sister and brother-in-law, their adorable 6 year old daughter Charvie, a very tiny bunch of close-knit cousins, two friends Krishna and Shiv who will stand through thick and thin and a biased heartfelt care for someone in particular make-up my extended personal world.

As the distance between me and my home in Bengaluru get’s extended with every passing mile, an aura of deep desolation has started to engulf my soul. Slowly, my heart is getting heavier, my fingers are turning cold and I’m feeling helplessly empty.

She is 64, sadly widowed and mourning.

Since my dad’s death, now my mother’s world revolves solely around her home. She keeps herself occupied with a bit of reading, watching television, cooking and everyday chores. With a tradition that does not allow a woman to visit any other home for 12 months after her husband’s death, the only time my mother get’s out of the house is for her daily walk. Once or twice a day she speaks to her daughter, sisters and few relatives on phone. Once in a while some of my cousins visit home.

On the other hand, I spend 6 to 8 hours away from home. I have things and means which can keep me occupied at worst of the moments – there are books, music, internet, a laptop and a smartphone with access to unlimited possibilities.

Right at this moment, I feel selfish for leaving my mother behind and travel all by myself. Given half a chance, I want to turnaround, get back home, look at her surprised face and assure my mother that I never want to leave her home alone, never again.

Her, him and me.

​There was something broken inside her, something she had held tight in her bosom till this morning, something very precious. May be it was her trust on a man she had believed from the time they had met three years before, or it could have been the hope that was allowed to buildup in her heart as she started to spend evermore time between his arms. Or, may be it was both the trust and the hope that he had ruined inside her. Either case, he had lost her, forever.

She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a very plain white top. There was nothing spectacular about her appearance; and yet she looked adorably attractive. Her eyes were shining, the lips were tiny, and even in that heartbreaking moment, she looked vivacious.

As she sat in the corner with a steaming cup of coffee on the table, she wore her earphones and started listening to his favourite song. When she took the first sip, the coffee tasted little bitter to her liking. A sigh went up her throat, her mouth turned dry, a strange sense of hurt overtook her mind and without any warning, his name escaped from her lips. For the first time in last three years, his name sounded sour to her ears. Funny that it had never happened before.

Pausing the song in middle, she opend her Facebook profile, changed the relationship status to Single and waited. She could see him online.

Her phone rang, his name flashed on the screen and with a contented smile, she cut the call.

She had made her point, and she felt good.

Sitting in the other corner of the cafe, I continued to glance at the ever changing expressions on her face. As she tossed the mobile carelessly in to her bag, I couldn’t help but getup and walk towards her. I wanted to sit with her, buy her a fresh cup of coffe and ask if she had broken up with him the way I had just seen in my mind.

Deep down in my heart, I wanted her to say yes, and I wanted her to be single.

The Legendary GT Express

​I’m a big train buff and during the mid 1980s, there was one train name that I heard frequently and the name still mystifies me – the GT Express, an acronym for the majestically named Grand Trunk Express. 

(GT Express, caputred in 1986)

Every time Shanti Chikkamma, as we fondly called my Grandmother’s younger sister, visited her daughter Geeta married to a gentleman in Bhopal, GT Exptess is the train she chose to travel. Skipping the directly connecting then biweekly Kerala Karnataka Express between Bangalore and Bhopal, for reasons I have forgotten, she always traveled to erstwhile Madras, now renamed as Chennai, and cruised in GT Express from it’s origin city to Bhopal.

(GT Express, in recent times)

Today as I read the history of GT Express, what strikes me most is its initial run – when introduced in 1929, the train ran between Peshawar, now in Pakistan, and Mangalore, a port city in Karnataka, India via Chennai. The journey took 104 hours in total, probably making it the longest train route in then British India. After a year, the route was cut short to run between Lahore and Mettupalyam, the gateway to the Southern hill station Ooty and later to its present day run between Chennai and New Delhi.

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