Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pujo days

The Pujo days are passing in a frenzy of people, of culinary delights, of sharing, of getting ready and reaching the pandal(temporary temples built for the days of the Pujo with a life size clay model of the Goddess Durga) for the anjali(prayers chanted in sanskrit for the Goddess) followed by scalding hot khichuri bhog,
the queue for which is actually the penance part, if you consider the temperatures here now, hovering around 44 degrees, with at least a minimum of 30 people ahead of you, Your sins are definitely getting paid for here. The temple precincts do not allow footwear so we just about barely stand, most of us, me included are continuously doing a jig to help keep the feet in minimal contact to the burning marble floor, and inspite of this there is laughter every where, not much of spirituality beyond the anjali though.. its only then that we bow our heads and concentrate on the mantras, once that is through and the flowers we held in our hands have trajectorily reached the feet of the Goddess, we are back to watching who's wearing what, how deep are the blouses this year, or how wide, what's the latest in jewelery and who adorns the biggest shades, yah I know.. it sounds terrible when I put it down in words.. but believe me its great fun, its bonding too, when a group of us stand jiggling our burning feet, waiting for our turn to reach the end of the queue for the bhog. Entertainment is also found in the stream of announcements on the mike saying things like "Many of you have not yet paid the annual membership fees, please reach us at the main gate counter and pay your subscription', there are also announcements like,"Children please refrain from refills of the bhog, there are many waiting', the children I notice are really not very keen on the bhog anyways, they just want to go back to the air condition of their homes, its just the pull of their parents that has dragged most of these kids from school and brought them to the temple in the crazy heat of the afternoon. These announcements never go without a loud rejoinder, which is most of the times taken in good spirit. A lot of laughter, a bit of bitching, seeing new faces and missing ones that have left, is usually the synopsis of Durga Pujo days of an expat like me.

Away from home, I can hear the bells and the dhak only when I call up and my mother in law holds the mobile out for the dhaki's beat to travel all the way from Jhargram to Muscat, the beat makes my son dance and it brings to my mind the house, the people, the joy of those five days, the phone is snatched at times by a family member, urging us to return, to be there for the pujo, saying repeatedly that very few hands to work, the elders are really getting old again before a response the phone is filled with the aaroti mantra and the dhak beats the clanging of the cymbal and the mood just sets in like every passing year that I have stayed away from Jhargram, its a mix of sweet nostalgia, of pride, of belonging and of being away from it all.

Its Maha Ashtami today, the most looked upon day of the Pujo, the best Saree, the best jewellery, the best food, the best of everything is saved for this day, itsthe day when the Goddess is worshipped with 108 diyas and garlanded with 108 lotus flowers, for me this day, the Goddess comes to life, when I look at her eyes, I can feel her looking right back at mine, and the difference between time and space suddenly ceases.

Take a look at this video to get the feel of the Durga aaroti

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When the Goddess comes home..

A huge house, adorned with pillars. Blue wooden shutters charmingly interrupting the vastness of the white walls. A garden that is resplendent with flowers and foliage, a sky that is an unspoilt blue, the clouds white and fluffy, the laughter of girls, the tinkling of trinkets as feet run from one room to another followed by gentle admonishing of the elders, a perfect setting for spending the upcoming Durga Pujo.

The inner courtyard is being washed, the veranda surrounding it opens to various rooms, at the moment all occupied by family that gathers every year during Pujo, the uncles the aunts, the children who have grown from snot flowing, rib showing, naked boys and girls into responsible young adults, still carrying their peculiar childhood names though. They are cousins together for a week of homecoming. The small kitchen adjoining the courtyard is busy since the early hours of dawn. Meals are being prepared, tea is being made, vegetables fresh and green lying in careless abandon, there are aunts with their easy gaiety sorting and cutting them, placing the cut vegetables in big copper vessels filled with water, instructions flow as to what is to be made for lunch, a special request for a particular dish, anecdotes remembered, easy banter, laughter flowing from the kitchen into the courtyard to merge with the excited voices of the sons of the house, brothers gathered from all over the world for a week of homecoming.

Trays of tea and biscuits, men ranging from the age of 30 to 60 or more, in white cotton pyjamas and plain shirts, sitting around reading a newspaper, one of them humming in a soft but audible voice the tune of a favorite Rabindrasangeet that they had all learnt as kids.Each doing his own stuff, an easy silence with a palpable bond. This is the house where they grew up, where they studied and taught each other, The house where they married and brought their wives, the house that saw their children, the house that saw the deaths of their parents, the house they decided to keep coming back to every year for Pujo.

The two storeyed house has a room on the terrace. A favourite haunt of all the cousins. As kids they ran to this room after their crimes, none of the elders had the stamina to follow them up there, so they felt safe, since those early days this room has become a part of them, a confidante, a fellow conspirator, it has listened quietly to them talk about their plans of stealing pickles from the kitchen cabinets, about the jaunts to the pond to float a few paper boats while the elders nap, it has smiled silently at the mention of their boyfriends, it has listened to them discuss career options, it has been an island of calm in an otherwise chaotic house. Apart from Minoti di (the maid) none of the elders come here. The room opens to a huge terrace overlooking a pond full of water lillies and a field beyond. Standing here you can see the rail tracks and as children the count of how many trains went past was an interesting game, now though the trains still pass , they are usually overlooked, the water lillies are in focus more now. The boys come up here for a smoke or two, Minoti di takes care of the cigarette packets lying in the room, she doesn't have to be told anything, she knows these kids since they were born, shes almost as old as the house, the living arm of it.

Today is very special, the mothers are all fasting, the courtyard looks beautiful with the alpona(designs made on the floor with a paste of rice flour and water), the goddess is coming home today, It is shoshti (the first day of Durga Pujo). As kids the cousins eyed the fresh narus(small balls made with freshly grated coconuts and jaggery) that were made on this day, now as young men they are busy adorning the Goddess with jewellery, and the girls..well they have to think about their jewelleries right? This is the only time of the year they deck themselves up in beautiful muslin and antique gold jewellery, narus will have to wait. There is a spring in the step today, a roar in the air, Pujo has begun. The dhakis have come, the dhunuchis (a smoking mixtures of camphor, incense, tinder and coconut husk) are ready, the purohit is here, the brothers are still in their white cotton pyjamas and plain shirts, their wives in beautiful sarees of white and red look so perfectly mismatched to them, but its always been like this, the young girls are a sight to behold and the young boys busy with what they say is their 'barir pujo'!

I can so easily lose myself in this house, this is a very common picture to all Bengali families who have had Durga Pujo in their own homes, the days take flight, the nights full of chit chat, the early morning gathering of flowers, the 5am baths, the naividyas and the proshad, the chandan(sandalwood paste) and the bel pata(bel patra are the leaves of the wood apple tree offered for Pujas), the sudden sighting of a good looking bloke, the unconscious re arranging of the hair, the nudging, the teases, the smiles..its all a part of each one of us, isn't it? And when we bid adieu to the Goddess after those 5 days, we bid adieu to all this as well, like her, we go back to our daily grind, with the faith that "asche bochor abaar hobe!" Yes, we will get back again next year and every year following that!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faxes, awards et al..

What does a slow and sluggish and a bit of a dimwit female on the wrong side of 30 do when she's offered a job? She says "Naah, I am to comfortable to do a job at this old age. what about my late mornings? what about my chats with Aparna? what about my blogging?and most importantly what about the money that this same industry didnt pay me when I worked the last time for them?" And that's what I said "Naah, not interested" and went back to the hot romance I was reading.

The offer is good though (if it does materialize at the end of the month into cash). Hours are good too, just the mornings, and the work is editorial which is damn good, coz I love to write and research on stuff, so I turn around for a bit on the bed and do some head scratching, and think about the kids, who come home only by 2:00 in the afternoon, I do some nail biting too and then finally get up and call my friend. There's a green signal from him, and then there is a"way to go" from Aparna, and suddenly I am quite upbeat about the whole thing, I actually go and get a head massage and a facial done..whoa!!

So I am in office the first day, it feels good to be working after a gap of more than 13 years. Yes it does, the boss comes around and says there's a package enhancement for you, just have to help with some admin work as well(alarm bells start to blare real loud now, I can also see the warning reds and the skull signs). This is how the conversation goes

Boss: "Hey welcome on board."

Me: "Thank you"

Boss: "You are in a lucky frame, your package has been enhanced, you would just have to do a bit of admin work as well."

Me : (alarm bells are blaring)"Admin work!! I am not sure, not at all sure!"

Boss: "Hey don't put a tag of admin per se, see its a start up company, we are just doing everything ourselves as of now, Its not a big outfit, there's hardly any admin work apart from some filing and correspondence, am sure you will be able to do it just fine."

Me: "I am very disorganized(read I am a mess)"

Boss: "We are there to help each other"

Me: "I cant stay a minute beyond 12:30"

Boss: "Yah yah yah I know, you have made that perfectly clear"

Me: "Okay lets do it then"(am having a bad frown during this entire conversation)

So I go to my workstation, start the PC and am ready to roll. Here I am comfortable, this is my core competence(hmm the lingo is coming back!) I make a time sheet and start my work for the upcoming annual publication. All goes fine till....

Boss: "Here are a few letter I have written, you will have to coordinate a bit so that we can meet these guys the coming week and have the interviews ready. Just fax them all before leaving today."

Me: "eeeeeeeeow"( fax sounds like such a male thing. And like all males I have to chk it out first.)

I go over to the Hp fax-copier-scanner object lying so very elegantly in the corner. Looks devilishly innocent. Nothing like the fax machine I knew 13 years back. I hate technology and the way things get updated/outdated here. The manual is in french(heaven knows why?) Being a female and so always ready to ask for directions I ask the boss how to fax, he is as clueless as me.. he always had somebody to do it for him he says. Hahahah he's so mistaken about me. So I take a look at the manual again, it shows a glass and for the life of me I cannot see a bloody glass anywhere on that machine. So this is a conversation I am having on the phone to help me use the fax

Me: "Hi! are you free right now? I need you to guide me through this fax machine, I have to send a couple of faxes"

He: "Okay, so you see a fax machine in front of you"(must have said God forbid!!)

Me: "Yah, I see that"(cursing my luck and swallowing my pride)

He: "You have to put the letterhead face down and allign it to the glass surface to the bottom left corner, are you able to do that?"

Me: (Thinking where the hell is the glass?)saying,"umm hmm ok"

He: "Dial the number now"

Me: "Where is the glass?"( A deeper gulp and a bigger chunk of the pride goes down)

He: "What?"

Me: "The glass.."

He: "OHOHOH..the glass, there's a hinge from where the machine lifts up there's a glass inside"(I can see the smirk so clearly now)

Me: (admiring the devil of a machine and looking from where to tear it apart so that the glass is finally visible)

Wonder of wonders, like the magical cave of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves the machine comes apart to bare a polished glass surface to me, Its actually a wow moment for me, and I take a deep breath and cherish this. After that its fairly simple and the faxes get sent. Eureka!! there's no end to learning is there? Even at my old age huh!!

So amidst the major core competence of writing and the minor pitfalls of admin work, the job has completed 2 weeks and must say I am quite enjoying it. There are wow moments almost everyday, there are busy friends who stop in their tracks to reach out and help, there are the kids who look proud that their momma is working like most of their friend's moms, there's a part of me feeling like a kid and a part of me that's wondering deeply about all the people who find time to be online from work, to chat and blog to do so many things and still work!! That's way beyond the comprehensive powers of a dimwit over 30, lazy and sluggish female who is happy to have sent her faxes well! But inspiring never the less...

So am passing on a few awards that I got recently to people who multitask from office and do it successfully!

To Nona, Ramesh, Kavi and Spike I pass on the Inspiration award

To Sakshi, SJ, Rush and Deeps and another Deeps I pass on the Zombie chicken award

The Zombie Chicken Award

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words.

All of you are free to pass it on at your convenience, there are no set rules from me..have fun !!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Death is never final part II

Days passed, just the way they do. There was work, there was the usual inter office chit chat, and the evenings in the studio. Everything was the same apart from the incessant tug at her heartstrings for reasons Priya was not willing to accept. Since that day, Arun had not returned to her office, and yet every time the door opened, her gaze wandered from her files, every time she saw a well dressed man of around 6 ft walking on the streets, her pulse quickened. She was surprised that the realistic and practical capricorn in her had taken flight to a realm of fantasy that was totally unknown territory. She did not know her path, she did not have a clue as to how she could possibly deal with her feelings for a guy she had seen only for a few minutes. This was unreal, and yet she enjoyed her fantasies of him walking in once again, repeating the lunch offer..

Life has its own set of rules, the rules we cannot decipher, but looking back the dots can be connected to form a perfectly clear picture. The days of summer were merging into unexpected drizzles, The Gulmohars had given way to the greens of freshly washed leaves, of small puddles on the streets, of little children in raincoats, of hot teas and pakodas. On one such day, Priya saw Arun again. She could never miss that face, the face she had etched in her mind since that breezy summer day. She was elated to see him, and yet her nature did not allow her to take any initiative. She decided to walk to where he was standing alone at a kiosk drinking tea from a kulhad, Linens she noticed, white, so impractical for the season and yet the most beautiful apparition. Casually leaning on his parked bike, Arun in his white linens made her heart flutter like the paper boats in the puddles. Trying very hard to control the upsurge, Priya walked past Arun. "Hey there!" he said. She made a mental note to add his tenor to her list as she turned to face him. Trying to deny recognition and failing miserably, she managed a smile. "How about some tea?" was the question asked, Throwing caution to the wind, probably for the first time in her life, Priya replied,"How about a ride on your bike?"

The days that followed were a collage of unbridled hues. Validating the connection Arun had felt on the first day and Priya acknowledged now. The colours of their romance matching the oils in her mother's studio - vibrant, delicious and out of the world. There was not a place in town that did not witness the growing love between these two. They met each others parents. Arun and Priya's mom bonded from the day they met each other. They were both kindled spirits, souls that were barely attached to a physical presence almost bursting at the seams. Arun's parents welcomed Priya into their lives. They were happy that Arun had chosen such a bright and goal oriented girl for a partner. Things were blissful. There were moments when priya was enveloped in her dread of relationships, when a part of her could not trust Arun, when she felt she was headed towards disaster. These moments though far apart did emerge and the only solace was also provided by Arun. Talking to him at odd hours of the night calmed her, renewed her new born faith in men. Knowing that he was available for her 24*7, to meet her moods and assuage her fears strengthened Priya as nothing had ever done before. She emerged a stronger person, a calmer spirit. She said 'thank you' with a smile when an unknown person complimented her looks. She was changing before her own eyes.

Priya's mom's health had been failing slowly. the doctors did not come up with a diagnosis, but they were not giving much hope. The lady of course was undaunted. She carried on with a vigour that was getting harder to harness. Priya asked her one evening if she would be pleased to see Priya married. Not a woman to impose her desires on her daughter, she said marriage did not count, she knew that Priya was safe with Arun and that was all that mattered to her. Priya wanted her mother's active participation in her marriage. She wanted to treasure the moments in snaps and videos. She just had her mother for family. She spoke to Arun about this. they both knew that every passing day was taking a bit away from the woman Priya loved the most in this world. They decided on a date in the early winter months for the wedding.

The wedding date just a few months away, everyone got busy with the preparations. the days were getting shorter and Priya's mother's health was taking a serious down turn. Yet she shopped for her daughter's finery with the enthusiasm of a child. Priya had blind faith in her mother's choice, so she left her at it and followed her with a camera clicking away the emotions so clearly marked on that vibrant, fading face. The practical side of Priya knew that time was short, very soon she would have to say goodbye to the lady who had given her life. She found her strength in Arun to cope with this lurking tragedy. She hid her tears behind her camera as she shot the smiles of her mother.

Life prepares you for some tragedies and swirls the others on your face when you least expect it. It was an ordinary evening. Priya was reading a book to her mother, when the call came. The call was from a Bangalore hospital. They were asking for Priya. Arun was in Bangalore on an official trip. But the call was not making any sense. there was a lot of static on the line, and they kept repeating the word ICU so many times that Priya slammed the phone down with all her might. The call came again, immediately, the ring like impending doom rattled her nerves. She felt a wave of nausea take over. Unable to understand what was going on, Priya's mother took the call. After a few minutes on the phone She took Priya in her arms and quietly held her, as her daughter shook and retched uncontrollably. There was a bell ringing somewhere. Arun's parents were shown in by the maid. They had come to share the grief of losing their son with the two people who loved him equally. This was a loss no one was prepared for. The young man, so full of life, to be married shortly, the shoulder whom Priya had banked on to shed tears for the impending loss of her mother was suddenly unavailable, just like that, like a harsh stroke of black on the oils of her mother, destiny had played its wand again.

There were no words, no thoughts, no hope of saying anything any more. Leaving her mother and Arun's parents in the hall, Priya went up to her room. walking in a daze, calling his cell time and again only to hear 'cloud9' playing. She hallucinated that any moment the song would be cut short by the familiar tenor of Arun saying,"Hey Love, everything alright?" She felt her knees buckling under her, she felt that wave of nausea again and she fell in a heap on the floor of her room. She woke up with a splitting headache and sense of weightlessness. In a state of confusion and delirium, walking on the threshold of insanity, she found herself slitting her veins and the pool of blood that formed on the floor helped her focus on her present loss. As she saw the pool widen, her mind cleared. The house was quiet and dark, everything seemed unreasonably normal. She could feel the soft breath of the sleeping house, and in that moment of calm she could see Arun. Arun was her calm, the man she trusted, the man she loved beyond her own limits. Arun was there sitting at the edge of her bed as she lay in her own pool of blood. She wanted to reach him, she wanted him to take her in his arms and say its a bad dream, but none happened, there was a chasm between them that could not be bridged, and yet he was there just a hands length away. She was too tired to talk to him, to ask him what happened? to ask him if he was scared when his time came so unexpectedly for him. There were so many questions on her mind and she was so drained. She just kept focusing on that face, on that figure sitting on the edge of her bed. it was then that Arun spoke, or she thought he did. "I love you Priya, always focus on that. Never doubt it. This is not a breach of trust, I did not plan on leaving you. You must believe. I will meet you again on this side of the chasm when its time. Till then.. I will be in your smiles, though difficult they will come through. You have me Priya in life as well as in death."

There was an eerie calm in the light blue room. The monitors beeping at regular intervals, the crisp sheets that tucked her in on a high bed. She looked around to see a few nurses and her mother. She blinked and she heard her mother saying something faintly. She could not get the words, she could not make sense of anything, she drifted back to sleep. the next time she awoke, things were clearer. Arun's parents were by her bed. His father stroking her head, saying how glad he was that she is ok, that he couldn't bear to lose everything at his age. It struck her again, the finality of Arun's death, it was not a nightmare after all, it was real. She felt the stab of the pain as she looked at her wrist and saw the bandage, and then she remembered Arun as he was sitting on the edge of her bed. She remembered his words, she looked at his parents, who had aged considerably in the last couple of days, they looked frail and yet their concern was Priya. In those few minutes, she decided to live. To live till it was time to meet Arun again.

The recovery was smooth and in a couple of days Priya was back home. The recent string of incidents had taken their toll on her mother and she was in a stupor most of the time. The times when she seemed focused, Priya talked to her about life after death. She told her about how happy and at peace Arun looked. She held her mother's hands and told her how pain free and illuminated life is when the soul is free. Her mother knew all of this, and yet she listened in awe to her practical, distraught daughter. She tried to make sense of what she saw in her stupor, she saw Arun too, she saw his hand reaching out for her, and then again she saw Priya preparing her for the journey.

It was on a cold morning in January that Priya's mother breathed her last. Priya and Arun's parents were with her throughout. There were tears, but Priya was not inconsolable. She knew, she had to live till it was time for Arun to reach out for her again. The coming months saw her shift to Arun's parent's flat. She lived with them and it was a very natural progression for her. Seasons changed, and slowly Priya found her foothold. She adopted a baby girl and her canvas was coloured again by the pastels of a child's smile.

The End

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Death is never final...

An entry for the story competition started by ZB.

It was summer. The gulmohar tree just outside her window was laden with vibrant orange blossoms. the morning, shades brighter by their colour. Priya was late getting up today, so her usual luxury of a few minutes to herself with a hot cuppa had to be skipped. Hurriedly she dressed. The blossoms in mind, she chose an outfit in muted orange silk. She was aware of her beauty but not carried away by it. She knew that her long and soft tresses of mahogany made heads turn, she knew that her hazel eyes and earthy complexion never went unnoticed. Her figure was full and her gait naturally graceful. Yes, she was aware of it all, but it didn't really matter to her, she brushed away compliments at times casually, at times with a degree of annoyance.

Work was her life, she was focused, she was determined and more importantly, she was good at it. She had inherited her looks from her dad, but her indomitable spirit and focus was that of her mom. Her mom, who had brought her up single handedly, who had worked two shifts, so that Priya could never feel the lack of luxuries. Her mother was the face of joy, a life that lived to the brim, that looked sorrow in the eye and crushed it by the balls, a life that was inspiration to Priya. Her memories of her dad were like old photographs, dusty and sepia toned, the edges tattered, the smiles forgotten, they just existed in a part of her brain, like a lot of useless things that need to be thrown away someday, too insignificant.

Today she did not have the time to ponder on such facts, she quickly kissed her mom goodbye and almost ran to the lift. Her day had started on a hurried but good footing. The boss came to her desk and approved her plans for the coming segment. Not only that, she was also praised for her innovative ideas. With lingering traces of a smile she looked up to see a young and well dressed man standing in front of her. "Arun", he said his name was. Arun had some queries which were addressed and cleared by her in a quick and efficient manner, which was her trademark. In spite of herself, she noticed that Arun had a very well groomed appearance, he was quite tall, definitely above 6 ft, his hairstyle was neat and his face aquiline. A conservative style of dressing and a polite demeanor. Quite an eye candy she thought as she saw him leave.

Maybe it was the breezy summer day, the flush of youth, Cupid's arrow, or any such excuse, but Arun could not erase the face behind the counter from his mind. The aloof smile, the bright eyes, the soft halo of hair that lined her face, the way she spoke, her soft , well modulated voice, in sharp contrast to her brisk manner. Images floated in and out of his mind's eye like waves licking a meandering shoreline. At lunch time the next day he was again at Priya's office. He was not a man to beat around the bush, not a man of many words either, he was straight and he was implacable. Yes, she was indeed beautiful. Today she was in beige, the colour enhancing the depth of her eyes. There was no recognition in them however, he noticed. The face that had conquered his dreams had apparently not given him a second thought. It did not matter of course!! Everybody need not believe in love at first sight. Arun's steps did not falter as he walked towards her. There was neither flamboyance nor plea in his voice or words. The voice was confident, the words were clear. "I came here with a query yesterday, and I am back today to take you out for lunch and get better acquainted with you. I hope you have no pressing engagements". Priya had heard lots of pick up lines, but never such an honest one. She vaguely recollected the face, her eyes noticed once again the careful dressing and the neat hair. For an unknown reason she felt angry. She could not show temper, as his words did not beget that, neither could she act offended, because she was not. She was probably for the first time at a loss of the right thing to say. She saw no reason not to go for lunch with this man, he was handsome, he was well groomed and very polite. And yet..why should she? What for?..just because he asked? She had learnt to say her 'Nos' very early in life, she never minced words and drew very good boundaries. "No, I am sorry" said Priya, "I don't see any reason to go out with you, please excuse me, I have work to do." Polite, firm, and final. A slap would have shown better prospects thought Arun.

He could so clearly see what she could not, at least not yet! There were things that defied explanation and logic. There were things that were meant to be. Smiling to himself he turned to leave her office. Priya's evenings were made by her mother. The small studio in the ground floor of their building was her mother's haven, she made pottery, ceramic ware and quite a few oils, the place was like the woman..spirited, vibrant, and non fussy. Priya loved being there and see her mother work. It rejuvenated her. Today she kept the incident of Arun to herself, used to telling everything to her mom, she was surprised at her own reticence. There was something about the guy, something genuine that had the capacity to filter through her years of mistrust of the male species. Given a chance, he would sweep her off all her notions of love and betrayal. And that was what scared her.

"Somethings on your mind Priya..spill it out", said her mother still turned towards her canvas. "Nothing really Ma, just some guy who wanted to take me out for lunch." Priya didn't have to say it, her mother knew that lunch had not happened. Why was it so difficult for Priya to get into a relationship, this was not the first time she had been asked out, throughout her college years good boys had made a bee string for her, and each of them were nipped in the bud. They had talked about it in the past, and each time Priya had said the same line,"Mom if you can be on your own, why can't I?No guy can supplement my life in any way..I don't need a man." The discussions had always ended with those lines, but this time it seemed different. Maybe for the first time a man had actually found the crevice in the wall that Priya had built around her heart. Prying was not her nature so she went back to her strokes and Priya was left alone with the thoughts of the well dressed man with an easy smile and neat hair. A sudden urge to see that smile again coursed through her mind, she decided it was a good smile, she was shocked at her own thoughts and yet had seemingly no control over them, like winged creatures they took flight travelling from his face to his hair to his tie and she even remembered how neat his nails were. Lost in these thoughts, she left the studio and went up to her room. Had there been a mirror, Priya would be surprised to see herself blushing.

to be continued...