2019 has been a very memorable journey for me both professionally as well as personally. Professionally I got the chance to participate in a few literary Meet and Kids Carnival. Also I got a chance to perform based on my voice. Personally, the year has been a milestone in my life. I was blessed with some of the most beautiful moments of my life. I have seen the work of art on paper coming to existence in structure formation in the real world. A dream come true. Emotionally I am satisfied with the progress in which the structure is shaping up eventually. So without wasting time lets unravel the mystery.
I was invited for storytelling in Kids’ Carnival 2019 organized by Vichakshan Jain Vidyapeeth. I got an opportunity to share stories from my books Grow Up Messy! and The Santa’s Gift.
Students of the school
It seems I didn’t do anything that month. Probably exam time ate up all my excitement to look forward to life. Aaouch!
Yeah, I can hear the birds chirping. Of course the arrival of springtime. And who can forget the festivals of color HOLI. Had a fabulous time with gulal, pichkari and baang thandai. Did you have fun?
A weekend trip to Vizag and Araku Valley with family friends needs a special mention. It was never so hotter before in the Valley.
Rama Naidu Studios, Vizag
INS Kurusura Submarine Museum Vizag
Fish Trailor, Vizag
Tribal Museum Araku valley
“The Booknerds organized a hangout dedicated to children books and authors at Little Flower School, Dehradun. The event focussed on the reading culture and reducing screen time among kids. In the panel were some prominent authors, Ratna Manucha, author of more than thirty books and principal of Little Flower School, Paromita Goswami, author of Grow Up Messy and Roshen Dalal, a prolific writer and historian. Students from Olympus High School, Little Flower School and Doon International School were present at the event.” _ The Booknerds.
It was such an esteem moment to meet some of the prolific writers, Roshen Dalal and Ratna Manucha. Neha and Rohan the founder of the Booknerds really need a lot of applause for taking the initiative.
I got the chance to meet my childhood friends who have always been the anchor of my life. It never felt like we were meeting after twenty-five years.
Released the preview of the first book of my upcoming jungle series.
Available for free download.
Released the first book of jungle series.
Had a storytelling session in a summer camp organized by Chalk and Dust
Hosted my first Summer camp – Gathri for kids. It wasn’t successful yet it gave me a good experience.
The Clockmaker comes out to be # 1 in amazon.in the horror category. This was the first time one of my books grabbed that position.
Unplanned trip to Sirpur on occasion of 15th August and Rakhi.
Stone carvings at Laxman Mandir
Released my Second book of the jungle series
A Night At Achanakmar
Practically no contribution professionally. Motherhood takes precedence here and time to catch up with my son’s demands.
With the onset of Navrathris and the knocking of Durga puja round the corner, all jazzed up for shopping. This year donned mostly shopping glass bangles.
Enjoyed fabulous time during Durgapuja with boudis and sarees.
Diwali celebration marked the biggest celebration of the year.
Had a quick getaway to Barnawapara forest. This time we stayed in a resort and enjoyed the fabulous natural setting and wildlife.
It was also the time when I cleared the tests and got selected for All India radio.
The month celebration starts with my birthday which falls on the eighth. Enjoyed picnic with friends.
Announced the release of my next short story.
The Kiss of the Death.
To be released soon.
Had my first radio show on the AIR. Also got the opportunity to record my first song for AIR.
I wish for a solid beginning in 2020. May my manifestations be granted from the spiritual world to the 3D. Los of expectations and aspirations for the coming year 2020.
Have a set of books to be published. My music career gracefully elated. The kids club more active with lots of events and last, peace and harmony should prevail in all parts of the country.
Sharing with you a quote from my upcoming work. Its a short story and not horror this time.
Misry and Moon always loved going to the Officer Mess with Anurag. He usually took the girls along. They loved watching TV or listening to records on the stereo while Anurag spent time with his fellow officers. The girls had special liking for Nazia Hassan’s Disco Deewane.
Both the girls listened to the whole record and danced too while Anurag enjoyed football match on TV with the other officers. The speciality that evening for both Moon and Misry was a bottle of Thums Up, Limca or Gold Spot.
Back in the eighties fizzy drinks were not that easily available in the stores as they were available now and the campus where Anurag lived was in the countryside. So he made sure his daughters were well treated in the Officer’s Mess and get what they ask for.
Finally it was time to go back home and they were all very excited after a fabulous evening together. They headed for home where Madhavi was waiting at dinner for them. They quickly crossed the long varanda and took the steps leading out to the road to their home.
As it is home was at a walking distance from the Officer’s Mess but as it was dark and Moon as usual cried on “lappy lappy” to Anurag.
As a doting father, Anurag didn’t waste a minute fulfilling his younger daughter’s wish. He sat down on the step lending his back for a ride home. He said with his back towards them, “Here, come on dear.”
Misry saw this as an opportunity she had been waiting for so long. She had always longed for Daddy’s lap but Moon had always ruined her dreams. But this time she was going to avenge it. Even a ride home on Daddy’s back was a big moment for her. Unannounced she shoved aside Moon gently and clung to Anurag’s back.
“You have put on weight,” said Anurag putting his hand around to balance the child. Never did it occur to him that it could be his elder daughter on his back. He blamed it to his long absentees at home that he didn’t get a chance to watch his children grow. He got up and started walking towards home.
Moon was too small to understand what had just happened and kept waiting for her turn where Misry had left her. When she saw Anurag leaving she realized she was left behind. Panic griped her and she cried out,”Daddy, what about me?”
Anurag was stunned hearing her and turned around immediately. He found Moon standing in the veranda. He understood that Misry had played a prank. He turned to Misry at his back and said laughing, “So it’s you and I assumed you to be Moon. No doubt you have grown up child.”
“I am not getting down Daddy,” said Misry with conviction.
Anurag realized that the child needed his attention. “You don’t have to dear. You are my angel. Both of you will get a ride from Daddy. Come on Moon jump into my arms and Misry hold on tight to me.
Moon didn’t waste a second and got into Anurag’s arms.
Anurag walked home with both the girls- one on his lap and the other on his back while the kids clung on to him proudly.
When they reached home Madhavi couldn’t stop herself and asked, “You didn’t have to do it? They could walk.”
“I am a father Madhavi. I can’t let them down. See they are so happy.”
“And then it flew off the window, there,” said Moon turning her head towards the window so that her braids tap her cheeks. “And then the big dog jumped over the gate to gasp the birdie,” she continued slightly tilting of her head so that one of her braids touched her arms.
Moon continued her story session with her friends while her braids irresistibly followed the way she titled her head on either side. In a way Moon was enjoying her new hair style and it was not hidden from her friends either.
“You look lovely, Moon,” said Rita.
“I know,” answered Moon smiling.
Rita and a couple of more students were waiting for their private vehicle to fetch them from school and Moon stayed back with them at her own free will.
When Madhavi entered the reception area of the school she was relieved to see Moon sitting there. Quickly she went to her.
Moon was very happy to see her mother. “Ma you came to take me home? Here meet my best friend Rita,” saying Moon introduced her friends one by one.
“Hello Aunty!” said Rita.
“Hello dear,” replied Madhavi patting the girl. Then she turned to Moon, “And why are you still here? Why didn’t you board the bus?”
“I was waiting for Rita’s mother?”
“and why would you do that?”
“Because Rita loved my hair style.”
“So?” Madhavi was surprised.
Rita jumped in to explain. “Aunty I loved Moon’s hair style. So I wanted mommy to see it so that she could do my hair too. Hence we are waiting for her.”
When Madhavi heard it she didn’t know what to say to the girls. How can they be so fashion conscious at this age? “Alright we shall wait then,” said Madhavi sitting down with them.
“Ma I want you to style my hair like this one,” said Moon while dressing up for school.
“What’s the fuss dear? You might be late for school,” warned Madhavi. She had just finished parting Moon’s hair in the middle and was making a pony tail.
“No. I don’t like it. I want this one.” Moon was holding a page from the magazine and showing it to her mother. The page had a picture of a girl off to school. Her hairstyle had two thinner braids, starting right near the temple on either side of the head, merging into the main braid at the back.
“But Moon, your hair isn’t that long dear.”
“Okay shona.” And Madhavi styled Moon’s hair just as in the picture. When Moon checked in the mirror she was mesmerized. She hugged her mother and kissed her thank you. Then she went off to her school.
Madhavi got back to her house work. She had ounce to finish before her daughters would be returning from school. Both the girls followed different timings. Misry went to school in the early morning shift and came back by lunch while Moon left for school late in the morning and returned half an hour after Misry.
After finishing her work Madhavi waited for her daughter to return from school. Misry came back in her speculated time. As a dotted mother Madhavi took care of her and then waited for Moon to return from school.
Moon had now joined the kindergarten and she was going to a new school in the neighbourhood. And luckily it provided school bus service however the school was not very far from home either.
That day the school bus returned home without Moon. Madhavi was worried when she saw her child missing in the bus.
“Where is Moon? Why isn’t she in the bus?” demanded Madhavi to the driver.
“Memsahab, Moon doesn’t want to come home. She is still in school with other children. We tried a lot but she would run away every time we went to get her. In the end we decided to drop the other kids home first before getting her home,” replied the driver affter getting down from the bus.
As it is, it was the campus school and everybody knew each other well. However, Madhavi was still very worried. “But why did she stay back? Did the teacher ask her?”
“I have no idea memsahib. But I will get the information if you want me to.”
“No. You carry on. I shall visit the school myself and see what is going on.”
“Ho, memsahib,” said the driver as he got up in the bus and drove away to drop the kids at their home.
Madhavi reversed her car from the parking and drove towards Moon’s school.
The silence outside was confusing her. She tried hard to pick up the noise outside the bathroom door but all she heard was dead silence that was getting disturbed by the occasional whistle of the pressure cooker in the kitchen.
I am not going to stand here the whole day wandering what Di is up to. I need to go out and find for myself. Moon made up her mind and took a quick shower.
Misry smiled as she heard the water splash from the outside. Hmm.. Not a bad start, a good way to charm my little sister out of that hole. She was all set for Mission Bathroom. She quickly rushed into her room and took out her swimming costume from her wardrobe and waited for Moon to show up at her door.
Within a few seconds Moon showed up outside her door wrapped in a large size towel, water droplets tickled down her hair wetting the floor. Her exquisite eyes never left Misry who was now standing in front of the mirror with the swimming costume in her hand.
Misry put the costume across her chest and started checking it out in her reflection on the mirror. She turned to Moon and said, “This one looks a little faded isn’t it? I should ask Ma to get me a new one.”
Moon was confused. Isn’t she going to miss her school bus? What is she doing with the swimming costume? “”
“I am thinking of swimming. Guess I don’t need the bathroom anymore. You enjoy your time there while I enjoy mine in the vast pool with Honey and Boney. I shall take bath there henceforth. So now tell me should I get a new one?” From the corner of the eye she watched Moon’s reaction.
Swimming in the morning is a good idea in this summer. I don’t want to waste my time here in the bathroom. “I shall go too,” declared Moon.”
Hmm. So my idea works. She is in for it. Now I have to play safe. Misry shook her head. “Nope. They won’t allow you. First you don’t have a costume and second you are still a kid.”
“What kid? I go to school now! I want to go swimming too!”
Misry very slowly turned to her and said, “I want you to come along dear. But will Ma allow?”
Moon didn’t waste another second. She rushed to Madhavi while Misry quietly made her way to the bathroom. From inside she could hear Moon throwing her tantrums at Madhavi.
“I don’t know Ma. I want to go swimming. Now!” She was jumping.
“What swimming are you talking about? We didn’t discuss any such thing?”
“I want to go! Ma please! Please, please, please. ”
“But you have just had your bath.”
“Ma, please it’s so hot. See I am sweating again. Let me go down in the pool. Please.”
“Moon you should…..”
Misry smiled. She had successfully diverted her little sister’s mind. Now Moon would be off to the pool instead in the morning. Mission Bathroom accomplished. She turned on the tap and let the cold water splash over her head.
“Ma see, Moon is not getting out of the bathroom. I am getting late for school,” said Misry angrily. This had become their daily affair. Every time Misry gets ready to go for bath in the morning Moon would rush in unannounced and occupy the bathroom. Misry had been having trouble getting ready in her specified time and almost missed her school bus twice this week.
“Why do both of you have to get ready at the same time? You can do that a little early and she can do it a bit late. Why is there so much fuss about everything with you sisters? We too have grown up with siblings but never roped in Ma for anything. Our issues were always resolved among us. But look at you two?” hissed Madhavi.
She was having a tough time handling all the morning chores alone. Lakhi, their maid had gone home and Madhavi hadn’t found another maid as yet. Hence the stress. But this the children never understood.
All Misry gathered was she was old enough to handle things herself now. So be it. She was ready to fight the battle. Mission Bathroom had to be accomplished anyhow. She tip toed near the bathroom and put her ear on the door. There was silence inside. Of course Moon wasn’t doing anything inside. She was just wasting her time and mine. But you little sister, just wait and see now.
Moon was not ignorant to the silence outside. As long as Misry was cribbing to Madhavi outside she was smiling inside the bathroom. She enjoyed giving hard times to Misry especially when it was the school bus time. How she hated going to school in her tricycle and longed to go to school in a school bus just like Misry. Hence every day she would figure out something or the other in the morning so that Misry misses her school bus. But now the silence outside was killing her. What is she up to? Is she getting ready for school with taking a bath?
Moon put her hears on the door and tried to listen.
Moon was growing very empathetic towards her classmates. Shantanu wanted to eat the boiled egg in his tiffin while Priya wanted to go home, Heena wanted to go shopping. But how?
She earnest looked at the beaten faces of her classmates and thought of the solution. It was just because of the goddamn school bell. Hmm… thats it. It’s the bell. I need to do something about it. But what?
Moon sat down quietly only to think of some other idea. In a few minutes she got up and asked, “I want to go to the washroom.”
Mrs. Jolly asked the aaya and she escorted Moon to the wash room. On the way Moon saw the solution to everyone’s problem, the bell. It was a big gong hanging outside from one of the poles of the varandah of their school near the staff room. There was a mallet too hanging from a nail on the wall in the varendah. All she had to do was ring the bell and everyone can go home or eat their tiffin. But the problem was its height. It was difficult for moon to reach it. So she needed assistance in the crime.
Who better than Rohit? He is tall and competent too.
She walked back to her classroom and shared her intentions with Rohit. Naugty as he was, his eyes sparkled at the thought of it.
“Good idea! But I can’t do it alone.”
He roped in his cousin Shyam, the shy guy of their class and together the trio went off to execute the plan. It wasn’t easy. But they didn’t back off.
First Rohit went out of the class and then Shyam followed. The excuse was wash room of course. Moon too followed them saying she had dropped her hair clip in the wash room and need to trace it back.
Mrs. Jolly who was already facing a hard time with the kids didn’t bother much and allowed them with the aaya again. The boys and girls washroom was adjacent and the aaya waited for the kids outside the washroom area.
Another aaya brought another bunch of kids from another section to the washroom area and the two ladies engaged in small chit chat while kids the finished their business in their respective washrooms.
Moon and her new friends took the brilliant opportunity and escaped unseen from the washroom. They headed straight for the gong. Rohit made a plan. With Shaym he was complete. Moon and Shyam held him up in their arms while he grasped the pole and hit the mallet on the gong several times before running off to their class. Hearing the bell the kids rushed out of their classes with their bags screaming “Chutti chutti ” and nobody dared to stop them. That day the school was over half an hour early.