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Gokarna

Everything about the temple was in a state of decay- had Vaibhavi slipped on the corroded stairs leading to the lake she would have certainly broken her jaw. The cement floors had sharp cracks that could easily cut someone’s heel, ugly creepers protruded through the gaps between the black stone walls, even the divine idols were covered in torn rags and dry flowers. Strangely, Vaibhavi had hoped this would be a welcome break from her family but this location had only reminded her of her disintegrating marriage.

The priest deliberately made a guttural sound to bring Vaibhavi back to her senses. She blinked her eyes twice and heard him recite his shlokas without any change in her expression. Then she recited the same, pouring milk on the miniature idol of Lord Shiva. After about an hour the puja was completed and Vaibhavi threw all the milk and the flowers into the lake (this time climbing the stairs more cautiously). The priest got up, sorted his white dhoti and walked towards the temple.

“This will cure my son?”, Vaibhavi asked with a hint of suspicion.

The priest turned around, put some ash in her wet palm and smiled.

“Whatever is best for him, will happen”, he said. He seemed to be half Vaibhavi’s age but he had a deep and soothing voice, courtesy of reciting the vedas every morning at the crack of dawn.

“You know”, she said rubbing her fingers in the ash of her palm, “We have taken him to the best doctors in the world, we spent a lot of money on his treatment”.

The priest looked into the cooper plate in his hand, nodding at her words. Vaibhavi looked at him in ridicule, this was a young man with a bald head, did she expect him to have all the answers?

“Did it work?”, he asked looking at her mocking face.

Vaibhavi shook her head slightly and salty tears flug down from her eyes. She wipped them immediately, she wasn’t one to show vulnerability.

“I have tried everything- science, medicine, ayurveda”, she whispered, “I also took him to a witch”.

“What is written”, he said, his words barely audible over the loud bells, “will happen”.

“I want him to be free”, she said.

“No”, the priest’s voice said echoing around the halls of the temple, “You want to be free. Of him”.

My first attempt at a short story, feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!

The Heartfelt Letter

To everyone born after the 2000s

Hey Jude,

When I was a kid my day began with watching Pokemon and yours probably begins with checking your facebook notifications. I would brush my teeth for 20 minutes just so I could stand in front of the bathroom mirror in my comfortable pajamas and day-dream about being a Powerpuff Girl. You might be using the latest toothpaste which solves 103 problems of your mouth but you don’t even have 3 seconds to rub it on your teeth. Then my father would give me a bucket of hot water and he would put in his hand in first to check if it was the right temperature. You might be having an electric water heater and all. Maybe that’s why your father doesn’t know what time you wake up in the morning. I would quietly bath for half an hour enjoying the warm water on my skin. You stand under the cold shower only for 5 minutes, in my terms that’s not bathing.

I would come out and put on my school uniform, a tacky dark blue pinaform that could give anyone an eye-sore. You might be wearing one of those designer uniforms that we see today only in unrealistic movies about school life. (Spoilers: Real life teachers are NEVER as hot as the ones on screen). I would tie my long black wavy hair in two plaits, even after folding them in half they still used to come lower than my shoulder. The girls in your class probably come to school with feathers in their unnatural red hair (don’t even get me started with the make-up). I would wear an anklet too, because I liked it. Not because I wanted to impress some guy with it. In my days women used to love themselves. In your times all women might be suffering from inferiority complexes and other mental disorders that I didn’t even know existed.

I would pack my Hannah Montana bag with heavy books, you might just be carrying your Ipad to school. I would come out in the living room where my mother would be standing near the dining table. She would give me a warm glass of milk and an infectious smile. She would put my breakfast in a small plate in the shape of an apple while I made faces and drank the milk. When was the last time you saw your mother Jude? A week ago? I’m sure her company will go bankrupt if she misses a single business trip. My mother sit down asking me whether I had put everything in my bag. I would ravish the hot food and ask for more. Does your mother even know how to cook?

Everytime I finished eating I had an unhygenic habit of rubbing my hands on my skirt instead of washing them. But on those rare occasions when I remembered to wash them I would find her standing behind me. “Very good”, she said, her voice still rings in my ear. How is your mother’s voice Jude? Do you atleast get to hear it on your flashy iphone?

I would walk to school with my best friend. In those days there was a concept of ‘best friend’. It didn’t matter if they wore H&M or not. Now you probably choose your friends based on the cars they arrive in at school. On the way we would exchange Barbie stickers and the temporary tattoos we got free with bubblegum. You guys probably exchange cigarettes. We talked about what we had for breakfast and what we brought for lunch. You guys might be talking about unmentionable subjects.

Our classroom was noisy and crowded, filled with wooden benches which had names scribbled on them with a geometric compass, flooded with colorful charts of maps and stories. Your classroom might be black, white and grey covered on all sides with touchscreen televisions. The teacher would enter class and we would all stand out of respect and greet her. You might be referring to your teachers using just their first names or something worse. We used to study for exams, we used to work hard because we wanted to get into a good college. Jude, you don’t study because you know your father can throw a wad of cash and get you into Harvard.

In the evening I would get back home and my elder brother would help me with my homework. Jude, did your sister return from the party she went to last night? After a while Dad would come back from work and we would all sit together and have dinner. When was the last time your entire family had dinner together? Dad would ask me and my brother about school and we would give honest replies. Do you keep secrets from your parents Jude? You shouldn’t. We only went to restaurants on special occasions, my mother’s food was better than the mouth-watering delicacies served in any hotel in Mumbai. How does your servant’s food taste Jude? You to have an eating disorder?

After dinner mom would wash the dishes, broom the living room and my dad and brother would lay down the mattresses. Then all four of us would lie down next to each other, me next to mom and talk about everything under the sun. Sometimes my father would compliment my mother, but in those days I was too young to notice. Do your parents even talk to each other Jude? The talk would go on and on until I drifted into sleep. Then my father would sense that I had stopped talking and motion everyone to stay quiet. My mom would lovingly move her fingers in my hair, gently pull me closer and kiss my forehead. I would put my arms around her belly and slip away in a world of dreams. Do you have dreams Jude? Do you dream of making your parents proud?

-Someone from the 90’s.

10 reasons why my Mom is awesome

Psychology says that children try to do all the things that they believe would have rescued their parents. I cannot express how painfully true this theory is. Without realizing, I have been working hard at my studies, scrambling for internship and staying away from romantic relationships- because I don’t want to end up trapped in the four walls of the kitchen like my mother.

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She was a young, beautiful and ambitious woman who grew up in a backward Indian village. Then she moved to the city to focus on her career but her family married her off to my father. Now, I know this sounds like a tragic story but my father was very open-minded and encouraged her to do whatever she felt right. But circumstances can cripple any champion, so after years of cooking for a family, taking care of her two children and attempting to satisfy her in-laws, her spirit got lost in the four walls of our house. I don’t blame her, I don’t blame anyone. I simply feel that it was unfair and if given a chance, she would have achieved great heights. But honestly, I genuinely love my mother. Whether she thinks of herself as a failure, I believe she is a fantastic wife and a supportive mother. One thing she didn’t fail at is raising us to follow our dreams. I know there are times when we all feel a little dejected and disappointed in ourselves, so here is a list of 10 reasons why my mother is awesome.

  1. Mom, you are freaking beautiful– Obviously after giving birth to two children you will be overweight and after sleeping for only four hours everyday you will have dark circles. But your face is the first thing I see every morning, and trust me I freaking love it. Your soft smile and sweet voice make my day. Dad thinks you’re freaking beautiful too, he is just too shy to say it!
  2. You’re sweet to everyone– I know you think that you have a habit of yelling all the time (You do). But whenever we have guests at our house, or if you are meeting my friends or dad’s colleagues, you are so respectful and lovely with them. Countless times, my friends have told me that you are very sweet but I never really told you. Maybe I didn’t think it was important, but now I think it was.
  3. You are amazing with kids– I honestly love the way your attention naturally gravitates towards a baby and you make funny faces and play with them. I love how you talk to them in weird baby language that only the two of you understand. I don’t remember anything of the time when I was a baby, but I wish I did so I would know how much fun we had when I couldn’t even talk.

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  4. You are very open-minded– In a country like India where having a relationship is qualified as ‘ruining the family name’ you always encouraged me and my brother to be modern. You asked us to be honest with you and in turn you promised that you will understand. I love that we have a transparent relationship and that we completely trust each other. You never bombarded us with orthodox thoughts but at the same time you taught us to be focused on our ambitions.
  5. You are a great cook– Okay I admit, I sometimes complain about how your ‘roti’ is a bit too roasted or how your rice isn’t fluffy enough. But I honestly love your food. I remember how I used to open my tiffin in school during lunch time and how all my class-mates would jump to eat your food. They always complimented your cooking skills. No matter how much I love Chicken McGrill Burgers, there is nothing more delicious than your dal-rice with papad.
  6. You and Dad have an awesome friendship– I admit I am one of those silly, ridiculous hopeless romantics who is seduced by the idea of fairy-tale relationships. But seeing how yours and Dad’s was an arranged marriage and yet you are so supportive and caring about each other, I have realized that a lasting friendship is more reliable than a romance that lasts one summer.
  7. You are funny– Have I ever told you this? Holy shit, you are funny mom! You are so funny, you always make me laugh like crazy. I love how you,  me and dad team up and tease brother about how he doesn’t get any female attention. I love how life is easy-going and effortless with you. You are funny mom, you are hilarious!
  8. You taught me to believe in kindness– Sometimes I get furious with you because you have a terrible habit of helping those who hate you. I don’t see the logic of why you would want to be there for those who have only tried to create problems in your family life. But watching you give them a helping hand has made me realized that you are selfless and kind, unlike them. From watching you I learned that I too should be kind to those who are in difficult situations.
  9. You are an independent woman– You are not one of those housewives who always ask their husbands permission for everything. You are a strong-willed, fierce and passionate woman who makes her own decisions. Favourite feminist icon? YOU! Biggest inspiration? YOU! Best friend? YOU! My hero? YOU!
  10. You are my best friend– I don’t know how many 18 year old girls have the privilege of saying this but you are my best friend. You are always there for my when I need you. You are my support when I feel weak, you are my companion when I’m lonely and you always tell me that everything is going to be okay. Honestly mom, you’re the best!
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    I wish I was more loving and caring towards you, but I am not one of those people who express their emotions directly. So I am writing this post which you will probably never read and thinking about what gift I should give you on Mother’s Day. But nothing I can give you, no matter how thoughtful or expensive will ever be enough to fully thank you. Mom, you are fucking awesome and I love you ❤