Freedom – A Short Story Set in the Pandemic

Kamaraj Nagar – A locality in Avadi – April 14, 2020

Murugan looked at his wife and two children. It was the Tamil New Year. The corona lockdown had forced him to shut his small barber shop. There had been no income for about a month now. From all his savings, he was down to the last Rs 500 he had. He cursed himself for having hastily installed the air conditioner in his saloon based on the feedback of his customers. The AC had taken out Rs 30,000 and within a month of it being installed the government had enforced its god-forsaken lockdown. Valli his wife had managed to make a simple yet delicious meal. There was payasam and vadai with rice, sambar, and vegetable curry. The two children – twins – Haripriya and Harpit were ten years old. Excellent at studies and extra-curricular activities, their small flat in the housing board colony was adorned with certificates and trophies that the twins had won at school. The situation was problematic for most occupants of the run-down flats in the colony. He could not borrow money from anyone either. The people lending money during this crisis would extract their Shylockian pound of flesh from him. He wondered how he would overcome this crisis.

Gumudipoondi a town adjoining the Andhra border – May 1, 2020

Biswajit was walking along with a group of 15 other construction workers. They were tired of the false promises being made. They had not received wages nor had work resumed. Their contractor had tried his best to support them, but he too was caught in his problems and facing a monetary crisis. Originally from Midnapore in West Bengal, Biswajit had come to Chennai, three years ago. He loved this city and its long beach. He had worked in a small restaurant as a cleaner and then found a better-paying job as a construction-worker.  This city gave him dignity instead of life as a low-caste indentured labourer in his native village. The Communists had destroyed the fabric of his beloved state. Despite changes under Mamata didi’s Trinamool – a life of comfort was still a distant dream. The group had started walking from their tenements near Royapuram two days ago. They did not know how they were going to reach their destination or when they would reach it either. They trudged along because they knew their dream had ended here. They tried to use the side-roads instead of the main highway to avoid the police. En-route some volunteers from NGOs and good-natured folks had provided them with water and food-packets. How long would this journey run? Would they make it in one piece to their native lands?

Kodambakkam – a posh apartment complex – May 10, 2020

Rhea was having a heated exchange with her husband Dev. “What do you mean – kitchen is only for women? You better come here and help me wash the dishes.” Dev chose to ignore her and this only infuriated Rhea further. Something snapped that moment in Rhea’s mind. Five years of a marriage that was filled with arguments and disagreements. They had been neighbours since their childhood and their parents had conducted the marriage wishing the best for both of them. Somehow the joviality of friendship did not translate into a successful marriage and it had been a constant struggle for both of them after the initial honeymoon period ended. As Dev continued to flip the channels on the television, Rhea walked in to the living room and stood between Dev and the TV set and said – “OK, Dev, we need to talk, now!”

Kamaraj Nagar – May 15, 2020

The police-officers had cordoned the flat where Murugan lived with his family. All four members of the family had died. Murugan hung from the ceiling fan. His wife and children lay in the bed with their mouths frothing with a foul-smelling liquid. Murugan had poisoned them and then hung himself. His letter that was kept on the alcove with the photos of several gods was clear. He no longer had any money. He could not open his barber shop, he could not pay rent, and the money that he had borrowed with great difficulty was also over. Neither could he help himself or his family-members. This was the only way out.

Midnapore – May 22, 2020

The Amphan cyclone hit with a ferocious impact destroying everything in its way. Poor Biswajit who had reached home after an NGO had helped arrange transport for them in Andhra Pradesh discovered the wrath of nature a few days after reaching his village. The winds and the rains had lashed and blown away the tin and asbestos sheets that worked as roofs. He was thankful that he was alive. His aged mother and widowed sister were safe. They salvaged some of their belongings and walked to the local government school, where a relief camp had been set up. A promise of a hot meal of khichuri and some vegetables prompted them to walk to the school where some more villagers had assembled. They were down, but they believed they could rebuild their lives.

Kodambakkam – May 23, 2020

“Amma, enough is enough. I have thought through this clearly. I am not going to endure any of Dev’s nonsense. Five years of my life I have given to him, and my role is that of a dignified maidservant. That’s all, and a trophy-wife for parties.  I am seeking a divorce from him. I need to live my own life.”  Rhea’s mother looked at her and nodded her head. “Appa and I are sorry for having foisted this marriage upon you. Let’s plan a new beginning for you.” Mother and daughter hugged each other as tears flowed down their eyes.

An Ode to a Brother

What do I term this bond?
I have known you for how long?
Four or perhaps five years.
How these years have flown,
The highs the lows,
The dreams the visions,
The books read, movies seen,
Emotional outbursts,
The ever-changing equations,

The pain of seeing,
Those who meant everything,
Turning us into idiots,
Of the highest order,
As everyone found a way,
To go away,
But still we chose to stay,
With that calm and stoic smile.
Of business-ventures,
Of publishing dreams,
Of short-movies and scripts,
Of walks on the beach,
Of photography trips,

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Boarding the crowded bus to CMBT,
That strange pilgrimage of sorts,
That we undertook in Tiruvanamalai,
The ramifications of all that ensued,
Of everything turning topsy-turvy,
Of hope, of faith, of self-confidence,
Of braving floods, storms and winds,
Of short stories that get better and better,
Of a novel, a sublime work of art,
That I think you will never release.

But I really hope,
You would publish it,
Because it is a special book,
I know how much it meant to you,
Of what you wanted to salvage,
Of how much hurt remains,
But still you let go,
Without a complaint,
Without bitterness – a trait,
That I hope someday I will imbibe.

Of the trip to Thirukadaiyyur,
A chance that you gave me,
For I will never,
Ever get that chance,
In my lost paternity,
Of the fantastic rava laaddu,
Of the tender coconut we sipped,
Of the pain that remains in your eyes,
For whatever you say, whatever you do,
I can still see through the eyes!

That evening when I rushed,
To see you all bloody and injured,
Thanking the Good Samaritan,
Whose prompt action saved you,
Of posing for a selfie,
All bloodied an plastered,
In the Government Hospital,
Memories of joy in pain,
Of the relief of seeing you fine.
Of understanding the gaps,
In your confused memory,

Of sharing pictures,
To fill those gaps,
Of music, cinema,
Good food and Jo Nesbo,
Of waiting for that notification,
To read your latest post.
There’s a lot that remains,
I really hope,
This year turns special,
As you fight your own battles,
Just remember, I am just a message away!

I really hope,
Your next novel,
Releases soon,
Is a blockbuster,
That shuts all those wagging tongues,
That mocked you,
With such hatred and ease.
And that short film that forever is in our minds,
Let us shoot that too!

Here’s to many more years, of brotherhood, good health and joy!3756d-100_1393

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BP – An Ode to a Brother!

Silhouette Photo Courtesy – Vinod Velayudhan

The Last Note

The blog stops its journey here, today! The masks that I don, cannot continue to go on like this. At some point, one finds something that turns into one’s purpose. The clock goes on ticking. Made some friends, made a lot of foes, this journey no longer holds meaning or value. All that’s left here are broken pieces of scribbling of one soul who tried his best to fit in. A charade that can no longer go on!

I wish you well. I shall still follow what you write and read your words when time permits. Farewell – This little place will remain here a testimony of one more soul who wanted to write, bring some difference into the world, but only made enemies!

Thanks for all the memories, bitter and sweet. Bye!


G for “Ghosts of the Past”

Today by a brilliant act of journalism in the New Indian Express.

Listen to the embedded video clip when the heroic journalist names the group of blogger friends in Chennai.

The kind of nonsense that two of my friends and I have to undergo all through the day on WhatsApp and Facebook is ridiculous. The representative Anup says “I bulk emailed the entire group but only few replies!” The gall of people who seldom are active in the group and sudenly questioning ethics and “integrity of bloggers” is a moment of awakening. When you are an admin in a group, you are answerable to all members. We try to be as fair as possible. No one considers the hours that we put into meet brands, authors, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, the hours of travel, the emails, the calls, the driving. And we are accused in unsubtle terms that we are turning into paid bloggers who only write favourable stuff.

I am sick and tired of this nonsense and so are the other two admins! We have learnt a wonderful lesson today. There are great stylists who wear wonderful smiles, pry out information and then say it was for some other event. Yes, we are babies drinking Cerelac – thank you!

There are people in the community who silently observe everything and never comment! God knows, what pleasure they derive. When I posted the original email screenshot, I was clear, use your common sense, we have not leaked any email IDs, yet we are accused of things we did not do!

The ghosts of the past – I have a dark past, today when a goon called up and spoke to me in the filthiest of words, I disconnected. This happened thrice again; the fifth call, I used a name from the past! The voice on the other side froze; it said “Bhai… Aslam paesaraen gnyabagam irukka?” I replied – “Nalla gnyabagam irukku thambi!” Pleasantries were exchanged and then there were no further calls.

My past caught up with me today, yet again! How long till another fight? How long will I run???

Four Corners of the Circle – Book Review

It all started one evening when I noticed a post by a blogger friend Aravind Kumar about a book and if people would be interested in reviewing the book. The title of the book was – ‘Four Corners of the Circle’. In a short span of about 30 minutes I was connected with the author Mr. Mohit Jain on Facebook and we were chatting.

The book arrived within a few days and battling busy work-schedules and fatigue, which did not let me read the book on the train; I finally completed the book. Before I go into the review of the book; a short introduction of the author follows:

Mr. Mohit Jain is an eminent personality who has been influencing students at various levels through his teachings, mentoring, training and consultation for more than 16 years. He has a rich experience in the field of Quantitative Aptitude, Economics, Finance and Marketing Research. He is a visiting faculty member of various management institutes in Kolkata, Guwahati, Pune, Nasik, and Bangalore.

Read more about Mohit –

From the blurb on the rear-cover of the book:

Ever heard about the four corners of the circle? Since childhood, t has been taught in schools that the circle has no concern. Life is a never ending marathon. It keeps on revolving in circles and everyone is in search of a final destination, a corner that they never reach. This book is a small initiative to throw light on different aspects of the education system and how could we join hands to make it more productive. It guides the aspiring students to follow a right approach, take correct decisions, and overcome distractions in their career. It advocated that the educational institutions should focus on enlightening the lives of the students by providing quality education, quality learning ambiance, practical grounds to implement class room theories, and by helping students convert their black cat into a white one. The book is neither biased toward students nor educational institutes; the sole purpose is to provide their individual perspectives and reach to a common conclusion. The book contains five theories, which Mr. Mohit Jain has discovered in his sixteen years of teaching experience and which would help the youngsters reach closer and closer to their goals.


The book is a fascinating piece of writing; coming from a teacher and mentor who has guided a number of students over the years to find their true-calling and achieve their dreams. The book is not a novel, wherein I can provide plot-points and create suspense and force you to pick up the book to help you unravel a mystery.

This book is a small gem that takes incidents from the author’s life and traces his journey as a son, student, friend, teacher and mentor. In today’s result-oriented world; where everyone aspires to become an MBA; the book examines if an MBA is really worth it; does the MBA ensure guaranteed employment and success and other very pertinent questions.

I would recommend every student who plans to write the CAT or similar preparatory test; or aspires to go abroad for higher studies to please buy this book and spend time reading the book. The book is simple, precise, crisp and direct in the presentation of the core-idea. There are interesting diagrams that add value to the book.

The Nine Point Theory put forward and copyrighted by the author distills the essence of learning and the whole purpose of studying and perhaps living in a clear manner. I am sure that many people who read this book will look back in regret and wish that they had heard about this theory earlier.

The author lists out the impact that his father had on him and thanks him for inspiring him to do what he is doing. He also credits his teachers, friends, family and students who have all added value to his life.

I offer 4.5 stars out of 5 for this solid gem of a book and would recommend it to everyone be it student or management professional or IT professional or teacher; do read this book and spread the message that – ‘No dream is impossible.’

Buy the book here:

Do read the book it won’t disappoint you!

Ice Cream Party at Cream & Fudge

Post the Pizza party; I was waiting anxiously for an ice cream party and lo and behold the email from Deepa at Media Moments brought a smile on to my face. The date and venue were confirmed, some anxious moments ensued as enough bloggers did not respond; but all went well and on D-Day we had enough number of participants.

Once again the flag of The Chennai Bloggers Club flew high as the usual suspects Bragadeesh, Gopal, Karthik, Srilakshmi, Aarti, usha and Sandeep were there in addition to other leading food bloggers from Chennai.

We got to make our own variants of ice creams; some people tossed it into a cup others went for a waffle-based cone and it was fun experimenting like scientists devising medicines as we made delicious ice creams.

The branch located in T.Nagar on Venkatnarayana Road near the TTD Temple is a beautiful and cheery little place. The staff are courteous and friendly, the washroom is clean and there is a sense of calm and happiness as one walks into the store.

I would like to recommend a young kid named John who did some amazing tricks with a scoop of ice cream. I would like to thank Media Moments and Cream & Fudge for a delightful Saturday evening that was well-spent.

No pictures this time around as the pics turned out very grainy and fuzzy – I guess will have to get a DSLR if I am to attend more such food-events!!!!

So what are you waiting for? Beat the heat by digging into some of the sinfully delicious ice creams and sundaes offered by Cream & Fudge!