Short Stories & Poems

Image source:

Image source:

By Shruthi Venukumar:

Heavy fringes overhung my forehead. Clouds overhung my head.

“I want to sit down,” Eva said.

“I want to stand here,” I thundered like a prelude to the overcast sky’s downpour.

Down at the fountain, a young girl was stroking her lover’s face with a yellow rose. My face fell like the wilted rose as I saw Eva walking to the grassy patch to have her wish of sitting down. It sat there welcoming her in drooling wetness.

She is doing this to irk me. Who would sit on such wet grass?
“Come here. It’s wet there,” I called out. She turned with a stale expression.

“Who’s going there anyway? I’m walking straight out.” There in the middle of the amphitheatre at Central Park, New Delhi, my expression turned stony like the ground beneath me. “Go then,” I retorted. She did not as much as shrug before turning on her heel.

“Come back here,” I yanked her hand evincing a sneer from her. I pulled her to the railing of the tiny bridge we stood at the edge of. She did not resist.

“Look at all these couples here. Do you think they are really in love? Seems candyfloss to me,” I declared. No response. “Are you listening?”

I veered my eyes and found her humming a tune with her headphones on. My face felt a sudden sting of shame.
“You aren’t even listening to me.” My hand darted to pull the ear bud nearer to me out of her ear. As my hand strained to go round to dislodge the other ear bud, her hand lazed towards it.

Good! I thought. She’s taking it off herself. She does not absolutely disrespect me. I smugly turned away. “Yeah … look at these couples he…” And I turned to her again for a shocker. Her headphones were back on. “Get lost,” I spilled in no uncertain lip movements.

Five minutes later and five fake hugs to five different people later, we were seated in a group of friends. I snatched a moment to whisper to Eva, all troubles forgotten for a moment, “I suddenly have a lot of respect for you.”

“I know why you say that,” she said with what I suspected was a cynical smile. Maybe it was the lighting.

At 19, six of us in the assembled group were together in mass media class, here to cobble up the an A1 ad as part of our group project. Part of our job involved bearing with each other with tact and diplomacy no matter what we thought of each other otherwise. Eva was my accompaniment today. On good days, best friend. She lived in a hostel with the usual strict rules on deadlines and in-timings. The Cinderella hour was 6:45 P.M. It was 6:30 P.M on my watch. She was on a night out today. Today, through the weekend – four sumptuous days – she was living outside her hostel. Not with me. With Sheena who was, to Eva’s amusement, a Capricorn like me. Capricious I thought. She is always out on night outs with her. I wonder how it is that when she’s over at my place she always has to leave early while with Sheena it’s days together. That Eva had cited  (on her permit card at her hostel) my place as her place of stay for the four upcoming nights at Sheena’s place was not helping matters with me.

The meeting over, Eva and I walked out of the park.
“Hey, come to my place tonight,” I insisted.
She smiled a despicable smile.
“I’m serious.”
“I can’t. I promised to be with her today.”

“How is it that all she has to do is say it while I have to haggle with you to make you come to my place?”
“She lives alone. I’ve spent more nights out with you than with her anyway.”

“Maybe that’s because she was your roommate till very recently. It was her choice to live alone to be able to take up more modelling assignments. She’s not a victim in a big bad city,” I lashed. “And my parents are out on business eternally. I live alone too remember?” I thundered, with restrain in my voice.
“Be reasonable.”

My coldness froze my reply in the throat. As if sensing it, she said, “You know how emotional she is. You are sensible. I have to go.”

“Ok,” I said.

The Metro was just across the road before the park. I cringed at the sight of the speeding vehicles that separated us from it. Eva held out her hand. I withheld mine. We walked across. Gate No: 8.

“Shruthi,” she called out. I kept walking. Down the stairs. “Shruthi!” She called out again. There was silence then. I could no longer make out her footsteps from the scores of others’. Then came a frenzied deluge of her footsteps. My arm was yanked.

“Can’t you hear? When someone calls your name, you are supposed to stop,” her eyes were wide like they became when she stressed a point.

“My ears are open,” I wisecracked.
“Look … I really got to go.”
I shrugged. “Am I stopping you?”

Her eyes narrowed. She turned and fleeted away. I regretted not walking off before her.
The Metro ride back home was hot. Not because the December evening had decided to yield or because of the jam-packed trains. My ears burned. She sticks with Sheena because of her upcoming model status. Hanger on. I thought. But was she?

Eva had a track record as a genuine friend. She had held my hand in hostile situations, hit back at dangerous-looking men’s catcalls with me, lent an ear to my dreams and sorrows and been a vent to my relationship woes … though now in the bewilderment, it struck me how she always took his side in a love tiff. Even in that anger, ending our relationship did not strike me once. 

She did make time to come along with me for the meeting to this far-flung place. But then the gesture was negated by all the faces that she pulled on the way and the absolute unwillingness to talk with a straight face. Her relationship with Rohit had hit a rough patch. Maybe that’s the reason behind her moodiness. How come she expects me to act all mature while acting like a child herself? Maybe I was a little unreasonable (read: insecure). But is emotional security nothing in a relationship? Should one gracefully step aside while one’s best friend reaches out to her emotionally volatile friends? I quite like Sheena myself. Despite having won beauty contest titles and walked the ramp for famous designers at such a young age, she hardly has a blot of airs about her. What is making me act this way? Possessive jealousy?

I punched in a message to Eva as soon as I was out at the exit gates. “I’m sorry for acting immature. But you are no saint either. If you were emotionally charged there are better ways to tell me than making faces and making me feel as if you did a favour by coming with me.” Sent.

I lifted my eyes beyond me, the stress of sewn-together brows gone … And there she stood! At the gates.
Her cellphone interface lit up in her hand. She took a look and smiles. “I haven’t read your message but your face says we are alright now,” Eva smiled, walking closer.

I smiled back. “Right. Now jump into the next train. You better be there at Sheena’s before she comes back in tears.”
“I knew you would understand,” she gave a dazzling smile, squeezed my hand and dashed to the ticket counter.
She didn’t even hug me or spare a moment. Acid thoughts again began permeating my mind. But hey! That’s the last almost empty train she can catch to Sheena’s anyway. I smiled, my head already throbbing thinking of the next days expected squabbles.

A relationship might be just right. The feelings might be very genuine. But sometimes, a little gesture and reaffirmation of love is necessary to keep the fire burning. We are communicative animals. Sometimes silence can become miscommunication between loved ones.


By Barsali Bhattacharya:

My eldest cousin was getting married in less than a month. Consequently my family was on a cleaning spree, trying to get everything in perfect order for the wedding. Our big, old-fashioned, ancestral house was being white washed and emptied of the molding garbage that lay in its various corners. It was while clearing out the attic that I stumbled upon my old red Frisbee, amidst piles of old books, toys and other nick knacks. The chance discovery brought in its wake vivid memories of childhood … that of my failure in every imaginable form of sports and consequently the delightful afternoons in RCGC (Royal Calcutta Golf Club)…

Even today, I never protest when my friends declare me clumsy in sports. It’s a label I had acquired as a toddler. As a kid, my inability to hit the ball with the bat or to take a simple, short-distanced catch had me ostracised from the unisex cricket team formed by my neighbourhood pals. My only recourse was to join my older cousins in their game of badminton on our warm and sunny terrace or the stretch of the road facing our residence. But considering the number of shuttle cocks that I sent flying, with my random and hopeless strokes, into the gutter or some untraceable corner of that nasty neighbourhood Aunty’s garden, I was soon shunned by them as well.

My success in outdoor games was thus modest and mostly limited to those games of Frisbee which I played on the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) grounds.

Growing up in Golf Garden, an upcoming locality in south Calcutta, which lay to the south of Prince Anwar Shah Road, the RCGC grounds lay within the perimeter of our regular evening walk. In those days, the access to the lush green grounds of the oldest golf turf in India was not restricted solely to the members … I spent most of the afternoons of my summer holidays on those grounds and I never went without my frisbee. The frisbee was a safe option for a clumsy player like me. On one hand, its diameter was larger than that of a cricket ball, and thus was easier to grab. On the other hand, it wasn’t as heavy as a football and consequently did not threaten to smash my nose. Being not as light weight as the feather cock, it did not get lost with my random throws. Soon it not only became my favourite game but also the sole one at which I excelled. I heralded myself as the Frisbee champion of my locality and every afternoon dragged my cousins to the Golf club for a game of Fr! isbee.

The grounds were vast and I explored them vastly — particularly after the day’s game was over and my tired playmates refused to throw the Frisbee around, any longer. There were stone benches beneath shady trees, on which I perched myself to savor the fresh air and the twitter of the birds. I loved the fountains that sprang to life suddenly at around 4o’clock everyday to water the grounds. I remember running bare feet on fresh grass and withered leaves… picking up wind-felled flowers, taking them home and preserving them… riding a tractor whose driver chose to be friendly with us… spotting many a jackal hiding in a thick bush, waiting for daylight to disappear…

There was an old gateway into the grounds; at the north eastern corner of the boundary wall, through which we made our way in. It required one to walk past thickets of banyan trees and cow dung plastered walls of mud houses. However, we were not the only ones to visit the grounds for purposes other than playing golf. Senior citizens and health conscious morning walkers and yoga enthusiasts, poets drawing inspiration from its verdant beauty, young artists aspiring to replicate the nodding ‘kash phool’ and the ancient trees that peopled those vast grounds, and besotted lovers, were also to be spotted.

In those days the political parleys between our very own Dadas and Dadis were of a different nature and did not involve building fancy parks in every neighbourhood, as a show of concern. Thus, unfortunately the RCGC grounds served as the only decent playground available to us.

In some of my most random imaginations, the old frisbee served as a kind of transporter, which helped me enter the magical world that lay beyond that ancient entrance. the world which spurred on my day dreams…

It’s been many years since they blocked that ancient entrance… Probably, a few years after I replaced those afternoon frisbee sessions with tution classes.

I left behind my childhood interlude to RCGC… The old red Frisbee alone remained as a relic of those days.


By Nitum Jain:

They met by the Eiffel Tower,
She had her intentions clear.
It’s not working, she told herself,
And slipped off the ring as he watched in fear.

Come back, come home,
We’ll be happy again, screamed his mind.
But lips trembled, arms outstretched,
Yet no words escaped those lips as she looked behind.

I was to come, call me, she thought,
And I’ll run into those arms.
Prove yourself, say it’ll work,
Don’t just watch from afar.

She waited, he waited,
She waited for his words.
But as none came along, not one,
To go forever, she turned.

But far didn’t she go, his words sliced the silence.
“Meet me by the Tower tomorrow; I’ll make it up to you”
No, her mind screamed, “Yes” she said,
As out all sense flew.

She’ll come; he told himself and waited the day next.
A smile graced his lips as she came.
But her words were an icy fire, scorching his mind
Chilling his heart when her lips uttered his name.

He tried with flowers and violins,
He did everything he could.
The cliches rang in her ears,
To his dismay, up she stood.

“Everything is wrong, we aren’t meant to be together”
With a rueful smile she said.
“Maybe someday you will meet someone,
Someone who’ll love you back, till death”

That was the last he saw of her.
She vowed never to look back, never to let herself ruin him again.
But silently, he vowed the opposite;
He’ll get her back and relieve her from her unknown pain.

Years went by in search;
Years went by in hiding;
As years went by, he tired;
As years went by, from his search he retired.

1927, as breeze blew at curls under the bonnet
And her parasol threatened to fly from her hand
She once again set out to the Tower,
Reliving the moment when she took off that engagement band.

As she stood on the top,
Looking back at times, she thought,
I had tried to find love so hard
Yet didn’t recognize it, when love I got.

But it was love not meant to be
And that I am going to firmly believe.
Like every year since that fateful day, with this same resolve,
Clarisse turned to leave.

happy couple

By Naina Gulati:

I shouldn’t have opened that box
In which I left his shiny rocks
And the ring which said “till death do us apart”
It brought back the memories which weren’t bitter from the start
As I closed my eyes
My heart sighed
His face had the same glow
He was so tender & slow
He used to talk like a gentleman
And was envied by other men
After the end of that summer ball
He found me wandering alone in the hall
It all started with that little chat
Never knew what we will end up at
He used to take me to different places and tell their history
While I just used to nod and think about our story
That summer he bent on his knees
And swept me off my feet
For the wedding, everything was set
It was picture perfect
Earlier I just accepted his proposal
But the ring made it all official
I felt now that we are together
This marriage will last forever
We were living happily in a house by the lake
Till I made that careless mistake
While baking the chocolate cake
I wasn’t sure how much time it will take
So I thought I will keep a check on it
But in a while I heard him cry “DARN IT”
As soon as I heard him scream
I ran to him leaving dry clothes in the washing machine
He was standing next to the oven with a fire extinguisher
I had never seen him in so much anger
I felt so careless and had nothing to say
And then suddenly he threw that fire extinguisher my way
The next thing I knew was that I was in bed
And a doctor was sitting next to me, prescribing meds
The doctor told me to be more careful while walking down the stairs
And my husband was trying to show how much he cared
I thought that it was my fault and kept quite
Recovered soon with the help of meds and a healthy diet
After that incident I could feel that he wasn’t the same man
And only treated me well to show others that he’s a gentleman
People told me to leave him
No one understood how much I loved him
But in reality the fairytale illusion blinded me
And his cruelty towards me made me see
The truth which was hard to accept
But I had no other option left
I was tired of acting to be his wife
And it was time for me to live my life
So I packed my bags & picked up my coat
Left him a ‘Goodbye Note’
Before leaving I looked around for memories I could gather
But all I could see were the ashes of ‘happily ever after’.

Image courtesy:

path of life

By Rishika Jalali:

Harder as it gets, the survival seems complicated
My breath holds me inside, the pain seems diluted
The numbness has over powered the sensation,

The sensation which was my expressive interpretation
The anger, the misery breaks me up inside
Takes me by my nerve and forces me to abide
I feel myself as a prisoner of a constant conflict,

The one that wrecks the soul and makes it difficult to inflict
I once thought life would be the way you are
But realization occurs at the eleventh hour

You can guide your lines to be on a path
To realize the reality and end up in a wrath
Not everything ends up in miraculous conditions
Sometimes life does not give you the desired situation.

Image courtesy:


By Shraddha Sankhe:

Green landscapes of the garden

Hath seen many a children play.

There, blossomed the cherry tree

And the lovely spring augmented each day.

Little children with their playful hearts

Hath brought in the lovely flowers.

Which no kingdom could fathom

For only the innocent heart hath such powers.

The innocuous souls hath brought beauty on the platter

Till the Giant entered one day to drive them away.

To him the children feared, could but not flatter.

A selfish Giant was he, who had his day.

With the departure of children

Sadly arrived the harsh winter.

Dressed up the garden in pallid white so

That the trees went off to sleep without a hinter.

When the snowy cloak refused to uplift it’s stay tarry…

The garden was priceless to him, his only home…

The Giant began to ponder, but most, he began to worry,

Could not believe, with children went spring’s last gnome.

Having woken up from his selfish sleep

To open the gates, the Giant waved to call in the kids.

Running they came in and each offered him their love deep.

The children chose and climbed on trees for themselves, the garden amidst.

But one kid, an aura around him, could not so climb

Sympathetic, the Giant helped him up his tree

Grateful, the lil child kissed him on the cheek,

The Giant smiled, sighed, felt very set free.

A century passed but the spring never left

The garden, kept open by the Giant

Who hath grown old and much undefiant.

Glory was back again, never to see him bereft.

A sunny morning the Giant noticed again, the little boy,

The same little kid with aura he loved!

He rushed towards him to greet him, ahoy!

But the little boy, simply smiled, happy and unnerved.

You helped me find glory here, oh lil boy, wise”,

Said the Giant with a tear in his eyes,

The little boy took his hand and said,

“Come, oh dear Giant, I tell you no lies…

I shall take you to my world, a real paradise!”.

The Giant only obliged and followed his way…

The lil children noticed the Giant’s happy head,

And The Giant’s body too, so contently dead…

Under the same tree, at morning of the next day!

Acknowledgement: This poetry is my adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, the classic short story.


By Amar Tejaswi:


In an instant, bright gold stars glued to gleaming red sky draped around Bankim’s running nose. His mucous on her pallu resembled tainted clouds in the evening sky. He scowled at the clouds and the sky and the stars.

“My father gave you this sari. He is such a great man, but I, his son, am nothing.”

He wrenched the pallu out of her hands and hid his bright round face in the red sky. She felt a sudden urge to console him, but didn’t know why he was crying. She wrested her pallu back to reveal his wet swollen face. Now the red sky had more clouds. She looked at him anticipating his grief to ooze out like the tears and the mucous. And it did…

“I am worthless. I am a disgrace to my family. Father was right.”

“Right about what?”

“I am of no use, I have brought shame to my father’s name.”

“No. You didn’t. You have done all that a son can do for his father.”

“Shut up. You have been turning me against my father, I know it, he told me. After everything my father did for your family, this is how you show your gratitude? You have no honour. Step away from me.”

Diamonds of water rolled down her cheek and fell on the shining blue carpet spread beneath her feet.

She looked at the diamonds at her feet. Despite their tiny size, she could see the them clearly. Each diamond exposed a different face, faces withered to different degrees by the sorrows that plagued her life.

Parineeta possessed the gifts of assiduity and diligence (which her husband didn’t) which she put to use to love her husband from the first day of her unexpected marriage. And she loved him, but he never reciprocated. With each passing day, he ebbed away from her like the receding tides of the seas to the east of Bengal. And she expected him to come back to her, like the same tides did each time they receded. Three years she has been waiting for the tides.

Presently, her faces faded away as the carpet soaked up the diamonds. She gathered herself and looked up. He was scurrying away towards the staircase which led to his father’s room. When at the bottom stair, his wife called for him to wait.

“What do you want now?”

“Where are you going?”

“I am going to my father, can’t you see that?”

“And what of your wife?”

“What of her?”

She watched him with earnest eyes, hoping in vain that he would turn and come back to her. The diamonds in her eyes formed again but didn’t fall down. He started climbing the stairs. Her tenacity didn’t let her stand there. She rushed towards him with the hurry of a squirrel. He didn’t bother.

She was equal on footing with him when they were still half way up.


Her startling cry released him from the spiral of thought that was forming in his head. He turned around to find his wife with a dagger in the side of her abdomen. She was in intense pain. He looked down from the railing to find a dark masked man standing diagonally opposite to him. In a moment of fury, Bankim pulled the dagger from its socket in his wife’s abdomen with all the force he could muster and released it. The dagger found its aim.

Bankim rushed to the injured man afraid if he was dead. The floor where the killer lay still was red with his blood and the dagger firmly holding its position in his liver.

“Who sent you to kill my father? Tell me at once! Who sent you?”

Bankim’s bellow astounded the dying man. He stared back at Bankim’s bright round face.

“Your father sent me to kill you.”

On the staircase, there were more diamonds. The red sky grew darker and the stars vanished, but the tainted clouds remained.


By Swaruparani Sahu:

Standing in the rain, but the raindrops do not drench my body

Amongst a crowd, no one can hear when I shout I’ve nobody;

Travelling on the path I’ve already trodden, yet I feel I’m lost

Neither a fairytale could amaze me nor a story of a ghost;

Laughing out loud, even with a saddened heart

With smiles all the way on my face when I’m hurt;

Giving not a clue to anyone when I’m angry

And all the bitter memories of life I prefer to bury;

Remaining indifferent when people are ignorant of my emotions

I’m tired of giving each of them my explanations;

Gaping at those strange people disappointingly

But the worst is when my dear ones can’t guess my reasons of melancholy…



By Amrita Garg:

I search within, search the depths,
I’m finding answers to all those questions,
Which haunt me in my waking hours,
And come back when i sleep.

Life has given me so much,
But then, it has taken away even more
It has left me stranded, bent,
Trying to gather the few left-over pieces.

These pieces have to form a picture,
Which will help me understand, maybe,
Who I am supposed to be,
Where my life is destined to go.

One moment i see light-warm, inviting,
And it beckons me with promises,
Of showing me the path i have to take,
Of guiding me to my final destination.

I move forward, hope glowing in my heart,
But the light is starting to fade,
Once again I stand enveloped in darkness,
Trying to banish these doubts and fears.

Life is passing, as it always does,
But I seem to have come to a standstill,
Not knowing how to proceed,
Lost, while trying to find my way.

I smell the rain drops and the flowers,
I hear the soft rustle of the pages of a book,
I hear the music of angels,
I see the much-loved faces around me.

That is when i know all is not lost,
I have found myself in these things,
Because they are an indestructible part of me,
I find myself defined in these.

The bright lights of the stage beckon,
My pen is waiting for me,
The music is still there in my ears,
And the soft rain is adding to the magic.

I realize that this is what I want,
A peaceful, beautiful life with a touch of drama,
A mystical land of angels and faeries,
A land of love, music and friends..



By Amrita Garg:

Every moment, every hour, every day,
For no fault of theirs,
Millions of people out there,

Become victims of a communal fire.

When will we learn to respect,
Every man as a man?
Not caring what religion he belongs to
Not caring about his colour, cast or clan.

Why does the world stand divided,
By such petty man-made barriers?
They prevent people from coming together,
Living in harmony, much happier.

Only once before burning someone’s house
Just because he’s a Muslim or a Hindu,
THINK – is is his fault, his crime?
That he’s not of the same faith as you?

Religion should give peace and hope to hearts,
Give you a better way of life,
NOT become a reason to kill innocents,
NOT a reason for so much strife.

We have to do something before it’s too late,

Break down these mental blocks,
Change the way, we and people around us think,
Or hark! Impending doom knocks!



Read on as Shruthi Venukumar expresses her grief on the growing trend of killing for honour in India.

She was brought into this world, riding on her mother’s pain,
Nine months of nourishment behind her, a lifetime of it ahead.
Nine months of being a burden to becoming a bundle of joy.
As she blossoms, along with food, is fed into her…
Fairytales of handsome princes, beautiful princesses … eternal love … topped with an “And they lived happily ever after!”
Alas, as she enters maidenhood and finds love,
In her Prince Charming, the other line of eternal love in her life – the family-
Vitiates into eternal hatred.

And they do not live happily ever after.
They walk into a sunset so bloody that the colour turns into a morbid black.
She is cut off …
Cut off from the family, that was promised to be an eternal ocean of love.
Cut off into pieces.
Culled like a piece of meat.
Bloodshed in the name of blood.
Killed in cold blood, often by her own blood brothers and blood mother …
For finding love in forbidden folds fondly but firmly falling into castes, Gotras …
Or simply for failing to fill into family wishes.

A 19 year old girl tortured for hours along with the one she thought she would share her life,
Electrocuted, sharing death with him …. while the neighbours heard muted.
They called it a family affair.
It’s all in the family.
It’s all over the papers.
Girls in the rural countryside forced to drink to their death.
A cocktail of pesticide.
Apparently affirming that suicide is the highest form of repentance.
A budding journalist allegedly murdered for looking for love beneath THE caste.
Along with her died her unborn – a line of lineage eliminated.
The matter gets no follow-up.
And dies an unnatural death – much like the girl.
Morbid murder deal running across family affiliation …
Men conspiring to put an end to each other’s “misery” … killing off each other’s erring sisters.

Honour killing indeed.
Killing of honour.
Failure to honour the sacrosanct promise…
Made to a nascent child – a life that is a safety net and a blanket of love – under a different premise.
Disowning one’s blood from a loyalty stemming towards the “society” with a force sallying.
Callously turning the page on a line of thought that in all simplicity states …
That society is but the collective individual.
And not a hollow portal for false pride.
Human sacrifice at the altar of Khap Panchayats…
In the holy name of retaining purity of descent.
A mindset down the camber of ascent.

Little did I know that our proud adaptability,
Would lean leniently towards the chaffs of Talibanisation.
The very same Taliban that has daggers drawn chopping off the noses of young wives,
For defying or decrying abusive “bitter” halves.
Or gladly maims women,
For showing a little toe outside the Hijab.

The real culprit?
Rogue laws running proudly parallel to the laws of the land.
Rogue laws that keep ignorance of science…
Delinking genes from clannish blood.
Heavily fed on a diet of figs, nourished by the figment
Of imagination, laid out on a bed of myth.
Young “progressive” politicos echoing the slimy salvos of Kangaroo Courts,
Singling out certain mutants of the elders to pay respects and a political ear to.

Deterrents stand ignored and insulted.
Be it education, awareness or the proposed chokehold of laws.
Or even migration to shores alien.
Crossing Over but with a finger and thumb clamped onto the medieval cart of honour slights.

The crying need of the hour …
Routing out the medieval mindset of the past…
Within the post-modern man,
With injections of rationality and humanity.
Across varying doses of potency.

When they talked of emotional detachment from loved ones,
Seldom would the ancient saints have thought,
That the manifestation of detachment would be in so gruesome a manner.

She is brought into this world riding on her mother’s pain.
She is sent away from this world paying for the pain,
In leaps and bounds.


By Aparajita Paul:

On the outskirts of Bethlehem, just off the main Jerusalem-Hebron road, sits Camp Aida–a Palestinian refugee camp built by UNRWA in 1967. It’s a small camp, about 2,300 people in all, and from the main road it appears less impoverished than the large camps in Gaza or elsewhere in the West Bank. Within Camp Aida, however, there are the usual telltale signs of a refugee camp: narrow dirt lanes, sewage flowing in open gutters, and small children darting to and fro.

This is where Samaira grew up. She is now 32, has a husband and two children of her own. She lives in a shabby apartment on the outskirts of Gaza.

She is now living a perfect life. She does listen to the sounds of those Israeli tanks rumbling or the marching of the Israeli troops or the occasional sound of a bomb here and there, killing a few, but destroying the lives of many, forever. But now she is used to it. She just prays that her children never go through what she went through in her childhood.

Her suffering is long, painful, and continuous, especially in the last decade where life became very difficult and full of dangers every step of the road. Simply, the human being’s life is unsecured and in danger even inside his own home, especially for them as residents of area “C” which is under full Israeli military control.

During the first Intifada, Samaira was riding her bicycle and going back home. Where Israeli soldiers stopped her and interrogated her. Then they ordered her to climb a high voltage power post and take down a Palestinian flag from the top of that post. She refused to do so because of her incapability of climbing the post and because of the danger the high voltage might impose on her life. At that point all the soldiers started beating her. One of them started pulling her from her hair with her face downward and kept pulling toward their armed vehicle. During that, a sharp object hit her in the left side of her face, causing a deep long cut. She started bleeding and lost a lot of blood which covered her face, head and clothes. The soldiers left her alone on the road side after half an hour of continuous bleeding under a hot sun. Her father then found her at midnight and took her home.

Samaira’s mother was abducted and raped. They were all having breakfast one morning in their one bedroom house in Gaza when it happened. Samaira was 12 then, the eldest out of her three siblings. They come, those beasts in armour, their faces covered with a black cloth, that hungry look on their faces. They knocked on the door. Samaira’s youngest brother opened it. They asked for their father. He wasn’t at home. They entered, pushed the children away, picked up their mother and went off. She struggled, she kicked and punched but to no avail. Samaira stared and stared. Not comprehending what was happening. Her little brother’s and sisters were screaming for their mother. But they had gone, not knowing how many shattered souls they left behind.

Her father? Well he was a member of the Hamas. Having seen what happened to his wife, he joined the Hamas militia. ‘Your father is a terrorist’, is what her friends used to say. ‘He has flouted the will of Allah.’ But then, where was Allah when they took her mother? When they bombed their ancient house in Jerusalem, killing all of her numerous aunts and uncles and all of her millions of cousins? Where was Allah then? Did he go away from Palestine when those animals broke the mosque?

Her father used to come home everyday with more and more wrinkles on his face. Was he growing old? They had been hearing about the troubled times outside. There was going to be a war. But weren’t they already waging a war? A war against those dirty men who took her mother away? A war against Israel? A war against those white officers who her father often abused? A war against life, against survival?

And then one day, he went out in the morning, but never returned. Samaira didn’t even bother to go and look for him because she knew she couldn’t risk the lives of her brother’s and sister’s who were now her responsibility. Thats when the UNRWA officers came. Samaira’s father had said they were bad men. But they seemed pretty nice as they took her and her siblings to their camp.

By that time she knew that their plight as refugees, their poverty, was the result of a great injustice that had been done to Palestinians. The Israelis had come as colonists, forced them out of their villages, and had taken their land. The same Israeli army that she saw every day in front of her camp had committed crimes, whick they could never be forgiven for. Her parents deserved to still be there, living with them, in their village. They all deserved proper education, a proper house, and proper food and water.

This small story, is half fiction, half reality. One wonders about the stories of the future where the Palestinians are left with Hamas sharia-lite or worse, some kind of utterly dysfunctional government which sees every problem as something car bombs and gunfire can solve. Which in and of itself is fine if that’s the destiny they’ve chosen. But who will you blame then?

They, as a matter of fact, all Palestinians deserve to dream. They deserve a life without misery, without suffering, without this half century long ongoing genocide.

And to those who are trying to underestimate the seriousness of the impact of starvation, they should be more careful as the next meal for the starving Palestinian, may be his own flesh and blood.


Irfan Mohamed:

The pen and ink lie beside me. Looking at it, a long sudden spell of anger springs up from nowhere. I am a journalist GODDAMNIT! Ach! The dislike grows, dislike for my profession, for humanity, for religion. But I need an ear, a vent. Lo! Here you are, Here – my story. Dry wet tears still laze under my eyelids. It feels like when hope is far off, but sure, but you can’t be patient enough to wait for it to get close. It seems like I am just out of a nightmare, a close death call. Given these situations, writers may say, “He laughed at the face of death”, but a survivor like me can only say “I pained throughout”. It takes someone to sense it, only to understand how it is to have hopes snatched away and being asked to be forcibly reborn.

It was a cold Wednesday night; at around 8:00 pm. Stress from work had kept me low all through the end of evening. Don’t know why, but I was all gloomy that day. Maybe Preetam must’ve pulled a bad joke, maybe he didn’t. I keep forgetting with that migraine in my head. But, warmth spread as Leopold Cafe & Bar spanned out right across the front, just like a starved man finding food close by. An involuntary smile lit my face. I was meeting Kate and Clemency today. It was fun, having foreigners around your place. They always give this empty stare at anything traditional or Indian, cause according to them, the customs here, seems to be “Pretty much off the hook”. But hey, these French women were picking up pretty fast. Kate’s betting all her odds into writing a script for the local Pantheon Theatre. She’s planning a comedy where she falls in love with a man with a moustache. Clemency’s bizarre plan of filming the lifestyle of the local hawkers was going on pretty much well too. The talk sure was pumping. I felt better from whatever had pulled me down. The beer and the hot food that was being mercilessly slaughtered kept pushing up my good spirits. Kate seems to be speaking Hindi very well, even though her French accent mixed Hindi made it sound like someone having a fizz bottle stuck in their throat. All the fuzzy wuzzy absent phonetics. The clock ticked by as Clemency came up more bizarre and fun ideas.

The night dragged on. At one instance, out of the corner of my eye a strange metal flashed. Turning a little I caught sight of a man resembling Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Carribean. A proper second look wiped out the sudden risen excitement of the prospect of having him here in Mumbai. Poosh, I exclaimed and this went on to trigger another round of talks about Hollywood that eventually went with more beer. We would have scaled Brad Pitt’s present assets if it were not for the sharp sudden sting that took me by surprise. A sudden spasm of pain spread all over my leg. My trousers had been torn apart at the shin, by a blade that had flown off from the nearest table. Looking back, Johnny Depp had risen violently, and removed from nowhere the metal that had caught my eye — an elegant Anti-Kalashnikov.

A wave of panic and urgency took over the place. I didn’t like the idea of being the subject of the many stories that I write. Would I live to read my story, in case there were any … was what flashed in my mind. Two men, the other one had routed off from the fag end of the hall, came forward and rounded up the residents of the shop into a huddle in the centre of the café. Things obediently settled with a sheet of silence following it. Straining a little, I could hear gunshots from outside. Something was wrong, very wrong … was what I felt. Hair stood at the back of my neck, and an alert mode set in my body unconsciously. I propped myself against the wall, still clutching my leg that bled on and on. The cut was a little deep and it probably needed stitches. Funnily the pain didn’t bother much, with all the excitement around. The situation had obviously taken an upper hand. People started growing tense and suddenly someone ran across the room. The gunmen, quicker than their own impulse, took them down mercilessly, firing at them at point blank. That outraged all of us sitting by. Seeing someone shot down right in front of your eyes is not what you see every day, and imposing unacceptable commands is not what you want to be doing too. Anger flared up. Anger at the forced dictatorial law imposed here. The younger of the two, started to speak in English with a deep accent, placing him somewhere north of India. He asked for Britons or Americans among us. None dared nod. They all kept still. Then yet again, someone from the other end created another sudden fit of stupidity. Everyone got distracted and started looking the other way. The short fat lady who ran behind the counter was hit midway on her head with the back of the rifle. She was knocked off cold and lay in an unplaced heap next to a table. The gunmen who smacked her, had to lean a little forward to hit her, doing which, he lost his balance and toppled forward. This gave me a tiny window of escape onto the far back. Turning back, I dashed across the room. As I reached the door, I heard simultaneous gun shots; each of the two men had pulled the trigger in anxiety. I suddenly felt a searing pain on my chest and a moment later pain in my leg.

I kept half running, half limping without turning back. The pain in my chest mounted and I couldn’t take it much longer. My vision got dizzy, my legs weak and most of all, my instincts dull. All I remember next was falling into a narrow street and being picked up by someone who had carried me across his shoulders to a limo. And then my memory went to standby.

Waking up after what seemed like ages, I found myself in a local government hospital. The fetor around jump started my senses leading off all the drowsiness away. It took me a minute to realize that I was the only person who made it out from the café, alive! Chills ran down my spine. The aspect itself was horrifying. There were many around, from what I seemed to learn, from attacks at different spots over Mumbai. People were shouting in pain, weeping in front of dead ones, and a few who frantically searched in vain for missing ones. My head felt heavy and something tickled my lower right leg. Surprisingly the tickle came from within the leg and not on it. I stretched out my hand underneath the sheet to scratch it only to find something wrong. Shocked I sat up straight. Removing my sheets away, I saw my fate. I saw my written dominating destiny. There lay a broken stub below my waist at the place where my leg used to be. I cried, cried in pain, cried in anger, cried in vain. It took me a long while to swallow that I would remain a cripple all through the rest of my life. The doctors had no option other than to remove it. The initial blade cut started off the bleeding, the second dislodged bullet aimed at my leg, had caused severe internal bleeding and gangrene.

“We had to remove it, so that you would still have a chance to survive,” they said. It had been a day since the incident and yet, no one had come to find me, neither my parents nor my friends. I was let alone among all the other lonely bodies around awaiting company.

All through the day, the TV displayed news of the ongoing Siege of Mumbai. A total of 10 gunmen had been dispatched in groups of two, to different spots in Mumbai, in order to keep hostage, killing people and terrorize more.

I stuck to bed for a few days until my co worker narrowed down my address and paid me a visit. I still have migrane on the left of my head. I would have slept, cried or ignored the heavy injustice and pain of what had happened to me, but the day didn’t seem to end. Today morning, I grabbed the nearest paper and shuffled it for the news. The terrors of the terror strike didn’t seem sufficient enough to cover more than the first page. The local dailies listed out the common politicians and all their nonsense. A toll on the death rate was also given next to it, followed by a long list of the bereaved. The terror strike had been intense killing around 81 people so far. The spots had not been secured yet and the confusion was still on. As I went on reading the report and the long list, hoping I wouldn’t come across someone I knew, something peculiar struck me. The 23rd name of the list spelled out as

GAYATHRI Krishna, 29, Journalist.

I rechecked the list on top, rechecked the name, and dropped the paper in shock. I was here, live, healthy and breathing. It was preposterous. It came up on me as a soup of emotions. Personally I felt ashamed, being a journalist myself, that mistakes like these can happen. I felt angry too, the stupidity of the government could not be overlooked. But somehow all these vanished as soon as they had come. Somehow they all didn’t matter. The situation of finding oneself right in the middle of a hostage situation, risking life to save it and finally scraping through with half a pair of legs, somehow shadowed this petty issue.

I was let down. I was lost. Lost hope in humanity, in the shameless government, in religion.

It is sad that I don’t understand the concept of terrorism. Every religion, every one of it, has based its lifestyle on peace and brotherhood. But, they say, we terrorize people in order to attain peace. An irony isn’t it. Bloodshed to brotherhood, violence to parley. Is this life, this right that we are said to own, be allowed to be snatched away mercilessly? I might ask death the same question, but apparently I cannot. What is the root cause of uneasiness? Of the desire to let others suffer? The vain to inflict non-humanitarian pain? Why the unrest in the first place? Do we individuals bother to take small steps to help prevent terror or have we left it at the hands of someone else, someone else who doesn’t weep or worry when your loved one is dead in a blast? All these questions need an answer, they need a new power. The call has already been made, people are only to pick it up and answer. Will you be the India that laughs at the face of terror?

Tanaya Singh:

I am the king on the white side of the checked terrain,

heard they have started loving my board more with each passing day….

so I went out to get updated about the recent games.

I have fifteen people with me, and the black king has got the same….

I went to each one and this is what they had to say….

“Viswanathan Anand is the hero”, said my queen,

With a number of awards stacked up in a pile….

He was the first Indian grandmaster at the age of nineteen

Since 25 year, he has won laurels for the country wherever he has been.

The man is the world chess champion in his very own style.

“Chess is like war on a board” says my knight,

By defeating Anand, Krishnan Sasikiran stirred the news into flares.
He got the Arjuna award for his memorable fights….

Coached by his father, he has been playing since nine with all his might,

to be ranked second among the best Indian players.

Then I saw my rook beaming with ecstatic pride,

“do you know Anubhav Tuknayat?” he asked,

This seven year old Chandigarh boy is already flowing with the tide….

Being the youngest sponsored player of the country ready for the ride,

he has inspired many others who are waiting to be unmasked.

Koneru Humpy was the lady of the day,

for my bishops who were blithely praising women power.

In 1999, she was Asia’s youngest international women master they say,

She is an emblem of pride and the nation’s glorious ray.

Four world champion trophies and a lot more flock up her victory’s tower.

Finally I went to a group of my pawns so very loyal,

and we discussed some less known facts about our game and its craze.

Like “shatranj” is the game of kings’ coz earlier it was played only by the royals,

Like “checkmate” comes from the word “shah mat” meaning defeat of the king’s toil,

And they said, “The Pawns are the soul of the game” according to an old known phrase….


Trishla Gupta: (this is not a work of fiction)

‘In youth the days are short and the years are long; in old age the years are short and the days long’.

Last week I embarked on my annual visit to my naani’s. I hadn’t seen her for over a year and though I knew that she couldn’t hear properly and also had a severe knee problem I didn’t think that it was serious enough to have any impact on the days which we were going to spend together. So I sat happily in the bus which was going to take to my destination and hummed soft melodies while we passed the lush green fields and villages of Uttar Pradesh, all the time thinking of how I was going to surprise her and the food that she would be busy preparing for me, the places which I would visit with her……

As soon as I reached, I rushed inside looking everywhere for that welcome that I had been dreaming of all through my journey. I searched for her everywhere in the living area, kitchen, and balcony, all places that I had thought she would be in and finally I reached her bedroom. My legs skidded to a halt and my heart sank. Age had caught up with naani. She was lying on the bed, but it seemed as if it were her ghost lying down. She had shrunk to half, her face was pale, and her hair tied in an untidy bun but worst of all she didn’t even realize that I had come. It took me half an hour to shake her out of her stupor and make her aware of my presence. I stared in shock at the house which had once been an estate fit for any king with huge lawns inhabited by tall Deodar and pine trees, flowers of a hundred varieties and all fruits and vegetables grown in the fields itself. Now all I could see were barren fields, unkempt lawns and dust shining on the furniture. When earlier no meal was complete without at least four vegetables, rice, chapattis and salad, today nani and I had a humble meal of buttered toast. There was no one to cook the food….

At night nani would tell me, with tears in her eyes, stories of how when she was young the house would be full of people, their laughter would echo in all the rooms. There would always be the hustle and bustle of people moving in and out and during festivals the kitchen would also fall short of the sweets that would be prepared at home. Now, she was the sole inhabitant, meeting some friends once in six months, her daughters visiting her for a week or so every year and on festivals she would have a mithai box sent to her from someone or the other, but otherwise it was just her with her memories.

If you thought that I have portrayed a picture depressing enough and that things cannot get worse than this, so I should move onto some light talk, let me tell you I have more to say. In the subsequent days that I stayed, nani took me with her to visit a few of her old friends and there I saw that though the situation wasn’t as bad, it was pretty heart wrenching. People who in their prime were High Court judges and barristers were now hobbling about with swollen feet, running from pillar to post to collect their pension, to fight against corrupt companies, to claim money that is rightfully theirs ,but after sometime exhausted and disheartened they would realize the futility of their actions.

Friends my purpose with this article is not to force you to show sympathy with my grandmother but to give you a personal picture of the condition of the aged in our country. Since the system of living with children is slowly finishing with the advent of nuclear families more and more of our grandparents are spending their last years fighting loneliness among their other ailments. We need to take collective responsibility to ensure that we are a support system to those people who helped us stand on our feet. We need to make our policies and laws such that they are a help and relief to the elderly not a worry. We need to have a system where if they need to say go to the court to collect papers, an old lady who cannot climb more than two steps does not need to climb a flight of stairs but the papers are brought to her. By the ‘we’ I mean everybody-the government, the judicial system, the private companies, the security and most importantly US-the people for whom they sacrificed a lot of their best years, for whom they spent sleepless nights worrying of their future, for whom they are willing to spend their last years in isolation so that they are not a hindrance to our dreams and our life…

We do owe a lot to them and I think the least we can do is to take out a few moments out of our busy life for the people who made us what we are today.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

Rohit Mamgain:

‘n death?’ she asked
voluntary death is good…
‘but it hurts bad’
death never hurt anyone…its de life

before it… life in pictures…
pictures you always stare blankly
for answers or for more questions
it may be…

n hoping that it ll come back
to you by only looking…
or in texts, letters, poems, literature…
postcards, from all over…

scripts….’movie scripts?’ that’s where you
get your emotions from…
until you make familiar with them… so
movies that u come out feeling

were made out of your
vulnerabilities…. your miseries…
re familiarity’ brood
‘songs?’ i remember one

about dying young
in an immaculate desolation…
(yes! only desolation or melancholy
or related words
can be immaculate…)

cowboys with ropes… to lariat
the young man… you knw de purpose!
‘same purpose…’

n de insolent thing follows up when
they ask your last wish…with scuttles…
being filled for morning wash…
over flowing… once ladies meet..

n with cattle in de distance….
going further…
but they ‘re already granting it…

i looked up at de clock…
n around
1:30 am…. n bar is alive
later we were searching for

de way out… it was de same
door we got in… but somehow,
it looked different…
beer? or was it her?

or was it de death? or just me
after too much of beer…
n too much of her…
n too full of death…?

The writer is a correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz. A student of Delhi University, coming from Sikkim, he believes that all his experiences in life are revisited through his poems.

Suraj Singh:

Some shadows light up,
When lightning strikes.
Some wounds show up,
In past’s disguise.

I sit in the night’s comfort,
And watch the shadows in dark.
And then I hear a voice inside,
And then this wound is stark.

The mood is slightly blue,
Slight is this pain.
But moisture is in the air,
Slightly more is the pain.

No tear is in my eye,
Quite often do they show them.
Its not because of restraint,
It just doesn’t deserve them.

Content to loose contentment,
I rest in restlessness.
Trying to take it as easy as I can,
I bear my own uneasiness.

Tanaya Singh:

I sometimes go to sleep,

with the fear that I shall sweep,

into the same swampy lake,

of thoughts that keep me awake.

My mind has wandered away like this,

many times into doom or bliss.

But today it is lost like never before,

I look at the clock, its quarter past four.

I know somebody is waiting for me,

I had promised to meet him at three.

But I won’t be able to go today,

“I’m sorry”, this is all I can say.

Please remember that you’ll always be,

the centre of my universe.

For now, my soul is not with me,

you can be angry….you are free to curse.

Walking on this nameless street,

I wonder what could it be….

that I have been searching for all day.

A left or a right….which one’s the correct way.

A twist, a turn, a corner and a lane….

well….is this the way I came??

A phase, a vein, a gush of blood and a maze….

did I just escape a very piercing gaze??

It’s already dark…but I’m not afraid,

is this really me or someone else….?

By now I know you might have gone….

I’ll meet you tomorrow for sure, at dawn.

I need to rush back home…

I am all tired and worn.

But where shall I get a cab,

I’m so bad at directions….I need a map.

What if I never find the right key….?

What if I never am what I wanna be??

It was this fatal thought that made me cringe….

feels like I am falling and I don’t have a hinge.

All of a sudden I woke up with a start,

I am glad I escaped before the bitter part.

Here, there and everywhere,

I now know this was the everlasting search of nowhere.

Rohit Mamgain:

He twitched at his tie…
Like a queen regnant…
Unhappy at his wife’s work…

Wife… she talked herself clean…

As it shouldn’t have been… big loops
Knot was falling aside…
Big for those collars…
It was ‘okie’ for a man coming out of bar…
But that was last night…
Morning… it was a plane to go to…

He had already miffed about the color…
Twice that morning…

His wife had been watching…
Now him or then his reflection….
As they both did the same
But with a lil difference….

Before she knew
He was ready with his suitcase…

Completely missing the hug in de morning mess…
Only lookin’ back to confirm de lock’ key code

The Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Dubai to Mangalore
Crashed at 6:30 a.m. local time,
An Air India spokesman said….
166 on board…all feared dead…

Only if he knew
He wouldn’t complain about his tie
Of all the things…

Tanaya Singh:

It’s very dark….

and I am all alone.

I look around…

but there’s nobody known.

It’s been raining hard for a while,

wish the downpour would stop now.

Was it a tear that rolled down my cheek?

Or a raindrop that tumbled down the peak?

I am walking along….

but where should I go.

Every turn I take….

has a new way to show.

But this time when I turn around….

I find a shimmering pillar of dazzling lights….

Pure, sublime and effulgent it awaits….

Emerging from the impervious heights.

It is opulent with all my dreams….

I know this from the splendorous glow.

I can see that it’s moving away….

I take a step but I am afraid I’ll sway.

Can somebody help me cross this barrier….?

And guide me to this awesome place….?

To be there is all I wish….

Coz this search took a very long race.

I know it’s only my soul….

that can take me where I wanna go.

I’ll tell you what happiness is….

when I reach the place I earnestly miss.

Balakrishnan Savitha:

I read a quote recently, “A Pen is mightier than a Sword”. Thus, the idea to wield a pen took its inception in my mind and I felt that the perfect moment to begin the work was right now. I held the pen near my hand only to realize it had Black ink. I wanted a pen which had Blue ink. I went into my study and searched for a blue ink pen, but all my efforts were in vain. From the topmost shelf to the drawer in the bottom, there was no sign of a blue ink pen.

Realizing that my efforts indoors dint suffice, I went to the nearest stationary shop in my quest for a blue ink pen, the mighty weapon. ”Stock is out” is what the store man chirped to me. Tired and seeking solace, my next destination was a temple. I wanted to invoke God’s blessings before beginning my new venture -writing. I stepped out of the temple after praying and offering coconuts. I roamed the nearby streets in search of my weapon but to no avail. Being thirsty and bereft of any energy I went into a restaurant to quench my thirst and relax for a while.

I summoned an auto and was on my way back when I discovered a Sale going on. Being a shopping freak I went and splurged. You can understand the capacity women have to spend, especially when they are depressed. With a bag full of clothes and a heavy heart I slowly consoled myself and returned home.

In a few minutes my son returned from school and with all the energy I had left, I searched his bag to find a blue ink pen only to find its ink was over. My day’s ordeal was complete and my energy completely drained. Finally in the middle of the night an idea struck me. I got up and checked my husband’s shirt pocket to search for a blue ink pen. As I moved about the house I saw a shadow lurking in the dark, I shrieked waking not only my neighbours but also the sleeping watchman. The shadow was that of a thief who was eventually caught and the officer who caught him gave me a gift for being alert, would you believe what the gift was? ”A Blue ink Pen”. My Mightiest Weapon, isn’t it?

Tanaya Singh:

I got up this morning and I felt so free….

Last night I thought that the world was scarred,

the things they said seemed so real to me.

Nobody’s wrong; all of us flow with the lee.

In spite of the phrase that has all of us tagged,

I got up this morning and I felt so free.

“Be rich or die trying” is the phrase for me and thee

but it’s not just money that needs to be bagged.

The things they said seemed so real to me.

With the hope of earning a pal over a cup of tea

and the desire of fulfilling the dreams I once had

I got up this morning and I felt so free

Try being rich with honour and love, you see….

money will definitely be there if you want it so bad.

The things they said seemed so real to me

Initially I feared that gold was the only key.

Later I realised; there are a many other richer things to be had.

I got up this morning and I felt so free,

the things they said seemed so real to me.

P.S.:- this is a form of poetry called VILLANELLE

A Villanelle is a nineteen-line poem consisting of a very specific rhyming scheme: aba aba aba aba aba abaa.

The first and the third lines in the first stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the poem, and appear together in the last two lines.

Sign In

Don't want to log in right now? Submit here.