REAL STORIES
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Friday, October 20, 2017

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The plaintive cry of a lone peacock fractures the silence. Croaking egrets chorus from clumps of reeds at the foot of these stone walls and ramparts. There are snorts and bellows from buffalo. Two calves splash about, the mother’s wet horns and back steaming above broken reflections that come and go between drifts of morning mist.

I stand on the edge of a translucent marble plateau; the Taj Mahal. My friend smokes one cigarette after another. This is the calm, he says, “before the throngs of tourists that will come, as surely as the monsoon.” I lower one hand over the edge and run my... Read More

Wishing none had to travel this path, but knowing too many do...

Looking into your beautiful eyes I read your thoughts. Your eyes speak..saying..." I am here, I am so very tired...but I am still here." I know this is the last fight of your life. What glory I see blossoming now in you. Is no longer about a long life...is simply about a real authentic life. Something in your soul reaches out with all the courage and defiance you held inside for so very long. All the times people made you feel "less than", unimportant, no longer useful. I use to cry for this, as I felt your pain... Read More

I’m startled as the nurse draws the curtain behind me, the click of the rings on the rail loud in the quiet of the ward; the sweet smack of cough mixture wafts through the room. I turn away from Sally, my long-time neighbour having a tough time but recovering well. First it was her heart, then a fall; hence the hospital.

Hedley is the old-timer in the next bed. His eyes are half closed, his breathing laboured. He lay coughing as the nurse tucks in his sheets with a quick glance across the bed to Sally. The nurse’s look is sombre and Sally tugs at my shirt sleeve and whispers, nodding... Read More

A dancing doll bobs on a string of beads slung from the top of a grimy windscreen, swinging back and forth like a hypnotist’s watch. The emaciated figure has a white beard and is dressed in a loose-fitting skullcap and long tunic of white. Meet the Indian mystic Sai Baba of Shirdi; a holy man, guru, sufi or saint, who may have been Muslim or Hindu – nobody seems too sure.

I’m taking an open-sided auto-rickshaw – túk-túk in local speak – from the office back to my hotel. The trip takes an hour now that Mumbai is awake. Roller doors shuttered this morning are now wide open. Teams of tradesmen... Read More

‘I have sent for you and I am glad to see you. I am going to talk to you after awhile about your relatives who are dead and gone.’ – Wovoka, Paiute Indian prophet – Walker Lake, Nevada, USA (1890)

From Pierre I catch the first available flight to Los Angeles, then home to find my father frail and tired beyond his years. He whispers something in a raspy voice. Leaning closer, I can’t make anything out. Tufts of grey hair sprout from his nose. There’s no follow-up sentence, and he drifts off into some morphine-laced dream.

That night I dream of a father I never really knew, and... Read More

So I was going to show my parents that I could make my own decisions. I was also lured by the Army’s commercials; I wanted to travel and see the world while serving my country. So one day I marched into a recruiting office and proudly declared I wanted to join the Army! That day I met a woman—an extremely tall and beautiful African-American—Sergeant Noble Fields, who saw in me a “troubled child.” We made a connection, and she took me under her wing.

I was still not sixteen and could not join the Army, and I would still need my parents consent. Sergeant Fields offered to keep me busy... Read More

I was in my first years, when that incident happened. Joined an engineering college in Coimbatore and had to endure a lot to push through the first six months as a newbie. Staying away from home, constant humiliation from the seniors in the name of ragging, pressure of assignments and class tests and above all the daily struggle for adjusting my stomach to the hostel food had made my life a mini hell. Though each day felt like a struggle to survive there were many memorable incidents which were much exiting and some most weird. Such an incident happened around the curly hair of two of my... Read More

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