The walls were pristine white. They were neither devoid of emotions nor did they present any stark reminder of a hospital. A number of canvases on the wall told stories through a riot of colors that pierced the monotony  like the first rays of the rising sun.

An array of chairs and tables, lamps hanging from the ceiling, and a long, granite counter held mouth-watering culinary assortments behind a glass shelf which held her attention but only for a fleeting moment.

There were handful of people in the room – a man who nursed a lone cup of coffee, which was his only companion, a couple who sat with their fingers entwined but their thoughts seemed to be far away from each other, an elderly couple who playfully bickered over the last bite of chocolate cake while sharing a steaming cup of tea. But in midst of this she sat alone on a table surrounded by books, a bottle of water, a cup of tea, papers with words scrawled all over them, a few memories, and regrets. She didn’t seem to belong there.

The kohl-rimmed eyes had a haunted look to them, which only magnified the grief reflected on her face; it did not flit but stayed constant. The devastation tore at the heart because it brought her to her knees. She was broken yet emanated strength.

She was strong! Why? Because had it been otherwise then the room would have been echoing with heart-wrenching sobs. It seemed as if something from the very core of her soul had been brutally ripped away; such wounds left no visible marks but scars that stayed timeless.

She gazed at one of the paintings quite aimlessly as if the vibrant colors held within their depth all the answers to her clashing thoughts. Tears lent a sheen to her otherwise blank eyes but last vestiges of pride wouldn’t allow her to shed them. Self-respect and an inherent ego helped hold her head high but fragments of jarring memories snuck in through her otherwise heavily guarded armor. He was the chef concocting bittersweet memories and regrets and she played the character of a mute spectator to perfection.

There was very little she could do about it because now it was too late.

“Is it?”, he would have asked with desperation and mockery lacing his voice. An icy hand closed around her heart as she thought of the man who had coaxed, manipulated, and cajoled her into questioning her sanity.

She tried hard to let go of the silent scream that wanted to deny his every accusation but her shattered soul and trembling hands told a different story.

Clenching her fists tightly, she reigned in her emotions and schooled her features to perfection. When she lifted her face, those looking at her were taken in by the smile on her luscious lips. She looked ethereal and so fragile. If one peered closely at her face then she was only a beautiful stranger enjoying the solitude.

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saree5 wm She lay quite comfortably on a raw carpet of cement and wrapped in the nine yards that was all grace but belied the haste with which it was tied. The sharp stones, sweltering heat, and a lone bulb in the spacious room mocked at the luxury she was accustomed to and pushed it in the far recess of her life; not forever but as long as she deemed fit. They were never allowed to transcend the journey of a few hours, which didn’t last even for a day. Nine yards She nurtured an indecipherable connect with the abandoned, trivial things, which usually escaped even the keenest of eyes. She was different! Her thick, beautiful curls jostled for space and revelled in the touch of her fingers as she drew them away in an absent fashion. But time and again they fell back, craving to caress her face. The thoughts underneath the captivating face charted their own course contrary to the words she read that painted a musical history. Nine yards She looked content languishing on the scattered cushions, but her eyes reflected the fragments from another lifetime that could churn a storm in the calmest of sea. But she smiled because she knew it to be the best way to be happy. A tongue and wit sharper than a razor had all around her on their toes: a fact in which she took much pride. Tranquility There was only one who could unravel the mysteries dancing in those eyes, which laughed at a lonesome joke, igniting within its depth the tinders of wisdom born from sorrows of the past. The wind blew so did her thoughts. The time flew and so did her wait. She lay there in tranquillity as the music filled the room she dimly lit.  

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The pen caught between nimble fingers was tapping in a staccato rhythm… sometimes against the worn out spiral notebook else her chin.

Long, beautiful curls streaming around her face were pushed back by fingers on which her forehead rested.

An intense look of confusion and passion was writ large on her face; a face so expressive and transparent was enhanced by troubled eyes. Every flitting emotion had its own story to tell in a language hard to interpret.

She was bent over the table furiously scribbling away and after a few seconds scratched it all out. It wasn’t her words but confusions that she wrote only to erase. Eyes full of sorrow and a ghost of a smile on the lips, she refused to look towards the door. She seemed to seek solace from none but one.

He stood and watched her from afar. She was his bundle of contradictions. Rings on both the hands drew his eyes to her every moment.

Unaware of people and sounds, she was engrossed in weaving thoughts.

He had traced his steps to the place for this is where she sought solitude and he her company.

A gateway was what he looked for to the thing she held precious: her thoughts.

A paradox of hope and conflict, she troubled and soothed his every waking thought and haunted dreams.

Untouched by her dilemma he craved to embrace it all.

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Other Side of the Mirror

This is the Fourteenth chapter of the series that has been written as a part of Blogadda’s event #CelebrateBlogging. I belong to the team “Tandem Tensome”. You can read the previous chapter here : Chapter 13

Roohi was quite reluctant to leave the puppy at Mr Ahuja’s home because it had become her best friend with whom she could share her secrets. Looking at her downcast face Mr. Ahuja decides to cheer her up. “Hey Roohi! How about if I bring along the puppy to your home tonight? While we have dinner you can take him to your room and play for as long as you want. What say?” asked Aryan Ahuja. Roohi jumped in joy and hugged Mr Ahuja. His eyes took over a mysterious glint, which he deftly concealed lest Shekhar saw through his ominous plans. He patted Roohi on the back and kissed her on the head before bidding her farewell if only for a few hours. Shekhar, who was oblivious to Mr Ahuja’s evil intentions, seemed even more impressed with his neighbor’s efforts to make his daughter smile. He couldn’t help but wonder that how could God be so unkind and leave such a nice man bereft of a family. Shekhar thought to himself that Mr Ahuja would have made a wonderful father. Once Shekhar and Roohi left, Mr Ahuja shut the door and took two stairs at a time while whistling to himself; he looked like a child who had hit a jackpot of candies. In his case he was about to lay his hands on something he had been eyeing for months, the right time had come now in disguise of a dinner. Mr Ahuja by profession customized games for children and was one of the biggest importers of the games that were very hard to find. He was a handsome man in his 30’s for whom money and power had never been an issue. His showroom was every child’s dream world and he even stocked a few things at home too that served his purpose. On the first floor, Mr Ahuja walked down a long corridor and entered a room on the right. It looked like a mini toy shop but had an eerie feel to it. No one was allowed to enter the room, not even for dusting and cleaning; Mr Ahuja used to clean it himself. He had memories attached to this room because it was in this very place that had led to his wife’s death. If only she hadn’t threatened to expose his addiction to the world, they would have lived happily ever after with a family of their own. Alas! Not everyone gets to live a fulfilling life. “I should think of happy things before executing my plan. Bless me my darling! Pray that I succeed.” Mr Ahuja laughed while talking to himself. He had found out from Shekhar that Roohi was quite fond of Lego blocks and his showroom had received the perfect game for Lego enthusiasts. He wrapped it in a beautiful wrapping paper to gift it to Roohi over dinner. Mr Ahuja planned to teach her a thing or two. Meanwhile Shekhar got busy with dinner preparations but not before he had sent Roohi to study for a while. He had started cooking as a necessity when he had decided to be a freelancer and stay at home for Roohi; but soon the necessity became a hobby that turned into a passion. Now, he enjoyed writing his own recipes. Shekhar wanted to wind up work at the earliest because he had offered to pick up Cyrus and Jennifer from their respective addresses for dinner. Jennifer resumed her research on Nikhil Rathod after finishing the work assigned by Tara; she hadn’t let her sit in peace even for a minute. “Thank God, Tara is leaving for a meeting tonight. Now, for the next two days I can concentrate on my research” thought Jennifer to herself.  Nikhil hadn’t left her mind for even one second since morning. She read and re-read each and every post on his blog but drew a blank about his identity. Even from the ‘About Me’ section on the blog all she could gather was that he was full-time blogger who loved to explore the unknown and was born with an adventurous streak. She knew nothing but his name for even a search on the social media didn’t generate any results. His blog catered to more than one genre; rather he experimented with everything that caught his fancy. There were posts about food, travelling, photography, gadgets, sports, restaurants, liquor… and a few about kids too. It seemed a little odd to Jennifer because so far it had seemed to be a man’s den and posts about children didn’t gel well with rest of the posts. Jennifer shook her head because it was least of her concern. She continued her research in the hope of finding the smallest information that could lead her to Nikhil Rathod, the man who has been eluding her for so long. After endless cups of coffee and never-ending research, Jennifer lost track of time. When she had all but given up hope for the day, a name caught her eye that made her frown in confusion. A click on the link and all the color drained from her face. Team logo Tandem Tensome “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.” 

Read the next part of the story here.

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A Road Less Travelled

 This post has been written as a part of Blogadda’s #CelebrateBlogging. My team is “Tandem Tensome” & this is the eighth chapter in the series. You can read the previous chapters here :  Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7

   Team logo Tandem TensomeTANDEM TENSOME

Dr. Raksha Bhat, Aditi Pathak, Sajal Kumar Aggarwal, Nandini Garg, Sammya Brata, Rathina Sankari, Swathi Shenoy, Swati Mittal, Sathya Narayanan, and Oeendree Mukherjee

 A Road Less Travelled

At Tara’s office, Roohi sat in a corner playing with her doll. Shekhar had remembered to take it along as he had stormed out of the house to reunite with his daughter who had been missing for a few hours. Cyrus had been kind enough to call him about his daughter’s whereabouts and also kept her company till Shekhar reached to pick Roohi.

Shekhar’s joy was quite palpable the moment he had set his eyes on Roohi and the only person he could think of sharing it with was Tara.

However, Tara wasn’t the one to ‘waste’ her emotions on her family because she had another child to love and that was her work. After giving Roohi an obligatory hug and a pat on the head, Tara was again consumed by her work. She did not show much affection or relief, which any mother would whose child has been missing for hours.

Shekhar, a mute and defeated witness to the entire spectacle felt no urge to indulge into another pointless tirade with Tara, which would be nothing but mentally and emotionally draining for him.

He was more worried about Roohi as he shivered to think about what all could have gone wrong in those few hours. Shekhar wanted to do everything in his power to erase this fear of separation from his daughter’s mind.

He crouched in front of Roohi, lovingly ran his hand on her head, and asked “Sweetheart, how about we get out of here and bring home a puppy for us?”

It turned out to be a good distraction as Roohi had been missing her mother’s affection especially after the incident. Besides this for quite some time she had been asking Shekhar to allow her to get a pet for herself.

She readily agreed but wanted to know if Tara will also accompany them. However, for Shekhar it was a foregone conclusion because he knew that under no circumstances will Tara ever compromise with her work.

“Roohi, mom has a very important meeting to attend, but what if I say that we will eat your favourite pizza and ice-cream too? “ asked Shekhar hoping that his plan will bring back a smile on Roohi’s face.

His prayers had been answered for Roohi’s eyes twinkled like the two brightest starts in a starlit sky. Love for animals was another thing that the father-daughter shared with each other and it also helped strengthen their bond.

Hand in hand with Roohi, Shekhar left Tara’s office without feeling the need to inform her about their plans.

In midst of an animated conversation with his daughter, Shekhar’s eyes once again chanced upon Jennifer who was haggling with an auto driver. It wasn’t the first time that he was meeting her; a while ago he had bumped into Jennifer in his wife’s office, where she had been hired as a photographer.

After settling Roohi in the car, he walked up to Jennifer and asked, “Hey! Can I drop you somewhere?”

“No, thank you. I will manage. It’s just that I am still finding my way around the city and learning how to bargain with the autowallahs.” she said cheekily.

On an impulse Shekhar asked, “Would you like to eat an ice-cream with us?”

“Us?” Jennifer asked.

“My daughter and I plan to get a puppy, dig into a pizza, and finish the day with an ice-cream” he said pointing towards Roohi.

“I am not so sure…” Jennifer hesitantly replied.

“The treat is on me and I will even teach you the tact of surviving in this city. Both of us have our reasons to celebrate this day, so why not do so together. I am assuming you don’t know anyone here, so we can be your new friends. What say?” asked Shekhar.

“I have a new job to celebrate but what about you?” Jennifer asked.

Shekhar gave a wistful smile and said, “Let’s exchange stories over pizza and ice-cream. We should get going now because Roohi is getting impatient.”

Always the one for new experiences and befriending people, Jennifer hopped into the car without reluctance.

They drove down a road less travelled and embarked on a journey that was about to give their lives a bizarre turn; a turn neither of them could have imagined.

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.” Cheers! 

Team logo Tandem Tensome

Read the next part of the story here

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Private India: A public disappointment?


Private India, co-authored by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson has been one of the most awaited thrillers. James Patterson is synonymous to grisly, spine chilling murders while Ashwin Sanghi enjoys weaving stories around mythology and history.

The setup for murders this time round is heart of Mumbai where both the authors have plotted a bout of murders and a murderer who continues to elude Mr Santosh Wagh, the protagonist of the book and the mastermind behind cracking this mystery.

He is also the head of the most elite investigative agency Private India – it is from here the book has drawn its title – that caters to the rich and powerful. Wagh carries with him a tragic past that left him with a limp and an unwavering addiction for alcohol. There are certain traits in Mr Wagh that bear a striking resemblance to Dr. House, the heart and soul of a popular telecom M.D. House.

Just like House, Wagh too has a team of three under him that include Nisha, Mubeen, and Hari who assist him in cracking the murders.

Private India is entrusted with a case where women are being murdered at random and a yellow garrote is left behind as a mark of the killer. Besides the garrote, the strange props placed on and around the corpse turn out to quite befuddling for the investigators.

The first murder takes place on the first day of Navratra, a festival that is celebrated over the period of nine days to worship the goddesses. In accordance there are a total of eight murders while the ninth victim is saved in nick of time.

The successive murders thicken the plot as well as the confusion by bringing in too many new characters. The multiple angles forced me to flip back to a few pages in order to get hold of the plot… again.

The next couple of murders introduce the readers to a gangster Munna who is also a feared druglord. His story pans out as a little boy who rebels against the then drug lord and takes over the streets himself. Munna enjoys quite a reputation with the rich and powerful of not only the country but world too.

Next in tow follows Nimboo Baba, a revered holy man who is worshipped by millions and considered to be the master of their destiny. However, Nimboo Baba is involved in every major crime and a financier of all the illegal activities. He too has a role in the plotting of murders.

There is a corrupt police officer too who has a habit of chewing ‘premium’ quality of tobacco bough from the black-market.

By now we have a detective, murderer, gangster, baba, and a corrupt police officer; the story seems to be a jigsaw puzzle of pieces ripped from different Bollywood movies. There are many more characters, but after a point I lost track of them.

While reading the book there came a point when I simply decided to skim or skip pages depending on my patience. The pace seemed to be quite a drag and after two hundred plus pages I couldn’t wait to keep down the book. I no longer wanted to know the murderer’s identity.

In the last few pages, the ninth victim’s melodramatic monologue and part conversation with the perpetrator again took me back to the much exploited scenes from countless movies. The book lacks pace, thrill, incisive narration, and novelty of concept. It turned out to be quite disappointing considering that the two luminaries of the literary world have authored this piece. More so because having read brilliant page turners by the two this book fell short of all my expectations.

On second thoughts I think I forgot to mention something: well, there was an impending terrorist attack that too by ‘Mujahideen’. Now, isn’t that cliched?!

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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