Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Amanda

A story about twins, a preview to what I may expand into a larger piece. I do need to know your suggestions and criticism on this. Read, and write down your point of view.  https://lemmeb.com/2016/11/06/amanda/
On a cold wintry night, when Della was busy warming water for her mistress, her son came running in the pantry, breathless, and in excited tones yelled out “Aunt Agnes is in pain! She is calling for you!!”
Della was prepared, as she had known the time had come for the baby to be born. The midwife lived close by. She told little Luis to run and fetch her, while she would be by Agnes, as well as prepare all that was necessary to bring the child into this world. Della marveled at this gift of the almighty, and never ceased to wonder at the miracle of childbirth. She could see Agnes in pain, it was her first time. She held her hand and patted her forehead reassuringly wiping the sweat. The biting cold outside and the unfriendly weather conditions were comparable to what Agnes was going through tonight. Her heart was stone cold and sad, as frozen as a corpse.
” Turn the heater on please, I am shivering” , Asked Agnes in a weak voice. The heater was already on, Della wondered, why the midwife was taking so much time to come. She rubbed Agnes’ cold hands and feet vigorously, till they were warm.
The heater was already on, Della wondered, why the midwife was taking so much time to come. She rubbed Agnes’ cold hands and feet vigorously, till they were warm.
“Hurry! Call her! The baby is coming!” Screamed Agnes. The pain seemed to be tearing right through her body. Just as the head with messy hair showed up, the midwife landed gasping for breath and shaking off the snow. She washed her hands and got to her job right away. There she was, a pretty blue-eyed little bundle crying, while the two ladies attending Agnes, did their job of cleaning the baby and placing her in her mothers’ arms. But Agnes continued to scream in pain, and both the ladies wondered what could be the matter. The midwife bewildered at her own failure of not realizing that there were twins, hastily worked upon the other baby. A girl too, as pretty as her sister, appeared with some trouble but had a dark red scar on her forehead. Della was stumped at the sight of two wiggly little creatures crying and asking for all the attention from the world they had just appeared in. Ah Well! thought the tired, dazed but happy, and emotional Agnes. Two little bundles of joy, she smiled, cuddling both pensively. She was going to have her hands full, and for now did not have the time to think about her wayward husband.
They married soon after a short courtship, maybe they should have known each other better. Agnes never understood his mania for social acceptance, to the extent of hobnobbing around all the time. They never got time for themselves. And of late, after he got to know that she was expecting a baby, he was hardly home. He stayed away at the pretext of starting a new theme park in the neighboring city. She also felt that maybe he was involved with someone emotionally. You know how a woman senses it when her man goes adrift. She was a gentle, petite lady, creative and talented in her own way. She was a brilliant needleworker, and her craft was sold in all high-end boutiques. She kept her mind away from getting distressed, but today of all days, she wished he was there by her side. Stoically, Agnes tried to keep her husband out of her mind, she would maybe deal with this later.
Agnes, the beautiful mother of two naughty, demanding, little darlings, was a patient mother as if she was here on earth just to be a mom. Amanda and Loretta were happy little children. They grew up without their father, occasionally seeing him as a man in the house, who would be there for a couple of days and then go away, promising to be back soon. But it was never ever soon.
Amanda, with the scar, was more lively, fun and restless, always up to some mischief. Loretta was serious, the teachers favorite, always doing it all right. Somehow Amanda always got into trouble, was scolded more often, got hurt more, ran into occasional trouble, but was brilliant too.  Amanda was a lover at heart. She had no heirs about her and was always there to help selflessly. It looked as though Loretta was jealous of Amanda’s free spirit and humble disposition, wondering how she managed to get good grades, especially when she gave almost negligible time to her studies, somehow always making her feel like a failure . She pretended to be affectionate, at times behaving like inseparable sisters. Amanda never guessed Loretta’s sinister feelings towards her.She blindly loved her sister and had faith in her.
Sibling rivalry is natural at times, but this envy was taking a violent shape.Amanda loved animals and got a little kitty home. The adorable kitty was loved by all except Loretta. She may have been able to muster up enough endurance for the cat had it not been her sisters favorite. She devised plans of killing her. Loretta read that lilies were not safe for the cat and subversively added pieces of the lily in the kitten’s wet food. Within a few hours of consuming the meal, kitty experienced vomiting and had to be rushed to the vet. Loretta felt an inner sense of satisfaction seeing Amanda helpless and devastated when the doctor pronounced the feline dead. In another incident, Loretta changed the contents of Amanda’s prize-winning essay, one that she had to read out loud in front of the middle school. She deftly managed to duplicate the handwriting. Amanda suffered embarrassment and pain, wondering who could be behind this vile act. Loretta made her believe it was Katy, Amanda’s best friend, telling her that she was jealous of her, thus breaking their friendship.
And so it continued, these little manipulative actions of Loretta. Her evil actions were not being caught and she kept harming Amanda, who stayed blissfully unaware of this. On the contrary, Loretta portrayed herself as a self-sacrificing young sister.
One day at the swimming pool, when Loretta had gone with her boyfriend and he pulled her into the water. Amanda saw this and knew her sisters fear of drowning. She was in the deep struggling for air, while her boyfriend did not fathom the intensity of fear Loretta had. Amanda jumped in, held her sister’s hands and safely got her out. Loretta struggled to make sense of all those feelings she had for her sister after this incident. Remorseful, she looked into her sisters simple and true love for her for the first time. Regretting all those times when she had behaved appallingly hideous with her sister, she went into a severe depression. Agnes who was aware of Loretta’s mean attitude tried to deal with it gently but never understood the extent Loretta could go to.
Loretta struggled to make sense of all those feelings she had for her sister after this incident. It took a lot of inner struggle on her part to break that hard boiled evil exterior, but Loretta was determined. Whatever reasons were behind her wicked destructive behavior, she resolved to dislodge it out of her system.Both, mother and sister helped Loretta out of this. They were by her always, thus cementing  the bond between the three of them, creating memories that they would always cherish.
As for Amanda, despite the scar on her forehead that could have made her less appealing  to look at, she continued to win hearts and make friends, becoming more like her mother, creative, sensitive and delightful.

Ouch! That Hurt!

I would like to share my short story published on my website lemmeb.com . It was an assignment with a limited word count, maybe I can expand it now.  Please do take some time to read it and post your comments, Thank you.

POW POW!! Thwack!! bam, bang, biff , bwok!! and here goes, clobber clobber clobber!!! Thud!! Tammy fell down with a loud sound, and after all the clobbering, he did not think that he would be able to get up and be able to fight back. But just then Vi’s beautiful face came in front of him, and as if he heard her saying, Tammy! Get up! You cannot let go! Tammy was not afraid, least of all of Arvin. Nor was he distressed of falling down and getting hurt. For he was no faint-hearted person. The physical hurt was nothing compared to what he felt when Arvin bad mouthed Vi. How could he ever call her a slut! How could he have called her such horrible names? Vi was Tammy’s sweetheart, his love, and his life. They had known each other from college. Her mother was a pole dancer. And the man would have been her father if the couples friendship would have conjugated into marriage. Only that he decided to walk out on her mother leaving her to fend for herself and her daughter whom she loved with all her heart and soul. Vi was a beautiful person inside out. Her dream to be a doctor was erased suddenly when she could not survive the motorcycle accident, that she met one fateful day. Just as destiny would have it, Tammy was with her, she had insisted that she wanted to ride the bike. How he cursed himself for allowing her to jaunt along happily, not knowing that this first attempt would be her last ! It would never ever end, these heartbreaking thoughts. He wondered what karma he was facing. Whatever it was, he would never forget her or stop loving her.
So here he was, up again, and with one final punch, that fell heavy on Arvin, who tumbled down, and decided not to continue with the fight as friends from both sides demanded an end to this illogical brawl. Vi wasn’t even alive! Nursing their wounds, both turned their backs on each other, probably never to see each other again. Tammy was rushed to the hospital, and with some heavy blows inflicted on him, he needed some serious attention. And there he was, at the doc, who seemed to be a good-humoured fellow and keenly  heard out Tammy’s woes. He downplayed it so that Tammy, whom he knew was more broken inside than outside. He cracked jokes, made Tammy laugh, gave him a sedative and kept him under observation for a day in the hospital. Tammy’s parents, were there, all the while, by his side, sad about his condition. But confident that time would heal all.

Monday, October 10, 2016

MyStoryMyWay

Ok, so I have tried, and there are major additions and editing to do, in this story for children, mostly seven to ten-year-olds. But for the time being, I am putting it across to you all. I need comments and constructive critics to help me.

And this is how she felt now, she felt that she had finally arrived. Most of the animals had definitely started to have faith in her. They lived in a secluded little forest, among the many islands in the sea, this one was the greenest and the closest to land, a city , they called by the name of Iktara. She knew outof memory, because she had been around once when a ship had anchored there for a day, and humans, young men, and women had ventured into the island, calling it by this name. To them, it seemed habitable but were conscious of not spoiling it, or making it known to too many. They seemed to be scientists, studying life forms in water. They found these waters interesting , as it was rich in marine life. 
Myrina knew that she was a tigress with a difference. Affectionately called May, her parents had always felt that she was a mismatch to the tiger tribe that she belonged. Gentle and forgiving, she was confident of herself. She knew somehow that she was blessed. There was a strong guiding force within her that would direct her in responding to all situations that she came across. She was a warrior in her own right. She felt that maybe she was a descendant of a herbivorous peace-loving race. Of a race that believed in the purity of mind and intentions. Occasionally when she was tricked into violence by her father, the brave, and much-respected tiger, who was a feared king of the jungle, she felt cheated. She knew she had to assert her own way, and not kill to be made to feel powerful. Survival was important, so she helped herself to plants and fruits, abundantly available in the forest, and still felt strong enough. 
But there was a cold war ensuing between the marine creatures and the forest animals. The hippos, crocodiles, sea lions, the sea otters and others were at one time friends with the land dweller creatures. But now it seemed they did not see eye to eye. Each time the zebras came to have water or enjoy being at the waterfront, the crocs would try and attack them. Myrina wanted to promote peace, she did not want to fuel feelings of animosity among all the creatures. After all, it was not for them to fight amongst each other. She felt that the monkey clan and a few others were stoking the fire and were in no mood for encouraging any reconciliation. She knew they were caged in their own small thinking.
The monkeys would not allow the rest of the wild-woods to know about Myrina’s good intentions. Somehow they were happy creating malicious talk about her. It so happened one day that a dazzle of Zebras strolled towards the embankment to drink water. It was a hot day, and troops of apes, a herd of elephants, donkeys, deer and others had come down to the seafront to enjoy the water and have a friendly chat. It was an unsaid rule of the forest that once they were there quenching their thirst, none would attack.      
The crocs, fierce creatures, dreaded by most, also decided that they would not attack when the animals came together to quash their thirst. But  Legarto, a vicious crocodile, who had no regards for the regular norms, and would love to flaunt them in a horrendous way, caught hold of a foal’s leg and pulled it down into the water. The baby cried for help, and just as May, who was hovering around in the shadows, pounced to save it, Ziller, the foolish ape yelled out aloud, calling for all the animals to beware of the tigress that she was there to attack. Alas!! the little baby zebra fell prey to Legarto’s greed, and a new growing life was snuffed out forever. A loud screeching wail tore through the heart of the forest, the inconsolable mother, could not remove herself from the banks of the waters. The Zebras, her friends and family, stayed on to be by her, condolences ensued, and slowly, sadly, they moved away, leaving the mom and dad to deal with the loss. 
May, dejected and mournful, knew that if the ape had not got the Zebras to hurry away from her, their little baby would still be alive. The clever crow flying above saw the despondency in May’s eyes and even heard her mumble to herself grieving the loss, and wishing Ziller had not behaved in such a savage and cruel manner. But for him, baby stripes would still be alive. The crow managed to pass this story far and wide into the thickets. In order to create truce between land and sea creatures May thought she must have a plan which included taking the help of others, so that  the animals would know when to save their fellow creations. She did not know yet when this kind of help would be required. 
Well, the day did arrive. The humans appeared again, and once again for their research on marine life, or so May thought. Except that this seemed like a noisier crowd, with more people and they were littering the place like most humans were so notoriously known to do . She was aghast when she saw two of them stabbing in the sea with spears, and one of them got so excited when he had stabbed a fish, and all cheered at his catch. They drank, were loud, danced to music, and cooked and ate up the fish they had caught. All of this broke May’s heart. And just as she was going to get help from other animals, to create a scare so that the human gang would scram from the island, and know that they should never ever venture down here ever again , the clever crow, Sig, who was now May’s friend flew towards her in great urgency. He dropped some terrible news down on her. He told her about one of her dear friends being attacked by Legarto, the crocodile.So now May just needed to make a quick decision. Here, to terrorise the humans, she roared her fiercest roar, and got her sea lion friend, Wakahoo, bring in the sharks to circle around in the close vicinity of the banks, to scare away the party goers. And, sure enough, off they went! That was done in a jiffy. They cleared the island, though leaving the place filthy and scattered.
Wakahoo’s little pup, who was enjoying some friendly time with her friend, a baby dolphin, on the other end of the banks, fell prey to teasing by the zebra, who was waiting for a chance to take revenge. Wakahoo, and his family were one of the friendliest and helpful sea animals in that island. But the zebra’s were not concerned. They had to take revenge. May, rushed and got the elephants in to negotiate, and also, her parents, the first couple, there for effect. Though she did implore her father not to get angry or create any more violence. He would be there only to create an impact, to which he did agree. He did see that his little girl had grown, and was impressive in her actions, indeed.
And so the elephants marched on to the embankment. So did the group of hippos swim towards the shore. The deer, wolves, and others, all came in. This got the zebras, to stop their provocation. They had irked the little pup enough for her to yelp out loud and create quite a commotion. But in came Legarto, and his gang, to escalate the problem. It was the elephants who rushed in and immediately got the little ones out of the way. It was May, who came up and encouraged silence and a dialogue. She asked why would they attack each other out of some old animosity. She determinedly got the zebras, crocodiles and all the others to acknowledge that they must maintain peace. The presence of the king and queen of the jungle, roused respect and gratifying remarks from all the animals. And for now, they all went back to their respective places , promising peace and geniality among each other. 

https://lemmeb.com/2016/10/10/animals-of-the-forest/

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Love me. love my food.



Right from the time we are born, we care about being fed and who is taking care of that innate yearning for a full stomach, and the satisfaction that follows. Its the warmth, cuddle, and passion with which the mom breast feeds/ bottle feeds her child, that adds to the yearning. So food is undoubtedly connected with any close relationship that one has.How far we let this continue in our lives, depends on us, and how we condition ourselves to food.That feeling of satiety and satisfaction is common to both, a happy relationship and eating something we love. This I suppose, in a way, explains, why people binge eat when they fall out of any relationship. They substitute food with the fondness and affinity they got in the bond they shared with another person.
It has often been quoted that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, what's the way to a woman's heart? So its like men just don't want sex alone, they want good food too!  Many commercials show a happy home, where the woman is doing the cooking and feeding the family. Commercials of spices, or quick fix cooking through packaged foods, or more. The torch of lighting the flame of love, through food, in a home is in the hands of a woman or both the man as well as his better half. I wonder. Couples, who marry into different cultures, have to work on this aspect too, the food. Which restaurant to spend an amiable evening together? Veg, or non veg? Sea food or general? Seems like they ultimately come to an understanding, most of the times, and do not let food come in the way of their bond.
For little children food that is on the table, that is given in their lunch boxes, food that is packed for picnics, served during parties etc, defines their tastes. It is based on the delightful memories that they have of all or most of these events in their homes, where they were brought up. Meal times in a house, means time to communicate/connect with each other, time for a laugh, less a time to discuss serious issues. It's great if the meals are discussed and the burden of laying the table, clearing it, and even churning up a side dish, or a part of the main course, is shared by members of the family. It's a superb time to bond.  Sometimes children love to help their mom in the kitchen. They must be allowed to cooperate, gives them a feeling of camaraderie and builds their relationship with food, tastes, and family. So the important thing is to have healthy meals in the menu.
Another aspect about the partnership between food and love is that it has so often been connected with love making.

 "If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart." — Cesar Chavez
Something that I had read once said that great food is like having great sex, the more you have the more you want. When you eat a meal with your loved one, you're giving quality time to that person, you emphasize that its a personal moment for the two of you.
"Cooking is like love: It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." — Harriet van Horne
The association between food and love is undeniable. This is what I feel about this friendship, it's good if you let it thrive with a healthy air.   

Posted initially on my food blog http://cookmeyum.blogspot.in/

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Street food of Allahabad

My post on the food blog that I maintain, says a bit about my city too. Cross posting it here for those who follow this blog. It also has a slide on the monuments of the city made by my son and his friends when they were in school.
http://cookmeyum.blogspot.in/2016/04/street-food-of-allahabad.html
 You can add some favorite dishes of your city too, or if there are a few missing from the menu, for fellow Allahabadis...do pitch in. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Empowering Children-Where to Draw the Line? Posted by Varnika Kapoor on May 2, 2008

Tina's son, now eleven and a half years old, has reached the seventh grade. She is proud of her son, he is doing well in school, and has enough on hand the whole day, pursuing his hobbies. And all is going fine, she thanks God for this.. But a thought seems to be nagging her of late, She feels her son does not look as mature as his classmates, he seems to be blissfully unaware of this, and she notices that other parents who have same-age sons hand over much more responsibility to them. She on her part cannot make herself allow him to travel around in the city on his own,make him run errands for her. Children apparently love to perform small odd tasks for their parents, it makes them feel responsible. She is contemplating allowing her child to get more independent than he is now

Parents and teachers need to respect and recognize each child's abilities. They all mature at different stages. But at some point we have to allow them to make their own decisions. It does give them that feeling of accomplishment. It also allows the child's self esteem to grow. Besides we several times snub the child when he/she is giving his/her point of view, or taking part in a discussion, in a way curtailing the child's sense of confidence in himself. Whatever their opinion, we can at least make them feel that their ideas matter. In a sense children must be able to speak freely, without fear of repercussions.

Now, it is a fact that parents instinctively want to protect their children. So those who are "brave" enough to send their children to school on their own, for example, are looked upon as extra 'Daring". The other not-so-brave parents feel that times are bad, it was different during the years when they were growing up. Abductions, rape, road accidents and such, are on the increase, so why take the chance. Let the child grow up and he will learn all , in good time. Does this behavior hamper growth in children? Is it a fact that daring attitude in children, helps their horizons to widen? Is Tina's anxiety justified? Is it going to make her child feel like a lesser mortal among his very-independent peers? Is she exercising bad-parenting?

Maybe taking the middle path is the answer, maybe you could have your own view-point.. If you do, do put it forth..

Watch the video provided in the link and see if it changes your stand..Read the comments too, its got me thinking..
Related link : http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/202

Patriotism in the Curriculum Posted by Varnika Kapoor on September 17, 2007

I was just wondering how much of our curriculum is devoted to patriotism? How many children know about the heroes of war? How many do a follow up to see what the families are going through? Those who have fought and died while fighting, do we know about them? Do schools tell stories of their valour? To tell stories could kindle a feeling of inquisitiveness, to know more about those people who have actually left their homes, and loved ones to be at the border fighting and dying for us. If nothing, we would respect and love our country a little more and be proud citizens.

The youth today is so obsessed by their own selves that they , I feel, need to understand those youth who have given up their all for their country. I was happy to learn that my daughter is studying about 'History of Indian Independence' in her undergrad. course of B.Tech.But what about the heroes? Does the history syllabus in schools cater to this at all? I for one would like to know of schools who are taking note of this and have some portion of their syllabus dedicated to patriotism. There is so much of time and money spent by the media to cover the film world, what about sparing some more time to India and its people who are there at the front braving it all for us?

Why should we crib when children rush out of their country at the smallest given opportunity? Here is a poem, not written by an Indian, which I thought I would share it with you all:

Larry Vaincourt has been writing for many years and has been published across Canada and the United States; this poem was first published in 1987 in his newspaper column. There are several versions of this poem circulating the web containing errors; but what you see below is the original text. JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
(A Soldier Died Today)
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.


And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.


He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.


Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?


A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.


It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.


Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?


He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.


If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.