Monthly Archives: August 2017

Book Excerpt: Shadow in the Mirror – Deepti Menon

SHADOW IN THE MIRROR – DEEPTI MENON

Shadow in the Mirror

Excerpt:

The door opened and her aunt bustled in. An air of expectation hung about her, tempered by an aura of anxiety that surprised Kavita. “Kavita, child, please don’t let your heart rule your head!” Her aunt seemed to be actually pleading with her. Kavita nodded mechanically as she looked at the older woman’s lined face. Wasn’t this her future being decided? “I will not make any compromises, whatever Aunty says!” she said to herself, but at the moment it was easier to concede to her. One last look at the mirror, the smoothening down of an unruly curl that kissed her flawless profile, and then she waited in impatience for the summons. The minutes went by, dragging their feet, emphasized by the ticking of the clock. Or was it actually the beating of her heart?

Black and White – By Jeslyn

//This story has been submitted by 8 year old Jeslyn who resides in Hyderabad. She had written this tale as a part of  the weekly Creative Writing Classes which I conduct in my society. The kids were asked to write a story related to friendship.//

Today is a day of celebration and jubilation. The American Civil War has come to an end. It is 1865 and the 15 year old and shabbily dressed Martha, a black African slave girl, is bidding farewell to the noble looking Stella, who is also of the same age. Stella is the daughter of the wealthy white landlord and Martha and her parents worked as slaves in his cotton farm. Stella and Martha have known each other since they were just 7. Stella used to feel sorry witnessing the plight of slaves at her father’s farm. She became Martha’s friend and began to teach her whatever she learnt at school. Martha grasped things fast. This continued and for 8 years, Stella educated Martha to bring her on par with herself in knowledge and skills.

Are we worth it?

// This article was chosen as the top article on India’s largest parenting platform mycity4kids in the month of August 2017. This was also published by media/news company “Youth ki Awaaz” and is available at the below link:

https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2017/08/are-we-worth-it/

Bhavya traversed down the memory lane as the classic patriotic numbers played out one after the other in her locality. The reminiscences of her humming these songs along with her friends in their school bus brought the rare authentic curve on her lips. She recollected how she used to wait ardently to gorge on the delectable laddoos offered by her school on the occasion of Independence Day post the flag hoisting event. Her heart yearned for those idyllic days.  Lost in her own thoughts of her erstwhile life, she was blissfully unaware that her next client for the day had stepped into the room and was calling out for her. Her reverie was broken by the blaring honking of a vehicle in close vicinity and she realized that the musical extravaganza had concluded as well. On a reflex, she turned around and fear gripped her. Had she frittered her client’s valuable time away? Before Bhavya could apologize, she had been stripped off her garments and her façade had been put on. Bhavya had become Rosy. Rosy was aware that there was no way to escape from the besmirched, dingy brothel. She wondered if she would ever be able to breathe freedom again. The 17 year old was awaiting her Independence Day.

Raghu was an optimistic and affable soul. To the world, he was blind but he could see through the darkness he was born with and at times, could probably even observe what the people with the finest eyesight missed. He often thought that maybe, God had compensated him with this innate knack of sensing people’s emotions and mind-sets. He earned a meagre income, just enough to survive, by performing his daily job as the milk delivery boy in a particular neighbourhood. He had completed his basic education and could also type well on a computer. Those who knew him were often amazed by his independence and self-sufficiency. One day, a lady walked up to him to seek permission to cover a story about him. She clicked his pictures as he posed with a beaming smile and gave him hope when she mentioned about how the story would undeniably go viral and make him instantly famous. Though recognition was nowhere on his priority list, he presumed it would make it easier for him to get another job, a more respectable one, which could help him improve his living conditions and support his debt-ridden family. He was confident about his capabilities but unfortunately, most people did not even give him the benefit of doubt and assumed that his visual impairment would be a deterrent to his dedication and effort. So, as expected, his story did go viral but nothing altered for Raghu. A few did mention to him that they were proud to share his story as they “knew” him. Life was still the same for him – the same old routine, the same old “isolation” and the same old “pitiful stares”. At times, he speculated about the reason why no one out of the many who read his story felt that he was worthy enough. Perhaps, they were now engaged in making another story go viral.

Short Story – The Illusion

// This story was among the shortlisted entries for Muse of the Month contest conducted by Women’s Web in the month of July 2017 and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/08/maybe-someday-we-will-shortstory/

This story has also been published online by the publication house Readomania. Below is the link to it:

http://www.readomania.com/story/the-illusion

 

“I would like to conclude by reiterating that a person’s sexuality is neither a choice nor a syndrome. Just because we cannot understand something which is uncommon, it cannot be declared unnatural. It is as natural as your sexual orientation or mine. It’s about time we educate ourselves and initiate open dialogues about this subject to raise awareness. Please join us and be a part of our movement. Every voice matters!”

As Nikhil stepped down from the podium, the auditorium reverberated with a thunderous applause. But, his internal turmoil was piercing enough to stifle the resonance around him. He wanted to break away from the throng of people that had enwreathed him – some were from the media, some from the audience and some belonged to the event organizing team. On any other usual day, he would have gladly spent time interacting with the crowd about his mission which had become the reason for his existence. But this day was different. It was the anniversary of the horrid incident that had wobbled the core of his being and had altered the course of his life. He wanted to grieve in solitude; he wanted to reminisce all the precious moments that he had so fondly hoarded in his treasure trove of memories.

Once Nikhil managed to make an exit from the auditorium, he scuttled furtively to leave the venue premises. He made a quick call to his driver and just when he disconnected it, he overheard a group of men conversing in voices which, though suppressed, were audible in the grim silence of the night.

“Look, he is THE Nikhil – the LGBT rights’ activist whose speech you missed.”

“Oh he is the one! What missed? I am glad I escaped. I don’t know why did you guys want to listen to his gibberish. You know what, I think he is a gay himself and that is the reason he is so determined to fight for this cause.”

This proclamation was followed by a sneering laughter. Nikhil grimaced and turned to give the man an earful. Being perceived as a gay never bothered him. It was the ignorant, callous attitude towards such a sensitive matter and the mocking tone that ruffled his feathers. But then, something stopped him from walking up to the men. His car had arrived and he wanted to get back home as soon as he could. While his driver manoeuvred his way through the Mumbai traffic, Nikhil unlocked his mobile and longingly stared at Priya. That smile! Her dazzling smile could brighten even the gloomiest of days. A year had passed since Nikhil had lost her. Submerged in her thoughts, he could feel knots in his stomach. He dashed towards his room once he set foot into his apartment and reached for the bedside drawer to read the letter for the umpteenth time. This was not an ordinary letter. It was the driving force behind his crusade against the apathy of the society and the legal system. It was his source of strength and indefatigable resolve. It was the last memory of the love of his life, his wife and his best friend. It was her suicide note.

It takes a village to raise my child

Chosen by BlogAdda among the top picks of the week

// This post has also been published by Women’s Web and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/08/it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child/

The baby yowled again. She sighed! She wanted to prepare dinner and was already running late with her chores. But the impish 21 months old would not allow her to perform any task and bawled the moment she turned towards the stove. She tried all the tricks to keep the toddler occupied but when nothing worked, she was left with no choice but to hold the tiny tot in one hand and cook. It was uncomfortable because she was making Koftas and hence, had to be tremendously vigilant to ensure there was no spluttering of oil on the child cocooned in her arms. Sounds like a typical day in the life of a mother? Well, yes it is, except that the child is definitely mine but the lady in question is not me, but is my close friend who lives in my neighbourhood.  That is the kind of bond my little one shares with my loved ones who reside in my housing complex.

Friends have always played a pivotal role in my life. Needless to say, my family means the world to me and I cannot imagine my life without them. But, my friends are my lifeline and they occupy a unique place in my heart. My friends have stood by me like a rock in every circumstance come what may. They have looked after me during times of illness or despair, when I was away from family. They have watched my back and instilled in me the confidence to be myself. They have brought out the best in me by invariably egging me on to tap and hone my abilities. They have always made me feel like a star. They have given me immeasurable moments to cherish for a lifetime. They have taught me lessons about life which no book or teacher could ever edify me on.