Ashish lay in bed sweating profusely. Whatever had happened in his shop had horrified him beyond words. He knew he could never be able to explain the incident to anyone. After endless tossing and turning he fell asleep only to be overpowered by his nightmare.
It was dark already. A small fire burning
“Give me back my money!”
“Are you done? We will miss the bus?”
“ We will see how you put up your stall here again?”
A hand from behind the bushes
“I am too old now. You carry on.”
Weary feet running in the jungle
“I am the clock maker.”
“I am not going anywhere!”
“I have been waiting for you!”
“Just wait and watch!”
“ Here take this! Mend it for me.”
“We are not going anywhere!”
Ashish woke up with a jolt in the wee hours of the morning. He found he had accidentally wetted his bed. But he didn’t care anymore. He lay in his wet bed wide eyed thinking and shaking nervously. He had no urge to even get up and change his wet clothes. His body was as cold as an ice.
It was not the first time the nightmares haunted him. He remembered it very clearly. It had started after his father’s demise. At first he had thought it was due to the personal loss in the family as he had been very young then. But over the years it had gripped his consciousness in such a manner that sometimes it became difficult for him to differentiate when he was dreaming and when it was for real. However, the previous night’s nightmare had left him shaking. It was the first time his nightmare was interrupted by the incidents of the day.
He lay on his back on the bed looking at the spinning ceiling fan above, without flicking his eyes.
And this is what I have been doing the year through.
My new release book Grow Up Messy is showered with love from readers and critics alike. Especial mention here would be for Ahana, my youngest reader so far. She disliked my cover instantly saying its very childish (Considering herself quite grown up for a ten year old) but loved the adventures Misry went through in the book. Although the character Misry is a naughty five year old yet her thoughts are more of a ten year old child. Hence the book is targeted for the middle grade and young adults. The book was loved by the parents and kids alike.
Watched Poorna, a film by Rahul Bose with the kids of my kids club. They had a fantastic time in the Inox theater with popcorn cold drinks and a very inspiring story of Poorna, an underprivileged girl who became the youngest girl to scale the mount Everest.
A family reunion time. Had been to a wedding at my hometown and was nostalgic as always. Memories freshened up visiting all the old folks and cousins. How can one stay away from family for sooo long I still wonder? Family is the pillar of strength for many of us yet work keep us moving to new places. Sigh!
A short trip to Sunderban was a big surprise packet. Sunderban trip was a very different experience. Chilly winds in the morning didn’t stop us from traveling in a mid-sized trawler boat in the cold water of the Sunderban delta that comprises of confluence of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river right before the Bay of Bengal sea. The mangroves which is the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tigers were the biggest attraction for us. Throughout the time we were on the boat our eyes were on the lookout for the King of this land. However, we were not that fortunate. We spent the entire day on the cruise eating lavish food like crabs, prawns and other sea fish prepared in the boat itself. Bengalis need nothing more in life after that.
PS I still have to document my trip on my YouTube and blog. Sigh!
Valentine Day gave me a new surprise. No not my husband. But my son and his pranks. The Day of Love celebrated in a different way. You can read it here.
With school holidays set in I didn’t have time for myself anymore. My life and time devoted to the kid’s demand. What a hectic month it had been. With almost all his friends taking examinations D had nobody but me to give him company. I literally had to hunt play mates for him. Finally got him enrolled in badminton classes. And I was stuck with his schedule. While waiting for his training class to be over I made couple of new friends and discovered many new things this small city offered. Especially trips to Malviya Road increased and window shopping turned out to be our favorite pastime. Learning new recipes and bitching about other girlfriends turned out to be another favorite timepass we women loved to indulge in.
Had been part of writing festival organized by Blogchatter. It was three months of interaction online interaction with aspiring writers and bloggers through twitter chat and facebook live. Here is one of my articles on How to write your first novel.
With the temperature raising every single day the thoughts never got a chance to evolve in the mind. I started with the other stories of the Jungle Series besides The Clockmaker. For some reason this series was taking forever to be published. Initially I had ten short story collection and that’s how I promoted my upcoming book. I approached the publishing houses. But nobody was interested to pick up short stories collection from a not so well known author like me. So I indulged myself in redrafting my stories into a full fledged novel. And it took me another six to eight months to actually finish it.
Again a busy month with the kids. My Kids Club had Summer Camp and the days were pretty adventurous. We had a visit to the Post Office, Space Mission, best out of waste and even had a lemonade stall in the busy market place run by the kids. It had been a freaky month with temperature outside reaching 46 degrees centigrade and inside almost touching 50 degrees centigrade with the kids laughter.
A few things in life has changed me completely and Aakaar, an initiative by the sanskriti department in my part of world is one of them. I got the privileged of learning Madhubani Art from the renowned artist Shrimati Shanti Devi, who has represented India in my countries regarding this Indian art form. I am in the kindergarten again and playing with brush after almost thirty years and its like homecoming for me. As a guru she passed on her passion to all of us however we could absorb just a tinge of it. We are all praise for her and her passion for bringing her imagination on the canvas. She says every art has a story. Madhubani or Mithila art was started by Raja Janak to document his daughter Sita’s wedding on the canvas and later the Ramayana. It is a rural art form and was hidden from the world all those years until Bihar was struck with massive earthquake and the paintings were revealed. Keeping up the tradition alive is this acclaimed artist whose wall art has been incorporated on the national museum Delhi. However, it is really painful to see an artist of this caliber being deprived of the samman, respect, which she deserves. She has been part of the project for the last ten years yet few students know her name or even bother to know more about her as an artist. Being a rural woman she doesn’t know internet and hence is not aware of promoting her work on online platforms. She also shared that folk artists are not treated well within the country whereas outside India, people really appreciate their work and give the due respect. I have been offline for a almost twenty days now and she had transferred me to a magical world. A world of gobar handmade canvas over which one takes the flight of imagination and imprints the lines with brush and colorful pallets. Sharing some of her renowned work.
With the arrival of the monsoons we had a short summer retreat to Kanha National Park to meet the Royal Bengal Tiger. We were unfortunate again. We didn’t get a glimpse of the tiger. However, we learned a lot of things about the area. Kanha is situated in Madhya Pradesh and is one of the first Tiger projects in the country started here in 1974.
Full fledged preparations for Durga Puja celebrations. For the first
time I was directing a Bengali Natak, Sashi Babur Biyer Swopno, (Shashi Babu’s wedding dreams) written by me.
Here is a small excerpt from my upcoming novel THE CLOCKMAKER. Hope you enjoy it.
It had started raining since the evening. A heavy downpour followed by drizzle. With the onset of the monsoons it was predictable. It was chaos everywhere. The routes were jammed due to water logging on the streets and the traffic came to a standstill in a short while.
Vicky was waiting for Kavya in the parking lot. He knew it would be difficult for her to drive back to her house in her scooty in this weather. So he waited there to help her out.
Kavya came out of the institute in a while. She was very upset to see the chaos on the road. It was already late and she didn’t want to keep her mother worried at home. She called her up to inform that she would be home late due to the traffic.
She pulled her bag above her head and ran to the parking lot. She was almost drenched by the time she reached there.
“Damn. How am I going to make it to Noida in this weather?” She cussed.
“May I help you?”A voice asked from behind. It was Vicky. He had gathered a lot of courage to say those words to her. His heart was racing fast as he waited for her answer.
Kavya turned around and saw a guy standing. His nervous black eyes were the first thing she noticed. It matched his anxious voice. She remembered seeing the guy in the class. One of the back benchers. She dismissed him immediately saying, “No. Thanks,” and turned back. She started her scooty and drove off without giving a second look to him.
Vicky sighed as he watched her go. “Damn! How stupid I looked?” He said to himself and started laughing. “You need lessons from your old man again,” he reminded himself. His Nanu had been of great help to him when he set out to make his first girlfriend at the age of thirteen. He started his bike and trailed Kavya which he often did without her knowledge.
Kavya couldn’t reached very far. The route she usually took was completely jammed due to the rains and there was no sign of relief any time soon. Most of the people were already reversing their vehicle. So Kavya also thought of doing so.
She took a right turn and didn’t notice the speed bumper ahead. Before she could apply the brakes she lost her balance and bumped into a standing vehicle. The impact threw her out of the bike on the water logged road.
The vehicle was a brand new car and the impact broke one of its tail lights.
Kavya stood up shivering – more from the shock of the accident than her wet clothes. She was drenched completely and her hands and knees were bruised.
Instead of helping her, the driver of the car, she had bumped into, got down and started arguing about the damage done to his vehicle. The poor man was concerned that the car owner will deduct the damage from his salary. People started gathering around and it terrified Kavya more . She was so terrified that she hid her face in her palm.
Vicky reached there in time and found Kavya panic stricken amid the crowd. He didn’t lose a second and took the situation in his hands.
He got down from his bike and yelled at the crowd, “She is with me!” Within a few strides he stood right in front of her.
Kavya heard a familiar voice. She opened her eyes slowly and was curious to find a guy standing in front of her with his back towards her. His broad shoulders shielded her completely from the crowd.
“I will take care of it. Just don’t worry.” He stated.
Kavya remembered the voice. It was of the same guy in the parking she had met a few minutes ago. But his voice sounded so authoritive now.
He spoke something to the driver and he went away without saying another word. The crowd too disbursed immediately.
He then turned back to face Kavya. “Are you alright?” He looked concerned.
Kavya looked into those eyes once more but could not hold his gaze for more than a few seconds. She was ashamed of her rudeness earlier. She nodded looking down.
Vicky bent down and picked up her bag from the road. He looked around for her scooty. It stood a few meters away. Someone in the crowd might have picked it up. He went to check it. He started the engine and it roared. He looked at Kavya who was still standing there where he had left her. The rain water washing off the mud stains off her fair skin. He then noticed that she was shivering.
He came over to her and took off his rain jacket and offered it to her.
“Your scooty is fine.” He informed her.
Kavya remained silent. She knew she couldn’t make it home alone but she didn’t have the courage to say it. She started weeping.
“Damn! No! What happened? I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you anyway.” He was confused.
Between her sobs Kavya said, “No I am sorry for my rudeness. Please take me home. I can’t ride my scooty.”
There was silence for a moment.
Kavya wasn’t sure anymore what to expect and Vicky was speechless hearing her words. How much he had waited for a moment like this and now he was zapped. He could feel the blood draining his ears and cheeks red as his heart raced.
Then she heard him say. “Don’t worry about your scooty. I will get it picked up by my friend. Come on lets go.”
Kavya followed him quietly to his bike and pillion rode the entire way to her house in Noida. Nobody spoke in between. They spoke only for directions.
Kavya was still in shock and Vicky too cautious of her nearness to him. And it drizzled all the way.
When Vicky stopped the bike in front of her apartment Kavya got down and throwing a small, “Thank you,” behind her ran inside without looking back.
Vicky stood there watching her enter the building. He looked up towards the sky and a smile swept his lips while the rain drops splashed on his face. He started the engine and biked all the way home in super speed.
Isn’t it strange? I have been watching his movies chewing my nails with my eyes rolling around most of the time to see if there was anyone standing right behind me. Gosh! Scary horror movies have always been my favorite time pass during my school summer vacation. Not that I knew about many English directors or Hollywood actors but they had this thrill in their horror movies which I always found missing in our Bollywood movies. Even the famous Zee TV show of Ramsay Production didn’t excite as did most of the Hollywood horror movies.
I am more of a visual person and hence what I have seen once in safely saved in my memory. And one such memory is of Pet Sematary. It was the story of a family that had shifted to a new home and just when you thought everything was going perfect all hell broke loose. For weeks I was so disturbed by the movie that I could hardly sleep at night. Even strange was I had picked up the movie just by its title. I had no idea about the actors or director of the movie. It was only the title that drew my attention. Those were the days when we use to watch videos in VCP in our bedroom with all the curtains of the windows drawn in to darken the room when it was broad daylight outside. Most of the times it was me and my sisters insanely staring at the TV screen to see what would be the next scene. A slight knock on the door would startle us like anything and nights use to scare the hell of us.
Today after so many decades, I watched a movie trailer on Facebook that was shared by one of my friends. It was of the upcoming movie “IT” written by Stephen King, The king of horror. I have never read Stephen King but today the trailer made me fall in love with his work. He is a terrific storyteller. And then my search for his other work started on the internet. I came across Pet Sematary and I remembered how it had left me frightened for weeks. So I may not have read his books but his movies did keep me hitched. Like this time it was the trailer of IT.
I am trying my hands on supernatural, paranormal this time. And sincerely hope that I may incite similar feelings in my reader with my work. Wish me good luck!
Here is a small #excerpt from my upcoming book
The wind blew and the swaying tree top sang to its tune humming slowly. The temperature had dropped down considerably since the sunset. It was pretty usual in this part due to the rocky terrain of the Aravalis mountain ranges. The days are pretty hotter and the nights colder.
Bauji stretched his hands over fire. The warm of the fire felt very good on his palm. He drew his palm over his face to feel the warmth. It felt like heaven. He was glad that at least he was not going to die of cold in this jungle.
The man got up to put some more wood in the fire. Bauji watched him over the fire flames. He stood pretty tall for a six feet man. His black cloak almost touched the ground as he walked with a long stride towards the pile of woods. As he tossed the wood in the fire the wind blew, hugging his cloak to his well built physique. The light from the fire brightened up slightly but still wasn’t enough to catch a glimpse of the face that remain hidden within the hood. The aura around him was very mysterious as he sat done on the rock again almost camouflaged to the darkness behind. He just didn’t seem to belong to this world.