Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have been visiting this rehabilitation centre for suicidal teenagers for the past 20 years, counseling them and giving them advice. What surprises me the most is that majority of the cases want to commit suicide because of a distorted love life. It is astonishing to see how easily these youngsters take life, trying to put an end to it merely because of a simple break-up or a fight. My duty is to make them value their lives. For doing so, I tell them a story….a story about a young girl of 16.

“Aisha Sharma was probably the happiest girl on her sixteenth birthday. She had it all – a loving family, wonderful peers and her first boyfriend. It was all magical.

10th October was the day when she met him for the first time through a mutual friend.
“Hei, can I have your e-mail ID?” he asked
“Yah, sure!” she replied.
And thus, they got in touch. After a month of chatting, mobile numbers were exchanged and their bond grew stronger.

That fine sunny day, 12th of December, 14 days before her 16th birthday, as she remembered, he called her to the canteen area. She went there with a thought of confessing him her feelings. Yes! She had fallen in love with him. But before she could open her mouth, it was he who was kneeling down to her, saying those three words – I LOVE YOU. She blushed. It was like a fairytale. She got her Prince Charming.

Days passed by and so did the months. She was happy, jealous, sad and jealous again – through the different stages of any relationship. Sometimes, she’d suspect – What an intelligent guy! He could have got anyone. Why me? Is he double dating or something?” But the thought would be put out soon enough by his caring words.

A major turning point arrived when she turned 18, and they had gone to different states for college. But, like they say in the movies, when love is true, no barriers are enough to separate the lovers. And so they went on.

Soon the time arrived when they were getting married. She was 28 – a successful psychologist, while he was the CEO of a big company that made parts for vehicles. It was the wedding of the decade, or so their parents thought.

On their engagement day, just before the rings were to be exchanged, Aisha crept up to her soon to-be-husband’s room to call him down. Excited as she was, she entered the room without a knock and found the room empty, with his e-mail account open.
“No Aisha, it’s bad to check someone’s e-mail.” She thought.

But curiosity forced her to do what changed her life in the next few moments. She checked his inbox and found out that he had been dating three other girls at the same time; and there was this girl who was with him for the past four years.

“I’m getting married to her because she is too simple – just perfect for a wife. But she doesn’t have anything compared to you. You are way hotter.” One of the e-mails read.
“DON’T READ THAT” shouted the man coming out of the toilet, but it was too late. The damage was done and the marriage was called off.

She was deeply heartbroken, but eventually after two years, she recovered.

I end my story to the pretty 14-year old girl sitting in front of me.
“Did she commit suicide? Is she still alive?” she asks, awestruck.
“She rather chose to focus on her career, and yes, she is very much alive”
“Did she find someone else? Would I find someone else?” she asks again.
“She isn’t married, not because she couldn’t get anyone, but because she didn’t look for anyone. She is happy leading her life alone.
You are still young. You’ll surely get someone else. Many more, in fact.” I beamed at her.

Then the young girl’s eyes fall on my name plate tied near my collar. ‘Dr. Sharma’ it reads.
“Sharma? Is Aisha Sharma your daughter? Do you know her?” she asks, her mind flooded with curiosity.
“We know each other well.” I reply, somewhat sarcastically.
After the session is over, she leaves, content with herself and a new hope to live and be successful in life.

I have cured so many young girls and boys. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. My only wish is to cure myself one day.
So many things have changed since 2012. It’s been 34 years to be exact. But love seems to be more stubborn for it doesn’t change that easily.

Oh yeah! I forgot to introduce myself to you all – I am Aisha Sharma, 50 years old. I am a psychologist and I am still single.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


First crush is the most beautiful feeling in the world. It is a step towards adolescence, a sign of our maturing self. First crush is always special in everyone’s life.

I was barely nine years old when I saw him for the first time. He was mysterious; a handsome ten year old playing football in the rain, tall for his age with a great physique. And before I could realize that I had frozen at my spot, he turned around. I guess that was the start because his one gaze sent an electric shock down my spine. I turned around, feeling my cheeks go hot. I blushed for the first time.

Back at school, I found out that he was my senior. Never in my life had I so meaninglessly prayed to God like I did that day to make him my classmate. It was a big mistake, as I found out a year later because he had failed that year. Childish as I was, I was happy. He was in my class.

Gradually, our friendship started. He hardly spoke to any girl, but with me, he opened up, like we were best friends forever. He wasn’t good academically, but no one could beat him in sports. He used to fight with boys, but with girls, he behaved well. He was a mixture of opposites.

A year passed by. This time, he made it, but our sections were different. Nevertheless, we used to talk in the break time, or play together like the good old times. I was his best friend. He was my crush. My first crush. His eyes still gave me the electric shocks. My cheeks still went hot.

It was during the end of that session that I began to feel guilty. Secretly, I felt that it was my fault that he had lost one year. My fault that his friends didn’t respect him much because he had failed. All my fault!
So, I prayed to God again to make things all right. To make others respect him for what he is, not look down upon him for what he couldn’t be. At the same time, I finally decided to confess my feelings to him. It had been three years, after all. Yet I was scared. What would people say seeing me running after a guy who had failed? But I did mustere up enough courage to tell him.

Session break got over and it was a new class. Taking a deep breath, I peered into my class. He wasn’t there. I searched for him in the other sections too. He was nowhere. Petrified, I looked up for him in the junior class, in case he had…….no, he couldn’t have. I ran upstairs to the junior class. He wasn’t there either. I waited for him for a week. Then finally, one of his cousins said that he had left the school. He went away to a boarding school, which was more sport oriented than studies. He went away to a place where he was respected for what he is, not looked down upon for what he couldn’t be.

My wish came true once again. I was guilt free, yet horrifically sad. He was gone, forever. This crush continued for the next four years. I would always search for him in public places, just in case I got a glimpse. Four years later, my crush ended and so did the search.

Recently, I got a message from him in a social networking site. He still remembers me. I am still his close friend. And he still doesn’t know that he was my first crush.

Once there was a pair of eyes,
Eager eyes with truth and lies,
Eyes blazing with fiery fire,
Reflecting all the hope and desire.

Its one blink made me sink,
Caught me staring and gave a wink.
Suddenly my spine caught a chill,
My spirit jumped to the top of a hill.

But those eyes left long ago,
No chill, now life runs slow.
No one else has such eyes,
No eyes to make my spirit rise.

I miss many things in my life,
But never like I miss those eyes.
That gaze on me they’ll never lay,
The boy who had them has gone away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I look up at the sky through the large window. It’s filled with stars, sparkling with their entire glow. They are happy, a deep contrast to what lay in my heart. I look down at the ground far below. If someone happened to fall from there, they wouldn’t survive. I wouldn’t survive. Sigh! Should I take a step forward?
It all began about a month back. I had turned 23 and so, on my birthday party the main and the only topic of discussion was my marriage. I smirked it off like I did when I was young and people would tease me about my perfect groom. What I didn’t know was that people weren’t teasing me this time. They were serious.
My birthday passed and so did this whole fiasco from my mind. But the same wasn’t true for my uncle and aunt, who were my guardians. And hence, began the process of selecting a groom, to my great disapproval. No one cared to take my consent. All they were interested in was how to send me off from their home tying me in an almost unbreakable bond.
What no one understood was that I too had some dreams. I wanted to be a businesswoman. I had my own plans, my own desire.
“You can continue after your marriage. That’s how the 21st century women are.” is what they said. “Yah, I know, but I won’t be able to devote much time in my plans then.” I used to reply. However, it was of no use. So I pretended. It must have been really good because no one doubted a thing. They thought I had agreed. That was far from the truth. I planned, secretly. During this, I also learned that no human being is simple. Everyone has a darker side. I had to bring out my darker side. Because I had a dream to fulfill.
The most surprising thing of this arrangement was that it didn’t take much time for my relatives to find the groom, thanks to the matrimonial sites. I rejected many, yet somehow, nobody wanted to let go of this one. Corporate Lawyer, after all. His earnings were huge. Free as I was, I refused to be dependent on another person for a living, or to start my own source of living, as a matter of fact. As if he would allow me to follow my dreams after we tied the knots.
What followed the next few weeks was totally out of my understandings. No engagement, it was a direct jump to marriage. And today was the Big day. I was and am devastated.
And now comes the big question – “Should I take a step forward?” I smiled, went inside and came back with a bed cover.
The mirror seems so clean and bright,
Yet it has got two faces.
One day, while the other night.
Not what the world embraces

One face says it is honest
Claims it reflects the best.
The world thinks that is it,
The mirror is the perfect fit.

The other is darker but true,
Seen to the people so few.
Hidden and locked somewhere inside;
A side, the mirror can’t confide.

A lie is what’s outside
The wicked grin as I try to hide,
Try, but you can’t solve the phrases,
Coz my mirror’s got two faces.

And I fled towards a new world, towards my dream because I dared to envision it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


“Chai”, “Chai” yells Chotu as he tollers along the streets of his neighbourhood. The Sun shines brightly in the sky, as the young boys and girls line up to catch their school bus. Chotu stands and stares as the children hurriedly climb the bus. School seemed like a dream to Chotu.

As he looks at the crowded school bus leave with a splash, his thoughts wonder back to those days when he used to be a happy and content, though poor, child. His family consisted of a mother, a father, 2 elder sisters and a younger brother. His father owned a small piece of land in their village which he cultivated every year for 3 months. He also used to do odd jobs for the idle parts of the year. His mother worked as a labourer in the rich zamindar’s field. The total income was roughly adequate for two meals a day.

Chotu was a very jolly boy. He was a very good runner; in fact, the fastest among his friend. His friends used to call him “railgaddi” or “the train”. Though he never went to school, he was always eager to learn.

But the good times did not last long and Chotu’s family went into the dark. The marriage of his 2 sisters led to a lot of economic crisis in his family. They had to sell their land in order to meet the “demands” of the grooms’ family. They were illiterate and so was unaware of the fact that dowry was against the laws. Slowly, their conditions seemed to be improving, until one dreadful summer day, his father committed suicide, leaving all the problems upon him and his family. After that tragedy, he was forced to move to the city to earn a living.

He first joined a cracker making factory where he was beaten and subjected to the harsh effects of tobacco. He worked for 12 hours a day for a meager 50 rupees. Yet he was content. He dreamt of owning a shop someday. But luckily or unluckily, the police raided the factory, arrested the owner on charges of child labour and closed down the factory. Chotu was jobless.

He loitered around for 3 days without any food or proper shelter. Nobody was ready to give him work as he was younger than 15 years. Then one day, he found a job in a roadside tea shop. His work was to make tea for the passersby at Rs.4 a cup every morning.

“Ek Chai dena please!” Chotu suddenly wakes up from his thoughts. Handing a cup of tea to that kind looking lady, 12-year old Chotu says to himself “I’ll own a shop someday.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011


“Krisha! Get ready. We have to go to the hospital, remember?”

“Yes, Maa!”

For one hour, I could not find anything to write about. The end of my pencil was wet with saliva, yet my brain neurons turned extra lazy that day. The thing was that my teacher had asked me to contribute a poem for the school magazine. I loved writing poems. But that one fine day, I kept staring into the blankness until my mother called me out to accompany her to the hospital.

And there I was – at the hospital; a place I dread. The mundane walls, the suffering patients, the smell – everything – gave me a feeling of nausea.

“Would you come inside?” asked my mother, standing at the doorsteps of the doctor, she had an appointment with. I gave it a thought. The thought itself was so suffocating that I was too pleased to refuse. “You’ll never improve!” she sighed and went inside.

I was left all alone to wander like a lost cloud in that place. “Poem! What should I write about?” I thought. Hospital? The suffering people? Or the environment...

…..“Oh! I’m so sorry!” I absent-mindedly bumped into a poor young girl of my age carrying a tearful baby. “That’s fine” she answered in Assamese. She had a sweet voice. “Your brother?” I asked politely. “No, my son.” Saying so she walked briskly past me.

Back in the car, I narrated the whole incident to my mother, with whom I shared everything as she was very open-minded. This time, however, she said “Stay away from that sort of people.”

I knew what she meant by “that sort” of people. “Yeah! I should stay away from them.”

Next morning at school, I got a sound scolding from my teacher. The deadline was the next day and I hadn’t managed to write a single line of my poem yet. “Tomorrow for sure, ma’am.” I assured her. “Yes of course! That is, if tomorrow ever comes.” She sneered.

Evening flew in quite soon. “The Environment”, that’s the topic I decided to write upon. For some ‘inspiration’, I went for a walk. Being the adventurous types, I set out all alone on the streets.

“Sigh! What a life! My childhood days are slipping past my fingers and I’m here trying to meet deadlines.” I laughed at my own lame joke. Childhood! At 15!

As I continued my stroll, I came face to face with that girl I bumped into in the hospital the previous day. “Stay away from that sort of people.” I remembered my mother’s words. A toe out of the line just for this once wouldn’t matter much. Confronting myself, I asked her “What’s your name?”


I sniggered at her name. Pavitra meant pure. And she was anything but pure.

“So….ummm…how is that you have got a…a son at this age?” I enquired out of curiosity.

She looked at me for some time, deciding whether to trust me or not. Being the confidant in my friend circle, I knew she would tell me. And so she did.

“Like you, I loved moving around on my own, carefree. When someone tried to stop me saying that a girl should never go out alone, I talked back to them. Everyone says boys and girls are equal. If boys can enjoy their lives, why can’t we?” she took a moment’s breath and continued. “It’s a man’s world, my friend, we can never be equal. One night, I was savoured down by a hungry wolf and my son is the consequence.”

I was shaken. “Why didn’t you…..” Before I could complete, she replied “I am not a murderess. My son was innocent and so was I. Why should two innocent lives be destroyed while the guilt walks free on this earth?”

That was it. My mother told me to stay away from her, but I couldn’t. I bet my mother wouldn’t have said the same had she known the true story behind it.

There were many questions left unanswered. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to ask them to her. How does she manage her life now? With whom does she stay? How does she earn her livelihood? I knew nothing. I could ask nothing. The truth was that it was not I who had lost my childhood. It was she who did.

Reaching home, I sat down to write my poem.

“The Environment”. I stroke it off, and wrote instead –


There are times when things go wrong.

It’s okay! Be brave, be strong.

Sometimes, you don’t get what you long.

It’s fine! Be brave, be strong.

Sometimes, you feel very low,

Sometimes your day doesn’t glow.

Just hold on and go with the flow

Coz tomorrow will be a new show.

Valleys are not the end of a mountain,

Clouds never come down with the rain.

A true soul never goes in vain,

A true heart mustn’t go insane.

Yeah! Sometimes the road breaks down,

And buildings collapse on the ground.

Sometimes, you don’t know where you belong,

It’s alright! Be brave be strong.

The Sun will shine again, when equality prevails in real sense, when the innocent are not punished while the culprits roam free, when the society doesn’t become an enemy of its own fellow mates.

I do hope the Sun shines again someday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


There was an eerie feeling about the town of Duliajan, when I entered it. Located at the North Eastern part of Assam, this was the town I was born and brought up in. This visit was, however, the first time in ten years that I had made to my hometown.

I looked around, aghast. The once-charming houses of Duliajan were turned into ruins. It seemed as if all the colours of Duliajan had been sucked out and it stood before me – lifeless. Eight years back, the town met with an accident. Heavy leakage from gas pipes burnt out the whole town. Many survived, others died. And now, I was back on official work.

I work for an Oil Company. So, when a chance of visiting Duliajan came in, I grabbed it, and there I was.

A sudden halt of my car brought me back from my daydream. I looked to my right and saw a burnt bungalow.

“Strange! That didn’t exist before.” I said to the driver. He didn’t reply. He started the car and drove on till we reached the only remaining part of the town – the guest house, which was on the outskirts.

“Hello! I am from OIC, Mumbai. I’m here on official purpose.” I conveyed to the Receptionist. She nodded, smiled and gave me the keys of Room No. 13. The room was spotless clean. I freshened up and lied on the bed to take a quick nap. It was evening, but I was too tired.

Suddenly, there was an electricity failure and the window panes started fluttering with the strong winds.


I sat upright on the bed and looked around. Maybe it was the wind. No one knew my name out here. Next morning, I found my driver missing. I had to go to the field site on foot. As it was not too far away, the idea was feasible.

On my way I stopped in front of the burnt bungalow. It has some kind of an attractive force that I couldn’t deny. I went inside. No, there weren’t any cobwebs. It was rather clean, though time had worn out its walls.

Mitakshara”. I heard it again. It wasn’t the wind. “Mitakshara”. I went through the door and into the bedroom, half consciously. It was so dark. Hardly any ray of light reached inside. Out of the blue, a cloud started to take shape. Horrified, I rushed out of the door, and outside the bungalow.

I couldn’t concentrate on work that day. “I’d be leaving tomorrow morning and everything will be fine.” I repeatedly told myself.

On returning from work, however, I couldn’t contain myself and went straight into the bungalow, to where the cloud had formed. “Mitakshara! Please don’t leave me. I need your help.” I looked around to see a half burnt face of beautiful lady, floating in the air. I shouted in fright. I tried to rush out, but my legs were somewhat rooted to the ground. The wind blew hard. Enough to shut the doors and windows.

“What do you want?” I shouted

“Your forgiveness” replied the face.

“My forgiveness? But why?” I enquired once again.

“The pipe that had leaked eight years ago – well – it was because of me. I was a gold digger. So when my friends, out of a prank, told me that I’d find five lakhs beneath the ground, I went there straight away. While digging, I accidently stroke the pipe, making a slit in it. I freaked out. I could have told someone. I could have got it repaired. But I was ignorant. It was an isolated place, and so, thinking it to be my golden chance, I rushed away. Soon the nearby areas caught fire. It spread. So much that it got out of hands. Many people fled. Few tried to control the fire. All of them died. Guilt engulfed me. So, I jumped into the fire. Now, I’m compelled to stay on earth because my sins don’t let me got to heaven, yet my sacrifice won’t send me to hell.” She was crying by the time she finished.

I cooled down. “What will my forgiveness do for you?” I asked, slightly angry at her.

“If you forgive me, I’ll be free to go to heaven.” She replied. “But why me?” I asked yet again.

“Don’t you see,” she voiced out quite loudly, “You are the last remaining daughter of Duliajan. Those who fled were aged people or weren’t born here. You are the only one left who was born in this town. Your forgiveness will release me.” said she.

I was in a fix. “She is the reason my people got finished. She is the reason why Duliajan is not Duliajan anymore. She was the reason for all the doom. Why should I forgive her?” I thought and said –

“Yes. I forgive you.”

Her tearful eyes sparkled with a new found happiness and relief, and she disappeared.

When I came out the house, everything seemed bright. I felt myself rise from the ground and sour among the clouds.

Mitakshara! Mitakshara, get up. You’ll be late for work.” Said my mother, back home in Mumbai.