Finding Heart

Hello you guys!

I know I quit the blog for a while now, and I just posted a story last week (again, quoting that I’m really not coming out of hiatus). But, I can’t help it anymore. I am coming out of my break, having accomplished close to none of my hiatus-goals.

Seems depressing, doesn’t it?

Only, it’s not.

I have never loved myself or my life more than right now and I wanted to spread that very love over here on WordPress. Hell, I’d missed this!

I’d missed writing for no reason and actually resented my own book for streamlining me into boredom. I know it really is not boring, and I know that I actually have a piece of my heart etched into the plot, the characters, and the story line. But, I was sick and tired of forcing myself to write for my mind (which wanted me to focus only on my book). Now, I want to write for my heart and for the poor souls reading my ramblings.

Because, you know what? At the end of the day, all that matters is whether you spent that day following your heart or being prudent.

Can all of you swear that your entire day has been about the love you had for the activities you had carried out? I’m sure that most of you would frown and shuffle the topic away if I posed that above question.

That’s okay. I won’t be mad. I would react the same way.

As human beings, we are set in such discipline that survival, earning a livelihood, responsibilities, pride (yes, pride), and self-imposed rules all matter very much and influence even involuntary thoughts.

Have you really laughed out loud when you type ‘LOL’ into a text message? No? I didn’t think so. Then, why do you type it at all? It was force of habit and nothing else. You are hardwired into giving that reply.

Next time (when you actually have the breathing space for it; not when you are in an all-important hurry), question yourself. Live the moment as you see it happening and love the mystery of it all.

The human emotions.

The involuntary reactions.

The sudden gasp of horror at a slipping coffee mug.

Things like that.

There you will see the Heart in it. The Heart in everything you do and say and every way you choose to behave.

Love yourself.

Love,

Priya

PS : Totally random, and slightly insane. Definitely involuntary. I love it!

PPS : This is the kind of act I’m talking about! 😀

Amarendra Bāhubali + Devasena

Hi Readers!

I am writing after a long break, I know. Three things I would like to say here,

  • I am not returning from hiatus.
  • The story and plot are fully mine; whereas I have borrowed some characters from the world-famous Bāhubali franchise. Accordingly, I declare here that this is intended as fan-fiction only.
  • I hope you read this after watching both movies. It’ll be better that way. (but, it’s not a rule)

I’ve missed you badly, WordPress. And I am going to continue missing you. But, here is a short (long?) story for all the fans of Bāhubali out there.

Without further ado, behold the world of Amarendra Bāhubali.

Jai Mahishmati!

When Love is All…

“So, what you do you think?” asked Devasena. The fingers on her hands entwined with each other and shivered slightly. The woman in front of her frowned as she held Devasena’s right wrist.

“Shh,” she told the impatient Yuvarani. The veins of her wrinkled hand popped slightly as her grip tightened. The other hand counted rapidly off her fingers.

“Let her count in peace, Amma,” Karthiga whispered in Devasena’s ear. She nodded, but kept up the furtive rhythm on her foot. The many bells of her anklet chimed. A whiff of cool air from the fan Karthiga was waving towards her, made some hair at the back of her neck stand up. She forced herself to relax. The woman was ancient; she should be respected for her age and wisdom.

At once, Devasena stopped her foot-tapping. She let her fingers ease out of their tight hold.

That day had been very eventful. She had woken up at dawn for her usual prayers and had hoped that her husband would return. Her Amarendra Bāhubali was not at their home. He had started running drills with the new recruits for the Royal Army a week ago. Kattappa Ayya was his constant companion since. The prayers were followed by a nasty bout of vomiting. After a tense mental calculation, she had sent for the healer. Amarendra would have turned grave if she had so much as sneezed in his presence. She missed his warming presence. A flurry of emotions shook her as her thoughts strayed to him.

Her husband. It was disarming to call him husband even to herself. It was two months since their wedding, but she hadn’t quite wrapped her head around it. Devasena felt her mind scramble for sanity as she remembered the journey of their love. A neglected simpleton whom she had taken pity on. She laughed quietly. He was everything but a simpleton. The forced stoop to his shoulders had been easy to spot when they had met. But, the simpleton’s ‘Mama’ had vouched for him and she had quelled her doubt. One thing after the other proved that the ‘retarded’ Shivudu was no ordinary man.

“Amma,” interrupted the healer.

She opened her eyes immediately. Her senses fully alert, she managed to stop herself from physically shaking the frail woman.

“Tell me, Ammamma,” she asked softly instead.

In reply, the old woman smiled with a mouth having no teeth, and nodded at her. Devasena leaned back in her chair in a daze. Slowly, her lips widened and a red flush filled her cheeks.

“You have to be careful, Amma,” began the old woman. She held up a hand, and cut her off.

“Ammamma, I will listen to all you say.” She nodded to show her assent. When the woman frowned slightly and held the cup of her palm to her ear, she comprehended her partial deafness.

Devasena bade Karthiga close the door of the room. She raised the volume of her voice to speak to the old woman.

“I will do all that you say to take care, Ammamma. But, you have to give me your word for something,” she started.

“Anything, Amma. Tell me,” she swore and touched Devasena’s feet reverently. She immediately pulled her feet backwards.

“No, no. You are elder to me, Amma,” she admonished and gave her a seat.

“Please do not tell anyone of this right now. I ask you to do this for me,” Devasena begged.

“Of course, Amma. It will be like you ask.” The old woman held her hand and promised her.

“Now you can tell me what I should do.”

Karthiga brought forward a scroll and began to write down all that was said. After the healer left, Devasena asked Karthiga to remain quiet as well. Her prudence at being the Yuvarani of Mahishmati had kept the excitement at bay all along. Only when she had been left alone did the amazing news envelop her.

She was going to be a mother. The thundering heart inside her ribs had caught up to the fact. A small ache revealed itself and her arms wanted to be held in Bāhubali’s arms. His mischievous crooked smile filled her mind. The tingling in her arms intensified.

Her seat felt uncomfortable suddenly, and Devasena leapt to her feet to walk circles about the room. The pale blue silken curtains ruffled in the breeze for the evening had fallen then. One hand curved over her stomach. She looked down at it and smiled.

She retired to her bedroom and ate the food which had been set out by Karthiga. The girl was beside herself in excitement. And since she had been forbidden to talk to anyone about it, she chattered at Devasena. The pillows were fluffed and the sheet smoothed over the bed while Karthiga made a list of possible names for a possible baby girl. Her presence was soothing and she made Devasena giggle.

“What if it’s a boy, Karthiga?” she winked and asked her. The girl paused and dropped the cup of water she had been holding with a clatter and a splash.

“Oh no! I didn’t think of that at all!” she wailed in apparent distress. Devasena laughed happily at her expression.

“It’s all right, dear. Make another list,” she suggested.

“Yes, you are right, Amma. We can start with the Lord Shiva’s names! It will be perfect!” she had recalled the excitement over her horror. Devasena remembered Amarendra calling himself Shivudu when they had met. Lord Shiva. It would be perfect, she told herself.

‘What am I thinking? Amarendra does not know yet!’ her mind scolded her.

Karthiga kept up the flow of male names till she dismissed her. She had helped her remove some of her heavier jewellery pieces and draped a soft saree around her mistress in order to sleep comfortably.

The lights had been dimmed for only a few minutes when the room turned cold. Every night she had spent alone in Mahishmati had been alike. Her eyes moved to Bāhubali’s pillow. The sight of the empty side of the bed did not help. She sat up and pulled her knees up to her chin.

In her mind’s eye, she saw herself in their verandah. Her new pink saree fell in soft folds around her body. Amarendra was climbing up the steps towards her. The sun was setting softly right behind him. She checked her hurry and waited. Their eyes met. It arrested all motion and they simply stared. His eyes broke the spell and roved over her. The slight quivering in her limbs caught his attention and he started to climb faster.

He was a few feet away when she started to move. She let herself fall into the arms he held up at the right time. Something akin to ice flooded her veins as his fingers tangled in her hair which fell onto the small of her back. Her wrists locked themselves around his neck. The news she had been keeping filled her cheeks with a blush so deep that she placed her cheek against his. She didn’t want to look at his eyes directly.

“Tell me,” his voice rumbled through the whole of his body and she shivered.

“You,” she said.

“Me?” he asked.

She pressed her fingers into his shoulders. He tried to pull her away from his body to look into her eyes.

“No,” she ordered him. His hands stilled.

Her mouth breathed at his ear.

“You are going to be a father, my Amarendra,” she said softly. She let him loosen her grip and look into her eyes. Everything about him smiled. His eyes, his voice, his scent. The happiness oozed out of every pore of his body. She felt herself warmed to her core.

Back in her cold bed, Devasena hurt. She would tell him when he came back, she decided. Curling up into a foetal position, she dozed off.

Devasena dreamed.

The lotuses from her favourite pool spilled outside the bowl she had arranged them in. She had ridden long and hard for them. Her room was filled with their perfume. She wandered to the window when she had finished.

The sound of the fountain from the Kuntala palace courtyard was amplified to every corner of the palace. It was designed that way years ago. It was her home. It had been her home for years. When she had been a child, her sweet mother used to feed her food sitting next to the fountain. She smiled at the memory as she watched the droplets scatter into the air.

A soft song was heard as her sister-in-law walked inside. Music always accompanied her and Devasena felt all the sores of a day’s hard riding leave her body. They smiled at one another.

“Lie down and rest yourself, dear,” she said lovingly.

“I’m fine, Akka,” replied she. They had always felt their bond closer than that of sisters-in-law; she felt like her real sister.

The comforting thought shook her awake in the Mahishmati fort like good dreams often do. The sound of birds twittering at the windowsill aided the awakening. She cursed herself for the dream though. The truth was that she never admitted to herself the uneasy feeling her presence in the gloomy fortress caused her. There were only two souls inside the oppressive fort walls whom she trusted. Her Amarendra and their Kattappa. She knew no one else. No one knew her.

It had unsettled her, but she had never alluded to it. The vows he had made to her had rooted her firmly to his side. His love watered the roots consistently.

“Amma, you have to eat more than that,” chided Karthiga.

“Stop babying me, dear,” Devasena rolled her eyes.

“No, eat more,” said Karthiga and she ladled more dal into her bowl.

“I can’t. I’m nearly full,” she said.

“I don’t care. If Ayya was here, what would he say?” she glared. Devasena laughed.

“He wouldn’t know what you were hinting at. He’d probably never notice,” she replied.

“I will tell him word by word until he comprehends,” Karthiga retorted mischievously.

“You crazy girl!” said Devasena in alarm.

“You ought to tell him, Amma. He would celebrate a big festival if he knew!” she exclaimed.

“Just think of all the sweets and music and – “ she trailed off into wondrous thoughts.

“Silly Karthiga! Go and do something else.”

The girl jumped out of her reverie at the sound of her mistress’ voice and blushed before walking away with the empty dishes. Devasena was restless. Her young companion had reminded her of her dream from the previous night. If only Akka were here, she wondered. She would wait on her hand and foot. She would forbid her from even lifting up a finger. The idea of keeping her in one place amused her.

There is someone else who would be overjoyed at this, she reminded herself. The Raja Matha’s perfect circle of a face swam to the forefront of her thoughts.

Sivagami Devi. Her Amarendra’s mother. She sighed. She should have been by their side. She would have felt more at home in that grim fortress if Amma had accepted her. One warm look was all she had wanted. Even then, one loving motherly look was all it would take. One hand raised to bless them would be enough.

Amarendra had believed that his Amma would love her as much as she loved him. Little did they know then that she would give them both up. She would choose her pride over her love. Devasena had often thought that it was her who had transformed the palace of her dreams into an oppressive dwelling.

She turned restless. Her head snapped up from its bent position.

‘What is the matter with me?’ she thought. ‘This is the matter of Amarendra Bāhubali’s child. Who am I? Yuvarani Devasena of the Kuntala race. What am I waiting for?’ she asked herself. She rose and called to Karthiga.

“Amma?” Karthiga asked.

“Tell the guards to get the chariot ready. I am going to the Army Headquarters,” she ordered. Karthiga flew outside the door as soon as she heard her words.

Devasena’s bangles clicked together as she wrung her hands. She put on her soft slippers and waited. With Karthiga accompanying her, she went towards the chariot.

“Where to, Amma?” asked her driver Nallu.

“You sit in the chariot. I’m driving,” she replied.

“But – “ started Karthiga. Devasena knew that she was going to allude to her condition and hurriedly shook her head. Nallu was perplexed at the girl’s interruption because he had been asked to step aside from the driver’s seat several times by his mistress. Shrugging, he stepped into the back.

Devasena got hold of the reins. The horses cantered like the winds were chasing them. It was a short ride because their residence, the residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mahishmati Royal Army was quite close to its headquarters. She passed the reins to Nallu and bade Karthiga wait there with him.

With every step, there was singing in Devasena’s ears. She forced herself to watch her feet. She knew that Amarendra would be in the training yard behind the building. So, she did not bother to walk to the door. The guards saluted her as she passed. When she reached the archery range, the guard running the drills there stopped the entire body of soldiers.

“Wait just a minute, Amma! I will bring your favourite bow!” He made to run back to the building. She stopped him with a raised hand. Her head shook and she greeted the soldiers with a Namaskara as she walked past them.

The sword-training section was right ahead. The singing in her head swelled to include the music of her Amarendra’s voice.

“You see how I twist the sword away from the enemy?” he fairly shouted to the watching trainees.

“Like this?” There was a clanging sound as a sword was dropped.

“Let us show them again, Krupa,” he said.

The group had converged around him in such a way that she was not visible to the centre of the ring. Some of the boys at the outer fringe spotted her and bowed. The circle slowly parted and silence grew.

“You have to hook your sword in a lock-grip around the enemy’s. That is very important. Do you see?” he was saying. There was no murmur of assent. Puzzled, he looked up to see Devasena standing there.

“Devasena?” he called.

“I do not wish to interrupt – “ she began to say.

“You never interrupt me,” he said, confusedly.

“Amma, when did you come?” boomed a voice behind her. Kattappa rushed up to the scene.

“Soldiers, what disrespect are you showing?” he demanded.

“No, Ayya. I should not disrupt. I will watch the training till it’s over,” Devasena said.

“But, Amma,” said Kattappa.

“I will wait here,” she said. Amarendra began to speak.

“Devasena!” he called. He gently obtained the sword that his partner was holding with an apologetic word.

“Will you join us?” he shouted to her. Her eyes sparkled with pleasure. Within seconds, the pallu of her saree was wound around her waist and the girl who fetched water for the trainees found herself guarding a heap of heavy jewellery. He was holding out the sword hilt-first to her.

The metallic sounds of their swordfight filled the area. The trees around the courtyard swayed with an unnatural breeze. They used the flat of their blades to demonstrate their moves. Bāhubali paused often to describe a particularly clever move of Devasena’s to the trainees. She glowed with pleasure at the incredibly proud look on his face.

All the while, she was having trouble breathing coherently around her husband. It was getting in the way of her prowess.

‘He’ll never stop teasing you if you give in to that!’ yelled her brain. She trimmed her focus hard.

For a change, Amarendra found himself fumbling a lot. His wife used a counter trick to resist him twisting the sword off her hand. Despite his best efforts, her sword stayed on and his slipped loose from his grip for a second. He immediately stopped and had her demonstrate it to his soldiers. A strong rush of pride enveloped him as she did so.

After about an hour of sparring, they stopped. A huge cheer rose from the soldiers for their Commander-in-Chief and his Yuvarani. Kattappa beamed happily from his view on the verandah. The girl brought her jewellery back to her with a cup of water. She flabbergastedly ran away when Devasena offered her one of her rings as a token of thanks.

Amarendra laughed at her shock. She gave him the water to drink. He gulped down a few sips and gave her the rest with such a look of mingled pride and love that her breathing hitched.

“What?” she asked him.

“Nothing. I wish we did this everyday,” he said wistfully.

“What is stopping us?” she demanded.

“Will you really come everyday?” came his question with an eager look. It was then her turn to laugh.

“If you want me to, I’ll be here,” she replied, putting her hand in his.

For a second, he glanced down at their fingers entwined together. He started leading her away from the crowd. A soft breeze came up and the sunny courtyard turned cooler when some clouds blew up across the sun.

“I wouldn’t say everyday,” he said.

She felt stung.

“You don’t want me around everyday?” she questioned.

“Hear me out, first. Today was wonderful. But, it reminded me too much of the day I first met you – “ he began.

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“Devasena, if I think of that day, I’d get d-i-s-t-r-a-c-t-e-d. Obviously!” he replied looking into her eyes.

“Oh, that,” she said, colouring softly.

“Wait one minute here, all right?” He seated her at the roots of the banyan tree and went to speak to Kattappa Ayya. She watched his hair blow back in the wind and smiled to herself. It had gone on long enough. She would tell him as soon as he came back to her. Right there. Right then.

She stood and waited for him. His profile slowly turned and started walking back towards her. She wanted to run and fling herself into his arms. She would scream the happiness at him from right there, she decided. He was only a few feet away.

Time to move, thought Devasena. She took a few jogging steps in Bāhubali’s direction. He smiled at her. He has no clue of the news I bring him, she giggled out loud. Her right foot struck a small protruding rock and she tripped. Of everything that flashed through her mind, she chose the nagging in her arms to fold themselves across her abdomen, protecting the baby.

Amarendra watched Devasena jog towards him. ‘Am I not coming right to her? What impatience!’ he thought as he moved faster. Suddenly, she was falling forward out of balance. The only thought that struck him was when he had held her waist to stop her falling during their boar-hunt in Kuntala. His hands shot forward by instinct to hold her back by the same waist.

“Could you not be careful?” he asked of her when she had steadied. When she did not reply, he went on, “What? Are you going to accuse me of pretending to be a simpleton again?”

She found her mind reeling for a minute. Amarendra was speaking to her and she paid no heed. Her arms were still around her waist. His arms rested lightly on the palms she had placed on either side of her hip.

“Don’t you feel that this is a sword-wielding hand n – “ he was saying when he noticed that his hands weren’t actually on her soft waist. Her hands had wound themselves around her waist and had blocked his own from holding it.

“Devasena, what happened to you? Don’t you remember that you should raise your hands to your head if you find yourself falling?” he asked in scandalised tones.

“So that you protect your head from smashing?” he continued.

She breathed out very slowly. Her arms loosened and caressed the small bump of her belly.

“Are you even listening to me?” Worry and uncertainty laced his voice.

Devasena was recovering from the scare she had had. Her baby would be safe, she thought with relief. He would be fine, her mind told her. With a rush of affection, she realised that it was going to be a boy. ‘How silly had I been to think otherwise?’ she thought. Her heart still thumped nervously. Her surroundings came back to her all at once.

“It’s going to be all right. All right,” she crooned under her breath, both to herself and the baby.

Amarendra’s touch disappeared from her body. She looked up at him. He seemed to be lost for words. A calculating, questioning look appeared in his eyes. He cocked his head to one side and gestured towards her caressing hand.

She smiled. He was surprised by the wink her eyes offered. Dawn alighted into his eyes and they widened with pleasure. Devasena wound one hand around his neck and pulled him closer. He waited with a bated breath.

“You are going to be a father, my Amarendra.”

The End

I very much enjoyed writing this one and I look forward to writing more. I am particularly interested in Bhallaladeva’s background. Let me know in the comments if you guys would like to hear about that! 😀

Love,

Priya
PS : This pair is my current obsession! ❤

PPS : Do you see the level of craze I have over them? 😀 🙂 ❤

The Battle of Magic and Logic

Hello, hello, hello!!!

Do not be alarmed by the much-too-cheerful greeting, Reader. Life’s been a see-saw since last we spoke! I’ve had my high moments and really low moments, and I’ve had enough of regrets to last a couple of months. The greeting is just a pale attempt to perk the see-saw upwards.

Why do I regret, you ask? Good question. I haven’t the answers myself, yet. It’s all messed up and in my head. So, I’ll let you know once I know. Sorry!

Let me ask you a series of questions myself.

  1. Have you ever pinned all your hopes on accomplishing something which you’ve dreamed of?
  2. Have you ever imagined a sequence of events which were so beautiful that you wished that your life would go through that sequence just for the sheer beauty of it?
  3. Have you ever admired something or someone so much that you prayed you’d get it or get those admirable qualities in yourself?
  4. Were all these followed by a stupid epiphany from your lame-ass brain which points out all the laws of common sense that these wishes defy?
  5. Were you as flabbergasted as a mermaid who finds herself wishing to walk the earth?
  6. Did you curse that lame-ass brain for killing the dream and smashing it to smithereens?

Welcome to my life!

The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately is this : why does the brain always get in the way of the heart?

Sure, everyone dreams. It’s a rule of the humanity in you that you yearn for that successful showbiz career, you dream of that shiny red Porsche, and you ache for that beautiful girl you’re head over heels in love with. Lesser known is that mind voice of certain individuals which always fights to defy those unrealistic dreams. It’s sometimes mistaken for common sense, but believe me, it’s the Devil in the Brain.

Of all the times I’ve cursed myself for these thoughts, they had just laughed a croaky laugh in reply and bestowed a cruel smile. I know they speak the real world to my heart and dissuade it from being broken to pieces, but who doesn’t love being lost in the midst of dreamy clouds?

*sighs loudly*

Ah, well, I can probably cook up a different dream in my heart, which might last another few weeks till the brain gets into super-protective ninja mode.

Have any of you had this experience? Tell me about it in the comments!

Love,

PPD

Learning to Love the Little Things

Hello Reader!

It has been quite more than two weeks since my last post, and seeing as that one was weird, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of writing here again. But, no matter. Writing is one of the most joyful things that occupy my time, so, I am back!

Okay, this post is going to be about the stuff named in the title. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of negative emotions: guilt, because I wasn’t finding enough time to write my novel during the weekdays; physically bloated, due to all the junk I was consuming to overcome the aforementioned guilt; stressed, due to some work deadlines. And I realised, I was betraying one of my most basic characteristics. As a rule, I am a sunny person, who loves the happiness in the smallest of actions.

(Seriously, if you were my soulmate, all I would want from you is a simple ‘I love you’ a few times in the day. Chuck that diamond ring in the garbage can.)

So, naturally, I was flabbergasted when I realised this. This post is going to be a wake up call to myself.

  • Happiness is Mom calling you at 6 in the morning to wake you up (followed by one of your best friends at 6:15)
  • Happiness is rubbing your chilled hands together in the cold when you go for jogging in the park
  • Happiness is the view of the rising sun as you finish one lap
  • Happiness is the wind whipping across your face as you drive back home, all sweaty from the jog
  • Happiness is singing along with the track when you chop the vegetables
  • Happiness is lighting the lamp for Krishna every morning
  • Happiness is catching up on your reading during lunch break
  • Happiness is giggling when Mom and Dad video-call you
  • Happiness is spending ten minutes with your protagonists (even if they don’t progress much in that little time)
  • Happiness is ranting to your best friend about the unruly characters in your book
  • Happiness is smiling for no reason just because you felt like it
  • Happiness is scrolling through your Facebook news feed trying to fall asleep

See, what I mean? Everything one does as a part of an everyday routine is for some reasons. The deepest, most profound of them being that they make you happy. Somehow we have learnt to forget this most important one and would rather focus on how each activity is a burden on ourselves.

We worry about wasting time cooking when we could eat at the office canteen. We get irritated when we slug through our morning walk, slightly sleep-deprived, in the winter cold. We complain about not finding time for ourselves.

But, you know what? These things you struggle to make yourself do everyday? They are in your routine because you know they’re right. And if they’re right, they make a small part of you happy. And if you are dumb enough to ignore that small satisfaction or blind enough to not see it, this is your wake up call.

Be happy, be content. Love the things you do.

Love,

Priya

The End-of-Year Ramblings

Hello everyone!

Okay, I know I swore I wouldn’t make this blog again about apologizing for the long waits, but I kinda owe you an apology anyway. So, sorry I couldn’t make it all these days. The explanations include NaNoWriMo, family time, and hectic office work.

Anyway, coming to this post, I have mixed thoughts right now. There will be three topics in discussion.

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo

  • When I decided on plantsing, I did not think it through. I surely did not anticipate that my meagre plans could be so inadequate as to split the book into TWO books.
    1. Do enough planning when you choose plansting.
    2. Be prepared for anything your characters might throw at you. Run of the mill writer’s block is only a small problem; anticipate bigger ones like change of plot or as in my case, book-splits.
    3. Don’t give up due to the offered intimidation.
  • When I started this battle, I did not break down a definite writing schedule to retain my inner muse by my side. She kept slipping away from my outstretched arms.
    1. Offer delicious temptations like chocolate or sweets to keep your muse alive and kicking in there.
    2. Devise schedules after consulting your muse and external factors like your day job and necessary travel; make sure she respects the written word.
    3.  Don’t give up due to unmet and nonexistent schedule deviations.
  • When I sat down to write, I did not empty my work area of unnecessary distractions. And I do not just mean the physical objects sitting on my desk.
    1. Put off social media. Period.
    2. Use WordPress to push your everyday writing to new heights; do not shun blogging as a loss of time when you should be concentrating on your novel.
    3. Don’t give up due to social media distractions cutting into your writing time.
  • When I was at a loss for words, I did not switch to things which inspired me to come back. YouTube and a bunch of sitcom DVDs took precedence over the classic books and prep talks from NaNoWriMo authors.
    1. Use a personalised browser while writing with bookmarks to all your inspiring blogs sitting in plain sight.
    2. Think about using notebooks to write and find a transcription buddy.
    3. Don’t give up due to a few minutes lost in watching a funny video, you can still catch up.
  • When I panicked, I did not shut my ears to the stupid panicked-voice justifications coming from my throat. I listened and heeded her dumb advice.
    1. Block out that voice which a writer is quite familiar with, the one that talks of the lameness of your plot, the mediocrity of your heroine, and the possibility of an infinite time period to finish the work.
    2. Talk to your loved ones, friends and family, who believe in your work and provide the right kind of encouragement.
    3. Don’t give up because your silly brain brings up the worst case scenarios, which won’t ever happen.

The Welcoming of the New Year

Another year has gone by!

I know I sound like a television anchor, but I can’t help it. I know everybody’s going through a case of muddled head right now. It’s two days from New Year’s Day, and I for one, have been having unsettled thoughts about my life.

What have I accomplished in the past year that I hadn’t in 2015? What will I do next year? Have my lessons gone to heart like they should have? What new things did I learn about myself? Am I a better person now?

All these questions swirled around me menacingly for the past week. And I find the following post to be quite appropriate.

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Forgiving that poor creator for the spelling mistake in the last line, I realised that that is exactly where I am. Wondering whether I’m being silly this past week or whether those questions actually matter to me. But I figured that understanding oneself should be an ongoing process, and if these questions have posed themselves, I might as well answer them.

I now present the ten things I realised/experienced/went through in 2016.

(in no particular order)

  1. I am thoroughly excited by my novel, and I hope to finish the first book in the first couple of months of next year.
  2. Family is very tough to handle when one hits the 20s. Especially when you’re a twenty-something and female.
  3. Being selfish about your physical, emotional and intellectual health is the first step to happiness. And I believe this selfishness should start at this age.
  4. My idea of a great day involves good food in my tummy, a beloved book, an hour or two spent at a happy place and conversations with my favourites.
  5. I am very specific when it comes to setting my room to order, cooking a meal in my kitchen, or planning to visit a place. Except for my used-clothes-chair, everything needs to be in perfect order.
  6. I actually discovered that I have a ‘type’ when it comes to guys! *wink*
  7. The cancerous cells to my wellness are laziness, distractions (sitcoms, YouTube, social media), and daydreaming.
  8. I have developed a previously nonexistent whim to grow my hair long, which is going to be difficult with my curly mop and its tendency to have awful hair styles when grown past my shoulders.
  9. My skincare regimen and makeup ideas have reached new levels of obsessiveness.
  10. I have magic workout sessions, a couple of which are enough to make me satisfied with my body and give up.

They are just the ones which popped into my head in the immediacy of the summon. There is much more where that came from.

The Resolve to Blog Regularly or a Blogging Hiatus

Okay, I know there is an oxymoron right there in the title. Sorry!

In all seriousness, here is what I wanted to say.

I solemnly swear that I will blog at a regular interval of seven days starting from this post, on defiance of which I will adopt a blogging hiatus for until such a time as I complete writing the first book of my two-part novel.

 

There! Those are the three topics which I wanted to talk to you guys about. I know that it has been a very long post, but I hope you have enjoyed it.

Anybody else want to comment on their NaNoWriMo? Or put forth their New Year’s message?

Please do so in the comments below and have a great time this weekend!

PS : I am planning on a large tub of popcorn and a Harry Potter movie marathon. What do you think? 😀

Airport Love Scenes!

Hello Reader!

Well, I think it’s high time for another post, don’t you think? So, here I am!

Okay, so basically, with this post, I’m hoping to accomplish two different things.

One : Get rid of one of my littering short story drafts.

Two : Write a new post.

There you have it! This is going to be my first short story! Choosing from my unfinished drafts was going to be the most difficult part. But, I guess writing it is going to be that much harder. I hope you’ll like the story anyway!

 

Happily Ever After with a Twist

The first warning bell sounded ominously at 8:35 am on a Monday morning. I was walking past the University Office. Wishing I had wings on my feet, and cursing the six buildings I would have to cross to reach my class, I broke into a run. My breaths came out as clouds of mist in the crispy-cold air.

Beta Arjun, I swear I will kill you if I miss class today,’ I swore silently.

Arjun was my roommate and he had a very weak stomach for alcohol. His alternate drunken-swagger speeches and retching sounds had kept me from sleeping the previous night. And since my attendance percentage had reached its limit, there I was, hopelessly winking the sleep out of my eyes and running towards class.

I reached the Civil Engineering Department and took the stairs two steps at a time, and where I could manage it, three at a time. The second bell rang over my head. I placed my sweaty palm on the newel post and swung my body around at every landing.

“It’s alright, it’s alright, I’m here, I’m here!”

Without thinking, I made a loud announcement as I arrived at the door of my class. The clang of the final bell was lost in the laughter from my classmates.

“That is enough.” Professor Senon’s quiet voice broke the loud hoot and silence was instantly restored. He waved me to my seat and turned back to the blackboard.

It was an amphitheatre-style classroom and I had to hide my embarrassed face at every step I climbed. Finally reaching an empty table, I plopped down my bag and placed my hot forehead on the cool tabletop.

“Good morning, students. Yesterday was our introductory session on Beams and Lintels. So, today I will be going into the topic in detail….”

Professor ‘Unstoppable’ Senon started his unstoppable droning. I tuned him out. His expression of mild annoyance a few minutes ago was actually an unusual phenomenon.

Professor Senon usually made his entry a calculated two minutes before the bell, and if the class hadn’t been scheduled as the first one of the day, he paced back and forth across the doorway until the previously presiding teacher left. His exit was also similar, exactly two minutes after the ending bell. He spoke to nothingness and made copious notes on the blackboard which the people on the first row of the class fervently copied onto thick notebooks. His list of eccentricities was endless.

All the lost sleep caught up to me and I was glassy-eyed asleep within seconds. After Professor Senon left, I shuffled out of the class like a zombie.

‘Coffee, coffee, coffee,’ chanted my brain as I made my way to the Coffee Room on the second floor.

The line in the Coffee Room was tediously slow, numbing my brain in the process. I was parched, dead-on-my-feet, and dangerously low on sugar. Shuffling slowly to the beginning of the queue, I felt someone elbow me out of the line and edge in. Bleary eyes not co-operating, I took a large dollop of will to mentally pinch myself awake then.

All I could see was this rippling waterfall of dark-chocolate hair and could hear a short, barking laugh. It was a girl. I tapped her on the shoulder to have her spin around, almost whipping me in the face with her huge mass of hair.

“I was in the line first,” I stated robotically.

She smiled wide, showing her pearly teeth.

“Yeah, my friend was here before you,” she literally trilled. The friend in question turned around and pulled his eyebrows together in a frown.

“So?”

The caffeine-deprivation had not given me the miraculous phenomenon of courtesy.

He can get his bloody coffee, and you can go to the back of the line, if you please,” I finished somewhat icily.

She blinked twice in those round, dark eyes of hers.

“I don’t think so. I think I’ll just stay right here.”

She spoke each word carefully as if talking to a child and turned back around to chat with her friend.

And that, that scene was the beginning of my downfall. You could also call it uprise. It depends on who you ask. I am Pavan Deshpande. And this, this is the story of how my life changed.

Six weeks later

“You never listen to what I say, Pavan.”

Sitaara’s arms were crossed and her lips set in a hard line. That was always a bad sign.

“What have I done now, ma’am?” Sarcasm dripped in my voice. I’d never been more angry in my life. Nothing is ever good enough for this damn woman. I struggled to compose myself as I looked at her, but I failed miserably.

“EVERYTHING you do is pathetic, you know that?” she yelled at my face.

“Yeah, well, you’re not unpathetic yourself, Tara!”

“At least I don’t suck at every single thing, you loser! And learn some grammar, for God’s sake!”

This is the way most of our fights began and ended. There was never a limiting point to them. They began with both of us angry and ended with both of us angry, avoiding the topic of the fight henceforth. You could imagine that we’d had a pile of stuff which was untouchable in our conversations.

Sitaara Mittal was the bane of my existence since that silly cutting-the-queue incident. She dogged my senses and ruined my days. After all of the nonsense subsides, she’d always end up saying, “I so love the way you love me, Pav. I don’t ever want to fight again. I’m sorry!” and wink those shimmering irises at me, and in that moment, I wouldn’t want anything different from that.

The way she cared about animals she found hungry on the street, the way her eyes glittered with unshed tears as we watched romantic movies, and the way she scolded her mother on the phone for ignoring her diabetes medication, all of it was so sweet to behold. But, the way she kept ignoring my warnings about walking on the street at night, the way she criticized my clothing, and the way she squandered her pocket money on her undeserving friends.. I wished I could throttle her into sanity when these happened.

Seven months later

My mind was swaying between two thoughts.

‘Should I tell Tara?’ and ‘Should I not tell her?’

‘If I tell her, she’ll yell, and she really hates whenever I do this,’ and ‘If I don’t tell her, I’ll feel bad, and she hates it when she finds out later.’

‘But if she yells, you’ll yell too, and then you’ll have a fight,’ and ‘But if she finds out later, she’s gonna yell even more.’

It was the worst day ever. Such a simple thing, and it had evoked so much drama in myself. I couldn’t be afraid of her reaction forever, could I?

I sighed heavily. She turned around with an inquiring raise of her eyebrows.

“We have to talk, Tara.”

The seven months with each other had been beautiful, but they had not been bliss. It was not the best idea to place two ferocious wildcats into the same cage, or in our terms, we were simply too different, too clashy, and getting on each other’s nerves for the simplest of reasons.

Yes, I still thought her the prettiest girl I’d ever met, and I loved all those things about her which I’d admired from the beginning. She cared about me and loved me still. But, this was for the best. We both knew so. After all, what relationship lasted when the participants did not get along at all?

Eight years later

The cold air blast made my eyes water. I’d just stepped out of the cab and was walking towards the entrance of the Delhi airport. February chills were always pleasant here.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend Arjun’s wedding. Five years ago we’d graduated and promised each other to stay in touch. The only call I’d received from him since then had been this invitation four weeks ago. I didn’t mind going despite that discourtesy because it was also going to be a reunion of our batch. I was quite excited to see how everyone had changed over the years. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the line at the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was she. She was of the same height, and I spied the same long, dark mass of hair. It was also the same pale sandy complexion. Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then a minute later, when she turned, she proved me right.

It was Tara. My mind scrambled to get out of the line and hide behind people. I hadn’t even known she was living in Delhi as well. We’d broken up just before college ended, almost six years ago. All the piled up conversation about our differences had left no actual conversations available for us, and we’d ended it on mutual terms. But, to see her again, now?

It seemed so impossibly cruel, and I cursed Arjun and his stupid wedding partly for it. What do I do?

I was pretty confused. She was at the head of the line, and a few minutes later, walked out of it, with her boarding pass in her hand. I ducked a little behind a tall guy in front of me, and peeked at her carefully.

My jaw dropped in a second. Her other hand was resting on the shoulder of a little boy, who looked to be about three years old. She was rapidly talking to him with a little animated look on her face. Her features hadn’t changed much, just a different hairstyle, and a nose stud winked merrily there.

Her boy walked with a spring on his feet and nodded happily at what she said. They took their seats a few feet away from where I stood in line. I was still bewildered about how she’d gotten married and had a child so soon after college. I have no idea how I got through the line that day. Ten minutes later, I was poised to get out of the line with my boarding pass. God, this is the worst thing, I thought.

I walked right into her line of sight, and suddenly, the little boy dashed off from his seat, and she looked up to call him back.

“Gautam! Kahaan jaa rahe ho?” she called out. Gautam ran right up to me, and stopped. Something clicked in his eyes, like recognition. And I was astonished. Sitaara had gathered up her carry-on luggage and ran up to him. Spotting me, she skidded to a halt.

“Pavan? Oh my God! It’s been ages! Gautam, do you remember Pavan Uncle?” she trilled with the same voice as on the day I’d first met her.

“What do you mean, he remembers Pavan Uncle?” I stage-whispered while blinking confusedly at Gautam.

“Oh, I’ve shown him pictures of you,” she whispered back.

Suddenly, as if he’d recalled his manners, Gautam put out his hand for a shake, and tremulously said, “Hello, Uncle.”

That one nervous look brought the dark eyes he’d inherited from Sitaara to focus, and I fell hard for the kid in a second. I brought myself to my knees and shook the whole of his little arm.

I grinned wide then. That day, I learned Tara’s story. She’d graduated and gone to her hometown with a job offer for a reputed IT company. Her parents were offered a good match for her, the groom worked with the central government here in Delhi. They were married then and she moved to Delhi. Her work had been curtailed when Gautam came and she’s been on a break since. I heard all about her loving in-laws and husband Ram.

I had had my insides churning when I saw her on the line before. All that initial embarrassment at meeting an ex-girlfriend, that too after she’s married and a mother, faded off completely as she spoke. She talked of old times as beautiful, funny stories of the past. And fondly remembered all our fights, and narrated them to her boy. Gautam was a darling child, he laughed at all the right places. She fussed over him a lot.

To my surprise, I felt normal. Any weird feeling I might have got, I never did get it. We boarded the flight together, and had a marvellous time in Bangalore. It got me thinking.

There were going to be awkward meetings throughout life, it would have been even more so if I’d been tugging a wife along by then. Then, I thought of all those years in the past when meeting ex-lovers was considered taboo, and men especially took extreme pains in hiding the stories of their love life.

But, this, this is the 21st century. People fell in love and committed themselves to relationships much more easily than they did years ago. They were much more individualistic and particular about their lives than before, and were bound to discard love interests after closer scrutiny. And of course, people were going to be running into their forgotten pasts around every corner. It was of no use to be scrambling around on eggshells about it. The fondness and magic will just be re-interpreted as a sweet memory. All Sitaara had been to me.. I now thought of it as a story, in which I’d had the time of my life.

Looking at her, struggling under the weight of a comfortably sleeping Gautam, I’d felt happy for how her life had turned out. As I dropped her off with her luggage at her home, I thought to myself, “All was well.”

The End

Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Priya

PS : I know my November 1st post for NaNoWriMo is due, but this draft was sitting in here for ages.

PPS : Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

PPPS : Will be back in two days with my official NaNo kickoff!

The Reader in Me

Hello everyone!

It’s been a long time! How have you all been? How’s autumn treating you all? Here in Bangalore, it’s been through a really warm couple of weeks with a blinding sun, then turned rainy and foggy two days ago, and my body’s been venting out with a racking cough and a blocked nose. So, I’m not enjoying the new season yet.

News from me would be several : finished outlining my novel to have a smooth NaNoWriMo this year, Diwali shopping is done, celebrated two birthdays in two weeks for both my roommates, exulted over the fact that my bestie Ishu released her second book recently, aaanndd started my re-attempt in everyday workouts!

(For explanations, NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month, follow the link for more details, and Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, exuberantly celebrated all over India, falls on October 29th for the Tamil-speaking Indians, and do check out Ishu’s book here and here and here!)

This post is inspired by my friend Nandini’s post. This is a detailed listing of the kind of reader I am. Speaking as a small-time writer, I cannot stress enough on the importance of the reading habit. It brings you inspiration and happiness beyond measure. It warms your heart and cools your head. Reading is one of the most joyous experiences endowed to mankind.

So here’s my 21 facts about me as a reader.

  1. I like to read several books at once (recent addition to this list).
  2. I read sitting up, lying down, walking, and other ways in which the book remains steady.
  3. Sometimes, I plug in my earphones and play soft songs at the smallest volume level which remains audible, while reading.
  4. I can read in trains and flights, but not in cars, or anything on the road; something about the sharp turns makes my head swim.
  5. I always have a currently reading book in the Harry Potter series, ever since I finished them for the first time in 2008.
  6. I am recently loving logging on Goodreads, and I update progress with book quotes.
  7. I cannot give up food while reading, so I switch back and forth between hard copies and soft copies of the same book while not eating and eating respectively.
  8. I absolutely ignore sleep calls when reading and have a record hours of sleep lost due to engaging books.
  9. I started reading due to a magazine called Gokulam, which my Gammy introduced me to when I was about 10.
  10. My most-read genre is fantasy.
  11. My second most-read genre is suspense/mystery.
  12. I re-read so much that I go through even Funny Stories for Six-Year Olds several times, being 22 myself.
  13. I like physical books most, but I would accept Kindle e-books, and badly formatted pdfs if that’s what I get.
  14. I like to visit the bookstore in any place I visit just to smell the books. Sometimes, compulsively making sure I step in despite being in a hurry for something important.
  15. Anyone borrowing my books will be under subconscious policing by me until they return it.
  16. Books over movies or TV series’. Always.
  17. Non-fiction tires/bores me.
  18. Book ratings start at 3 stars in my head. Never lesser.
  19. My Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016 stands sadly at 15/52. And I am currently reading 7 books at once.
  20. I dream to read more realistic books, getting out of my comfort zones of Suspense and Fantasy.
  21. Comics do not capture my interest much.

There you go! That’s my list! Comment back about your reading habits, or follow my plan and do a blog post on it!

Thanks to Nandini for the idea behind this one! 😀

Love,

Priya

PS : Too many hyperlinks in this post, please bear with my excitement for sharing.

PPS : This is my sixth blog post, and the next one will be the seventh, seven being the most powerfully magical number. Hoping for something magical! 🙂

PPPS : The image is for representational purposes only. I do not have such a beautiful bookshelf. Although I would appreciate it very, very, very much if someone thinks of gifting me one. 😉