Hatred & Love


“Romance after the fight is the best romance in the world” is a pretty mashed up line now. And I do agree with it for starters. But what they don’t tell you is ‘why’. I think you have to look for the reasons in the fight. Hatred. Anger. The words themselves are so strong and the feelings so intense. I think it is the intensity of the fights that resides in our hearts, lurking like a molten lava challenging to be calmed down. You cannot. You could only channelize it. And what is the best stop apart from romance to get down at?

Call me crazy. Call me a lunatic. But I feel I am equally in love with her while she is screaming at the top of her voice and am trying to subdue it with my husky (clears throat) one. I think I’m oddly drawn to her flushed cheeks and her fuming eyes. I do not think I love her any less even when we are fighting. And the secret is neither does she. The anger burning in her tone only  tells me how much she believes that she owns me and cannot settle down to agree with any disagreement that may happen between us. The little things that she does not shy away from, tell me that it is the version of us belonging to this moment or the period of time we are battling and not us – whole ourselves. She inherently acknowledges this far superior worth of our bonding and knowingly or unknowingly she is careful about the fragile nature of it even when we are fighting. That knowing and yet not knowing part is what builds our castle of cards, our cloud of dreams. And each time we have an intense fight, we only prick away the least important clouds that we made together. We do have to sacrifice a cloud or two, though, each time we quarrel. That’s the rule of the game.

But hey, we have only been talking about the before romance – the fight part. Once you clear this stage of the multiplayer game, romance awaits you to rekindle few dying sparks and ignite the new ones. The fire that was set up by hatred, jealousy, possessiveness and all other motherfucking siblings of them, is now waiting to draw you close. Fucking close. It starts with her pushing you away. That is the first stage of it. Then there are more attempts from your end, marinated with sweet words of affection. The names you call her, you know. She says, Do not call me that! You then call her ‘that’ again. Next stage is your ego making an intermittent appearance questioning your pursuance of her. You ignore it at first and swallow it down at second. She then surrenders. Not completely. But you see the glimmering hope in her eyes with a reflection of yours. That hope is what we live for and die for. The hope in her eyes. Yes, that is the end. It starts with once upon a time and ends with hope and grace. Not ‘they happily lived ever after’. That is your job asshole. You write, edit, proofread that. Good fucking luck.



Evanescent Happiness


Through my bedroom window the other day, I saw it was only a little time left for the Sun to set over Rock garden – and my favorite spot over there.

I left home hurriedly & crossed the road to enter the garden located on the opposite side.
‘Hurriedly’ because I knew it was a fleeting, evanescent moment that I had to catch. Universe painting the sky with its blue, pink & saffron crayons to remind us again that the nature is the biggest artist of all. And we both watched it together all those times, pausing for minutes, letting our silence appreciate that moment; for we knew it was a transitory one. We knew that something so beautiful would last only for seconds before the darkness conquers the sky. 
But honey, we let the nature fool us by its artistic sorcery as if it would not return the next day.
It did, right? And we watched it again, enthralled by its magic. I watched your face yet another day, lit up by the golden sunshine and the wind complimenting the scene by gently flirting with your hair.

Today I ran away to reach my spot and thought of all the times we could rewind the sunset and beat the so-called fleeting happiness. The other side of the bench was empty though, as I let myself to be tricked by the Universe again, as if I was Vikram & nature, Betaal.

The warmth of the setting Sun reminded me of your nudging me when I used to be lost looking over the horizon. And then you would shake your head like you always did, before you smiled, showing an even row of teeth. I would ask how your day was. And as I rummage through this past, I realise that the biggest trick the Universe ever pulled on us was not hinting that ‘us’ sharing that time and space was the only evanescent moment of them all.

You know, I desperately bleed ink on the paper tonight, gasping for thoughts and hoping to preserve our memories before the darkness conquers the sky yet again. Because every time I sit at my favorite spot, I remember so much and yet forget a little. That little is a scary part. I keep wondering if you remember the part of the memories that escaped my fingertips. For I am just a writer with only a limited power to immortalise the part of us that I can recall. I sometimes wish you could lend me few of our laughter & fights that I must have forgotten now.
Because I’m just a lover with an aching heart. If only we could become those purple sunsets and make a pact with the Universe to let us meet behind the horizon. If only if we could blindfold the Sun and trick the time into thinking that it isn’t yet the time to set apart. Because girl, I am just a writer, not yet a match to beat the nature’s art.


Saket Metro to Dadar West (Long journey cut short Part3)

Romance, Fiction



Jia looked around at the mute crowd in that Metro train’s compartment. Few had their eyes closed, rest chose to stare into the cellphone screens in their hands. Metro ran smoothly over the tracks towards Huda city center. Other than the occasional sound of breaks kissing the tracks, there was no noise.

Please stand clear of the yellow line. Doors will open on the right
Jia zipped her jacket up again and got down at Saket metro station.
After few rounds of negotiations with the auto guy which she won almost every day, she was on her way to meet the Publisher of her recently published book ‘A beautiful lie’. She had previously gotten published two of her novels from the same firm and was therefore rather confident about this one as well. This meeting was a way to thank him for the same. And for him, it was a date.

Thousands of kilometers away from there, I was trying to peep outside the train’s window to check if the station was Matunga Road or Mahim. “It’s Mahim. Where do you want to go?” asked a fellow face in the crowded compartment. “Dadar” I replied and he returned a complimentary smile. I retreated back into my thoughts. Somewhere between fighting for a place to sit and an air to breathe, I had already made some friends. One could never feel lonely here. That was the magic of Mumbai local trains.

Raindrops were bungee jumping from the top of the window to its bottom and then diving inside. Sitting beside the window, I wondered if it really matters whether the train seat you got is facing the direction that the train is moving in or opposite to it? To come to think of it, it does make you feel like you are going to a new place or on the other hand like you are saying goodbye to the old one.
Nevertheless which one you call home is the real question. Places are faces you meet there. The ones you came across while you took yourself out to orient with the place.
Traveling from one place to another, my mind was battling an army of mixed feelings. The nostalgia of things and few pieces of my heart that I had left behind on one side and an array of emotions from hope to fear of going to a new place on the other. It was then I realized that Home was somewhere in between. It was the journey. Over the years, I hadn’t loved anything as much as creating stories about the world that passed by outside my train bogey. They had so much to tell you in so little of time. The trees that waved with their hands full of leaves, vast plains of farmlands satiating a family staying in a tiny hut far behind, Scarecrows looking clumsily at you with birds sitting on their heads, a river bed, a small town fallen into an oblivion. They all struggled to strike a conversation in those flying seconds of time. I could have always settled for one place.  One town. Do my daily errands of the house to office and back. The social life was always waiting for me to go and drown in its flow of five-years and ten-years career plans. A flood I was sure I did not want to flow along with. I did not want that. Not forever. Because the simplicity and nakedness of mind could only be found while sitting besides the train window.


Anyway, let me take you back to Delhi.

So here in Saket, Jia was saying Hi to some Arora guy. Sahil I guess, his name was. Good looking as per her friend, but just fair as per Jia. And he liked Jia. Jia wasn’t sure if she did like him back, but she knew for sure that he had helped her market her last two novels really well. She needed him to do the same for the third one as well. So she met him.

George Restaurant at Select city-walk was the venue. She saw him from far, as he waved his hand. While having lunch, Jia spoke to him about the book. About the guy she wrote about. But that guy being real was kept as a secret. She recalled her conversation with her flatmate, about me. About my photography. How she could sense a story behind each photo that I had clicked. She wondered if she would see me again. The lunch or the meeting lasted for an hour or so. They decided to launch the book in Mumbai followed by Delhi.

And they did. Just a week later.




July 20th.

That week started in its most usual way it could have. Monday blues, Tuesday, Wednes-the middle fucking day of the week, Thirsty for beer Fridays…just the usual set of mornings with a cup of strong caffeine to convince you into believing that this day is going to be a different one.

Until there actually came a day when…

A day when the ground drops out from beneath your feet. The day when hour hand forgets to run around and time makes no sense to you.

Sunday it was for me.

I was smiling happily looking at myself in the mirror. “Write now”, “Blogging is not writing”, “Publish me!” sticky posts on the wall finally seem to make some sense today.

An email from Caravan magazine was the reason behind it.
I was chosen to represent India among 20 other young writers at Literature festival in Paris. A dream it was. I had already shared it with everyone I could think of.

But today I had to take on another challenge. My first day as a staff writer for the magazine. I wanted to pray but then realised that I’m an atheist, so just took a deep breath.

It was a happy moment and I was waiting for it from a long, long time.

Coming outside my apartment in Andheri, I managed to get an auto after several futile attempts.

Auto driver tried to engage me in a conversation over rains and poor state of roads, while I thought about how much this was going to change my life.

Several turns and swinging from side to side finally let us reach the office and I jumped out.

World just seemed different that day. I looked at sky & the Sun almost winked at me as it sat on a pillow of clouds. Doorman said Good morning like he really meant it & I entered the office.

Playing nervously with the leather belt of my shoulder bag, I waited near the reception.

“This way, Neil,” said a girl who appeared like an apparition and I simply followed her to the cabin on far end.

“Do you have any prior experience in interviewing?” she asked me without turning behind.

Following her I said with a raised eyebrow, “I guess you are mistaken. It is my first day at the job.”

“No, am not” she turned and continued to speak. “You may want to refer to this. It has a profile of celebrity you are going to interview.

“Celebrity? In how much time?” I flipped through the pages & lifted my head up to see her gone already.

I pulled a chair for myself in that oval shaped cabin, surrounded by glass doors. The other chair revolved as soon as I dropped my bag on it.

“A celebrity. My first writing assignment. This couldn’t get any better” I thought to myself and was lost in my own world.

The cloud of thoughts was pricked suddenly by a gentle knock on the door.

“Hi, meet our staff writer Neil. He shall be interviewing you. Please feel free to start with the interview as per your convenience” said the receptionist who then turned her face towards me.

“Neil, I’m sure you already know about our interviewee. Meet…”

“Jia. Jia Shah!” I completed her sentence as I almost dropped the file in my hand.






“Hi!” She replied with the equally surprised face.

“Hi!” I said and we both smiled through our eyes.

“You are famous. And you’re the same girl from the train, right? Just confirming” I said laughing.

“Yes I am,” she said. “And you are not just a photographer, are you?”

“Well, I do interview famous people sometimes,” I said and we shared a smile.

Suddenly all the wait seemed worthwhile.



Clipped wings


She dreamed of flying, when others were simply learning to walk, learning to cross the street. She was just nine, when she had made white clouds her home and felt wind was waiting to carry her along.

Twenty one and she had made it up there. Flying along with one of the finest airlines, smiling her perfect smile at 200 new faces every day. From one city to another, from another to the next one…she only halted for a while. She wished she didn’t have to at all. But life had some other plans.

And tonight she sang at Eleventh east street cafe, her new job it was since past one year. A favourite hangout place for the young ones in town. And they loved her at what she did – singing their choice of songs with an occasional melody of her own. For Him, it was his first time at the restaurant.

He had taken a small round table close to the fountain overflowing with water, which failed to drown her voice. She had conquered his thoughts, as she put her dark wavy hair on one side and the battle was already half won…by her. She sang American pie and he couldn’t help but hum it along. Feeling stupid, every time her eyes caught his.
He listened intently to her voice and wondered what her story was.  After all nothing entices an artist’s mind more than pieces of a broken heart. He knew she was much more than a singing lady tonight or any other night. Maybe a little late to go back, a too early to leap ahead. Tonight was hers though. This moment sang her song. Her dreams whispered into his ears in hushed tone as he held onto the words.

They had clipped her wings down.  But nothing could kill the magic in her voice.  If you listen closely enough, you could still hear the flutter of her wings…waiting for the cage door to be swung open. Her heart was jailed and tonight he melted his into a key. She sang all night, while he sat there scribbling on his notepad. Occasionally the glass of wine made it to his lips. But his eyes, they only held one vision in that crimson moonlight – of hers in the white dress, singing with closed eyes.

He knew he had to get past the lyrics somehow and she kept hoping her walls to be never brought down, by another man.  Having reached bottom of the glass several times, he felt more confident. He felt he knew her now, probably more than she did herself. He was sure of having unlocked the draft folders in her heart. And he penned down what he thought had been hiding behind those walls, waiting for the peek-a-boo to be played with the right heart.

Her voice resonated in the four walls that night and his words did the dance to the tune of it over the notepad. Dipped in the ink of feelings, they now left a trail of romance behind. The music stopped and he fervently tried to grasp the notes flying around. She sat back and relaxed, sipping onto the drink she had bought.

“You, you sing well” he said and she shook her shoulders in reply.

“I guess I do fine.” She said and he saw she wasn’t as pretty looking as she seemed while she sang. And yet at the same time very pretty somehow.

“You got the tale you were looking for?” She said with the straw flirting with her lips.

“What do you mean?” He smiled wondering if he had completely got her wrong.

“Your story I’m talking about, the one you were scribbling while pretending to sing American pie. I’m sure you had thousand thoughts in your head, with those characters doing a dialogue with your inner voices.” She smiled and offered him a chair next to hers.

He sat nervously feeling a bit stripped down and let her take the charge.

“I am Nadia. And what’s your name, writer boy?”

“Why don’t you read it yourself?” He smiled and handed over the notebook in her hands.

“I hope the ending is good, as I dreamed it to be” she said watching him read her eyes like ‘he’ used to.

“There isn’t one. She learns how to fly. He helps her do that.” He replied.

“And she leaves him behind? Yet again?” she asked.

“He was never hers to take along. She wasn’t his. They met. Like two kites accidently brushing hands in the sky. They were meant to carry on” said the writer boy.

“Well, she is happy that she met him after all” she smiled her perfect smile. After a long time.