Tuesday, April 26, 2011


There’s a cramp in my foot as I write this, and my hair smells of coconut oil left too long in the heat.

My exams begin early next month and end on June 9.

Since writing new stuff requires considerable amount of day dreaming and talking to myself, the posts may become a little infrequent in the meanwhile.

Till June 9, whenever I’m unable to come up with something new, I’ll post a link to some story that I like.

Right now I’m posting the link to a story I absolutely, absolutely love.  The version that you are going to read is titled ‘Beginners’. But this story became famous after it was renamed ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’.  The writer is Raymond Carver.

Comment on this post if you want to say something about this story. We could discuss it and share insights!

Happy reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Bride, Please

Her father had been cremated in the morning by fellow slum dwellers, her mother had been dead for as long as she could remember. She spent the evening with the neighbor’s kids and the next morning, a man came to take her to where he said her father had wanted her to go. They reached Howrah station, and after a long train ride followed by a bus ride, passed under a blue overhead board which read ‘Haryana Welcomes You’. They got down at a village which a white board called ‘Farmana’ in black letters. She had gone to school until the day before her father’s death. She was thirteen.

The man held her by the hand, exchanged her for a thick bunch of hundred rupee notes with a man who had a missing front tooth, and left. The man with the missing tooth gave her a new pair of clothes in the evening, and married her in a little ceremony. She didn’t know his name. He was almost thirty, and reeked of tobacco.

The next morning she woke up sore, her pillow wet with tears. He showed her the kitchen, the fields and the hand pump.

In the first year of her marriage, the women at the hand pump would jeer at her, call her paro, a female outsider.

She would cook his lunch, take it to the fields and help him there. Sometimes, while coming back early to prepare dinner, she would look at the crimson sky and try to remember the evenings in Kolkata, her friends, fish, Durga Puja.

By the time the year came to an end, their neighbor also got married. The girl was from Hyderabad, was older than her, almost seventeen. A different dalal had brought her. Her name was Sabina.


The day after Sabina’s wedding, she went with her to the hand pump and stared at the women who called her paro.

They started going to the fields and the weekly market together, telling stories about their childhoods, and about their husbands.

Once, she told Sabina that she had skipped her period two months in a stride. Sabina opened her eyes wide, put her hand on her mouth, smiled, and told her that she was pregnant.


She has ten children, nine sons. Sabina has five, all sons. Now they worry about getting their sons married. There are no girls in the village, or in the adjacent villages. They will also have to ask a dalal.

P.S.  I wrote this story inspired from an article about India’s worsening sex ratio,which featured in The Economist earlier this month.  The sex ratio for Haryana is 830 girls per 1000 boys, as per the early data from National Census – 2011. It is one of the lowest amongst Indian states. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Happened?

Her daughter touched the vaccination mark on her left arm, and said, “I don’t want my mark to grow this big.”

“It won’t,” she said and placed her chin lightly on her small shoulders as she sat in her lap, her hand around her. She looked at her arms and tried to remember the days when they were thin. The vaccination mark had been like a mosquito bite. Her gaze fell on her hands, the fingertips black with chopping ridge gourd for lunch. She needed a manicure. When was the last time she got one? 

Her daughter shifted under the weight of her chin. She lifted her head and rested it against the headboard of the bed. Her daughter would fall asleep against her, she knew. She would then have to put her gently to bed, coo hushed sounds to her in case she stirred. Then she herself would lie sleepless, until the maid came at five. Afterwards she would get busy with dinner. Then he would come, they’d have dinner, father and daughter would watch T.V., daughter would be put to sleep and they would retire for the night. Things were alright, perfect, almost, she told herself.

Her daughter smiled in her sleep. She had his smile, but her face, her face of ten years ago. She had been so much prettier. Bright eyes, translucent skin and sonorous laughter. What happened in these ten years? The years played like a motion picture in her head, the days merging, months piling symmetrically on top of each other, standing witness to the fact of her life.  She tried to think of five things that stood out, but could come up with three, including her daughter’s birth.

The watch on the bed side table read four-thirty. She turned away from her daughter, and tried to get some sleep.