Past is never dead

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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Tia was soon a teenager and Tara in her early forties. Before she had known, the midlife had slowly crept up on her. She had quite a few grays in her hair and fine lines around her eyes. She wore reading glasses as she had trouble reading without them. Thankfully, she had not put on weight and had the same slender frame. Nikhil on the other hand had piled on a few kilos, especially on his midriff. His once black hair had completely turned grey, but he refused to colour them.

“With age, you should leave vanity behind, Tara and accept the way you are!” He said. He was also turning more philosophical with age.

Nikhil’s business was growing by leaps and bounds, and that kept Nikhil away from the city and his family more than he liked. Tara, meanwhile having finished her post-graduation, was teaching in a school. She even taught the kids of the building watchmen and domestic helps at her home for free. She didn’t earn much, but that was secondary. She loved kids and was surrounded by adorable little people throughout her day.

After Tia, they had wanted another child, but they couldn’t conceive. They even saw a doctor and tried to get pregnant using more advanced methods, but it didn’t work out. After a while, the disappointment and pain over not getting pregnant was too much for them to bear, and they quit trying.

With time, like all marriages do, Nikhil and Tara’s marriage too had fallen into a comfortable pattern. They liked each other’s company and took care of their responsibilities towards their home, child and each other. If Tara was a good mother, Nikhil was a hands on father too. Between both of them, they made sure Tia got good values and the confidence to do well in life. Tia was a happy and loving child. 

Though Tara was a busy woman and her life was full, there were times when she caught herself thinking of the past, and in particular of Himanshu. She wondered where he was nowadays? What had become of him? How many kids he had? And sometimes she even imagined what her life would have been if he had not left her the way he did.

All these unanswered questions made her stressful and restless. Maybe they were the signs of her impending menopause. Maybe they were the last of hormones playing a trick on her.

Why did Tara think of Himanshu?? Was it an omen of some kind? Find out in Que Sera Sera

It’s Love, Baby!

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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They decided to meet each other the next day.

The week went by like a tornado. Himanshu and Tara met every day. Though they didn’t admit to each other in words, they knew they were in love. At the end of the week, Himanshu left with the promise to come back the next month.

Himanshu visited Ahmedabad for one weekend every month. Those two days, they were inseparable. After a few months, Tara’s parents came to know about Himanshu. They met him and liked him. Tara’s father was very pleased. Not only Himanshu was doing very well in a multinational bank and had bright future prospects, but he belonged to the same caste. He couldn’t have found a better match for Tara.

He asked Tara after Himanshu left, “So, what are your plans?”

“What plans, papa?” She asked.

“Of marriage. Have you two decided to get married or not?”

“No, we haven’t thought of it, let alone discuss it.”

“So, what do you two talk morning and night?” He was exasperated. Today’s youth was very lazy with no sense of urgency.

“Do you think we talk about marriage?”

“Yes, and if you don’t, then it’s time you did. You are not getting any younger, and he seems to be a good boy. I think you should talk about wedding. We would also like to meet his parents.”

Tara talked to Himanshu about what her father told her.

“Your father is not wrong. Every daughter’s father thinks on similar lines. But, I need some time to think.”

Tara didn’t mind. She knew marriage was a big step, and most men were afraid of taking it. But, she was confident that Himanshu would come back to her with a positive response. She knew him well by now.

After a few days, Himanshu called her up in the middle of the day. Usually, they never called each other during working hours. Tara knew it was something important for him to have broken the unspoken rule.

“Tara,” he spoke as soon as she answered the call. “You know what. This is so exciting. I am being sent to London for an assignment.”

“Wow, that’s great news. When are you leaving?”

“In a months’ time.”

“That’s pretty soon. When will you come back?”

“It’s a big project. So, I would be needed for 6 months. That’s what they are saying. No one’s sure yet.”

“6 months is a long time. I will miss you badly.”

“So will I, baby. So will I”. Himanshu assured her.

When Tara broke the news to her parents, her father was visibly upset.

“I think we should talk to his parents. We can fix your engagement before he leaves for London, and once he comes back, you two can get married.”

Tara talked to Himanshu, who was not in favour of the whole arrangement.

“Tara, I will be very busy the next few weeks. It’s an important assignment, and there is no scoop for a goof up. I won’t be even coming to Ahmedabad before I leave. Tell your father we would surely get married once I come back.”

Tara’s father was not happy about this, but he realized there was nothing he could do. He had a bad feeling about it. But he kept the thought to himself. Himanshu left India after a month.

Do you think Himanshu’s leaving India without getting married to Tara was a bad omen? Find out in Jinxed.

He Said, She Said

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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To do. To do not. To meet him. To meet him not.

Tara was in a constant fight with herself for the last two days.

She didn’t know him. Why did he want to meet her? Was he a decent man? She heard so many stories of girls being pestered by antisocial elements nowadays.

She decided to message Kush’s mother.

“Hello, this is Tara miss. Heard about the incident. Hope Kush’s grandparents are doing well. Met your brother at the Open House.”

After a couple of hours, she got the message.

“They are doing better now, thank you. I had asked Himanshu to get Kush’s reports. Kush is missing you and can’t wait for the new term to begin.” The message ended with a happy emoticon.

Well, at least Himanshu’s credibility was established. Tara thought no further and messaged him in a moment of impulse.

“Let’s meet this Saturday at 11 am, Beverage Point!”

Once the message was sent, doubts started creeping in. It was too late now.

“Good.” He replied immediately.

Saturday arrived, and with it a flight of butterflies in her stomach. She was unsure of her decision. She thought, on many occasions, to cancel the date, but this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to her, she didn’t want to let it go without trying. She was an independent girl; if things got ugly, which she doubted they would in a public place, she could handle them.

She took ages to get ready. She couldn’t decide on an ideal dress to wear. Some made her look needy, some a Victorian prude and some very cold and distant. It took her sometime to pick an outfit that made her look pretty, slim, fashionable but at the same time not too eager.

In a sunshine yellow dress, she arrived at the café only to find Himanshu waiting for her. He got up and took her one hand in a firm handshake. Motioning her to sit down, he took a seat opposite her.

She was very nervous.

“I had a very strong feeling that you would fall sick at the last moment.” He joked. She laughed, appreciating his witty attempt to break the ice.

“I was almost tempted to do that.” She replied. He smiled.

“Thank you for not giving in.” The man was charming. She had to give him credit for that.

“So, what will you take. Masala tea, ginger tea, iced tea…??”

“Lemon iced tea.”

“One lemon iced tea and one double expresso,” he said to the passing waiter.

“You must be thinking if I was a creep to have invited you without knowing you.”

“Well, I must admit the thought did enter my mind.” I told him truthfully.

“I have never done this before, acted so rashly. But, I had heard so much about you both from Kush and my sister, that I had to meet this paragon of virtue. The lady luck was on my side when I had to take my sister’s place the school meeting, and I got to meet you.”

“I was charmed, you see. I saw the way you talked to the parents before me. You were so cool, calm and collected.”

She lowered her eyes in embarrassment. She was not good at handling compliments.

“And, you are so beautiful!” He said softly. Tara looked up immediately. No one in her life had ever called her that before. Charming, yes, smart and intelligent, yes…but beautiful, never.

She had a doubt. “Are you flirting with me?”

“No, not at all!” He sounded offended.

“You are beautiful, beauty is in the eyes, you know!” His words were sincere. And, so, for the first time in her life, Tara actually felt beautiful. Her dark skin was beautiful.

They talked about each other. Himanshu was a Chartered Accountant, working at a prestigious multinational bank in Mumbai. He had some leaves due and so he was visiting his parents. He had one more week before he left for Mumbai.

Tara had thought she would make some polite excuse after an hour and leave. But, one hour got over, and she didn’t realize. When she next checked her watch, it was just over 2 pm. Himanshu was an interesting person, and they were enjoying knowing each other.

The sun was hanging low on the horizon, turning the sky into a beautiful landscape of orange, red, blue and purple, when they finally stepped out of the café. They decided to meet each other the next day.

Is it the beginning of a love story?? Do you think Tara and Himanshu are made for each other? Read about them further in tomorrow’s post. I won’t give you the chapter name as it is a giveaway. 🙂

Gone Girl (Chapter 7)

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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A couple of days after the Open House, she received a message on her phone.

“Hello Tara miss!” It was from an unknown number. She didn’t have the number stored in her contact list.

Must be one of the parents. She didn’t have all the parents’ numbers saved in her phone.

“Hello! Whose parent are you please?” She messaged.

“This is Himanshu. I hope you remember me from the Open House.” It asked.

How she could forget him? He was tall, nearly half a foot taller than her, with a muscular physique. He had a head full of thick black hair, dark brown eyes which looked all the more distinguished because of the rimless glasses he wore. He had a beautiful set of teeth that shone when he smiled, and his nails were trimmed and filed. Tara was obsessed with teeth and nails; she subconsciously observed people’s teeth and checked their nails. He was a man you couldn’t forget in a hurry. He was the Fitzwilliam Darcy of her dreams.

But why was he messaging her?

“Yes, I do remember you, Mr. Himanshu Mittal!” (she remembered his signature).

“Is it possible to meet you today?” He asked.

“Is it something regarding Kush?” She was concerned now.

“You could say so.”

“Alright. You can meet me after the class around 12 noon.” Tara was looking after the summer camp classes that had started from previous Monday.

“See you at 12.” Was his last message.

In the classroom and with the kids around, she forgot about Himanshu and Kush. At noon, kids left leaving behind a mountain of chart papers, scissors, glue, crayons. She was sitting on the floor, in the process of putting them in some sort of order when there was a knock at the door. She looked up to find Himanshu standing at the door. Her heart skipped a beat. He looked more handsome and irresistible, if that was possible.

Get a hold on yourself, you silly girl! She scolded herself.

“Please come in and take a seat. I won’t be a minute,” she offered. She cleared away all the stationary, which also gave her sometime to compose herself, before sitting on the chair opposite Himanshu.

“Hope Kush’s grandparents are doing well?” She asked.

“Yes, they are better now. Thank you.” He replied. His words came out in a soft drawl.

“Please tell me, how can I help you?” She couldn’t understand for the life of her why he wanted to see her.

“By coming out with me.” He said in a very matter of fact tone.

She was shocked. Did she hear him right?

“Excuse me?” She asked, confusion evident in her eyes.

“Tara I want to see you outside the school. I like you and want to know you.”

She was taken aback. What was he asking her to do? Was he crazy?

“No, I am not crazy. And no, you won’t be violating any of school rule in coming out with me. I am not your student’s parent.” The thought hadn’t even enter her mind. But Himanshu had thought of everything.

She was afraid. Her eyes gave her in.

“Don’t be scared. We can meet for a coffee in a crowded coffee place.”

When she still didn’t reply, “You don’t have to answer me now. Take your time.”

He got up from the chair and began to leave. “Don’t take a lot of time though.” He joked.

She smiled in spite of herself.

Will Tara meet him? Read the next post He Said She Said on Monday, 9th April.

Have a great weekend! Ciao!

Face in the crowd

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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Image: pexels

With all thoughts of marriage and prince charming stowed away in the far recesses of her mind, Tara thought of changing the course of her life.

She was not prepared to be a homemaker anymore. She wanted to study further. Her father was not too pleased with her decision, but he realized that his eldest child had more or less made up her mind. He wanted to see her happy. After all, that’s what all parents wanted at the bottom of their heart.

Tara became a kinder garten teacher. If she couldn’t have a child herself, being a teacher was the best possible way she could be with kids. She loved children, and her job. In fact, it didn’t feel as if she was working. The cute little faces, their drama, innocent talks and tantrums fascinated her. While her younger sister returned home from work each evening exhausted, stressed out and miserable, she was still full of spirits and happiness.

Every morning, as soon as they saw her, the kids surrounded her and enthusiastically hugged her. On Teacher’s Day or Valentine’s Day, they would bring her handmade cards (obviously their parents prepared them) and pretty flowers. She came to know from the school grapevine that she was the favourite teacher of all kids. At the time of admission, parents specifically asked if their offspring could have Tara miss as the class teacher.

The year had ended and it was time for the Open House. Parents came to talk to teachers about their child’s performance. Tara was sitting on her chair, a big rectangle table in front of her where she had neatly arranged all the report cards, certificates of merit and artwork made by kids. She was handing them out to the parents. As she was talking to a pair of parents, she saw a tall man entering the classroom and taking a vacant chair. She could not recognize him. She knew all her kids’ parents. And this man, she had never seen before. Maybe he had entered the wrong classroom.

As soon as the couple left, the tall man stood up and approached her table.

She said, “Hello! I am sorry but I don’t recognize you. What’s your child’s name?”

“I am here for Kush.” He replied. “I am not his father, but his uncle.”

“Oh, that explains it. I was wondering why I could not recognize you.” Tara smiled.

“You know all the parents?” The man was surprised.

“Yes!” Tara replied with no trace of pride.

“Kush’s grandparents have met with an accident, his parents had to travel to Chandigarh yesterday evening. So, I offered to come for the Open House. I hope that is OK?” The man offered an explanation.

“Yes. It should be. You are?”

“I am his maternal uncle. My name is Himanshu.”

Tara nodded her head. After that, she talked about the progress Kush had made in the class. Himanshu heard it all with no specific comments or contribution. It was evident he was not familiar with children’s school activities. He collected all reports, certificates and art sheets, thanked Tara and left the room.

Tara was about to call the next set of parents, when he appeared again in her line of sight.

“Excuse me, but would you mind giving me your phone number? I am sure I must have missed something that Kush’s mother might want to know. Is it OK if she calls you?” He asked politely.

“Yes, absolutely. She might have my number, but I will write it down in case she has misplaced it.” She gave him her number. He thanked her and left the room.

Was that the last she had heard or seen of him? Find out tomorrow in Gone Girl.


Enough (Chapter 5)

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

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Everybody Tara knew had ambitions; one friend wanted to work for a multinational bank, while another wanted to teach. And one friend just wanted to marry an NRI and live in the US or UK. Even Tara had an ambition. She wanted to be a mother. She knew she could be a wonderful mother.

Her friends asked her, “But what’s so special about being a mother!”

She told them, “Whatever we are today, we owe it to our mother. She works hard, she protects us and sacrifices her ambitions and desires so that she can see us grow. She gives children values. She is the force behind the society. I want to be one such mother.”

Her friends didn’t understand her, but she didn’t care much. She was focused – she wanted to be a mother, and for that she had to find a suitable man first.

Her father was more than happy to oblige. He was from a family where girls married early. Her brothers’ daughters were long married. He was already at the receiving end of his family’s taunts as he had yet not started looking for a prospective groom for Tara.

Tara met the first suitor. She was very excited. Wearing a pretty strawberry pink sari, she welcomed the suitor and his family. She served everyone tea and snacks. And then the man and Tara were left alone in the room to talk. She waited for some time for the person to initiate a conversation. But he didn’t. He kept his head down and refused to even look at her. Tired of waiting, she took the matters in her hand.

“Do you like to read books?” It was a harmless question and if he replied in positive, she knew they would have much to talk to.

“Books??” He smirked. “I don’t even get time to read the newspaper. It’s only work, work and more work for me.”

Tara’s smile froze. She had nothing against workaholics, they were nice people, but they were not for her. She wanted a husband who was more than a guest in his house, who went for grocery shopping with her and who helped her raise the kids.

She refused the proposal.

A few days later another proposal came for her. This boy was completely opposite to the first one. He talked without taking a pause. Tara couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. She wanted a husband, not a chatterbox. It didn’t look nice when men talked so much.

Disappointed with the kind of men she was meeting, she told her parents, “I don’t want to marry anymore.” They were shocked but thought she would come around in sometime.

Would Tara ever come around?? Come tomorrow to read Face in the crowd


Dangerous age

This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first chapter –

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Tara was soon a teenager. Her body had blossomed and she looked like a little lady. And, like most teenagers, she too had acne problem.

Most of her time was consumed in looking into the mirror and groaning aloud when she found a new pimple. But, stubborn acne was not her only problem. Like most teenagers, Tara was undergoing a hormonal change. The boys who till last year were only boys, classmates or friends suddenly appeared different. She didn’t know what was happening to her. On talking with her girlfriends, she realized she was not alone and that they were undergoing the same symptoms. Girls loved talking about boys, dreaming about their prince charmings and playing the Ouija board what the future lay in store for them.

But while many of Tara’s friends had secret affairs with the boys, Tara remained unattached. Until she entered college. Tara soon fell for a boy, two years her senior. While entering and leaving the college and during breaks, her eyes searched for him. But, she never mustered up confidence to go talk to him. It was a case of silent affection, from her side. On the other side, the fellow didn’t even know Tara existed, let alone know that she was crazy for him.

Soon the year was up, and the boy graduated from college. Tara never saw him again. And within a few weeks, she forgot all about him.

A year or so after, Tara found another person. She met him through a mutual friend, and she liked him instantly. He was three years her senior, confident and looked wise, unlike the college lads who she found too much into themselves and immature. He was tall, dark and handsome; a scarce community she was given to believe by the romantic-erotic novels that she had read growing up.

But, before she could profess her feelings to him, she found out that there was someone else in the picture too. He was in love with another girl, who didn’t care about him, but had him wrapped by her little finger nonetheless. Tara waited a better part of a year for him to understand that the girl was just using her. But, boys could be so obtuse sometimes, even when things were glaring right in their eye. Tara sound realized the hopelessness of the situation, and thought it was wiser to unattach her feelings.

Will the right man come along? Find out in the next chapter – Enough!!

Cacophony in the neighborhood (chapter 3)

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This chapter is the part of my story – A girl was born. Do read the previous two chapters to understand the premise –

Tara’s father developed business interests in Gujarat, so they moved to Ahmedabad when Tara was a little girl. Her grandparents chose to stay back. Her grandmother was very attached to her house. She said, “she came to this house as a bride, and she would leave it upon her death.”

Tara didn’t remember if it was tough for her to adjust to a new life. She was too small. The neighborhood was quiet, clean and spacious, unlike the narrow, filthy gullies of old Delhi. But, she missed her old house. She missed the sweet smell of jaggary and sesame seeds from the gajjak shop, the pigeons on the terrace and the chatwala. Not for long though. Kids have short memories.

She loved the new house with a huge garden and big trees that she climbed with her new friends. When she was not hiding in the closet, Tara was busy being the leader of the gang and indulging in innocent mischief. Every day she came up with a new play idea. One day she would be making a small temple out of bricks that she and her friends found at the nearby construction site and they would light incense sticks borrowed from home, do puja religiously and offer prasaad. The next day, she would be taking the entire gang of kids to the general stores and buy all of them candies.

“Khate mein likh dena.” She would ask the store owner. At the end of the month, her father was shocked to know that his daughter’s monthly chocolate consumption was in three figures (quite a lot for that time). Her rights to order chocolate at the store were henceforth revoked.

She loved imli and often climbed the tamarind tree to get the fruit. There was also a neem tree in the backyard, which she climbed to break its branches and offered them to the old beggar woman who stood outside their house twice a week. Tara had seen the night watchman collecting fallen sticks and keeping himself warm at night by lighting them up. It was winter and she was sure the beggar woman didn’t have a house or blanket to keep herself warm in the cold winter nights of Ahmedabad.

Staying in Ahmedabad had its perks. Every school holidays, they visited Delhi to meet their grandparents and cousins. As Tara became older, she visited Delhi even without her parents. She loved her cousin sisters. They were elder, wiser and wittier. Tara was in complete awe of them.

One day, Tara was taking a bath with her cousins. As she was putting soap on her body, she observed that both her cousins’ complexion was similar to hers. They were dark. This made Tara think. Her aunt loved Tara like her own daughter, her two daughters looked more like Tara than her own mother’s other children did.

When she was born to her aunt who already had two daughters, her grandmother was very upset. She decided to give Tara to her other daughter in law, who didn’t have any kids of her own yet.

A kid’s mind could be wonderfully fertile. Her imagination ran away with her and she was convinced that her parents were not her real parents. She was the daughter of her aunt and sister of her cousins. If only she had confirmed with her parents, she could have saved much of the heart break.

But Tara was different

This chapter is a part of the novella – A girl was born under the theme Yesterday Today Tomorrow. Here’s the first chapter –

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While she loved the evenings, she hated the mornings. In the morning, her granny massaged her with chick pea flour and cream. She rubbed her hard to remove the excessive hair on her body, particularly moustache and chin. And, also to make her complexion “a little whiter”. Her parents were fair complexioned and very good looking. And it bothered her grandmother that Tara was not.

“Don’t know after whom she has taken?” She complained and massaged her harder that made Tara cry.

Her poor mother pleaded with her grandmother to stop with her massage, and the old lady finally gave in to her mother’s tears. Now, every time Tara visited a beauty parlour, she cursed her mother.

Three years later, her sister was born. Very fair, very beautiful. And then two years later, her brother was born. Rose pink complexion.

She never realized that she was different until that one day when she was 7 years old, she overheard one of her mother’s friends saying, “She is quite dark for your family. Though her features are nice, you might have trouble marrying her off.” She didn’t wait for her mother’s reply. Immediately, she ran to her cupboard that had mirrors on the inside of both its doors.

She looked in the mirror. She had never really paid attention to the mirror before. She looked at her face closely. It looked just the same the same. But, something arrested her eye.

She was dark. Yes. But she never gave it any thought until now. How did it make her different from her family?

That night at dinner, she looked closely at her brother and sister. Her sister looked quite like her. Except her skin colour. She was fair. Many shades fairer than her. She looked at her brother then. Though he was not as fair as the other sister, he was still fairer than her. Then her eyes fell on her mother’s skin. She was so fair, and so was her father. She was the odd one out. The dark one.

Though she didn’t want to get married at 7, and didn’t know what marriage was, she knew one thing, that she was lacking something that was important to so many people in this world around her.

That night, she sat in the cupboard and quietly closed the doors. And in the small, dark and confined space, she sobbed. What she was crying for, she did not know. But, she was hurt. For the very first time she realized she was different from her family.

After her tears were spent, she realized it was stuffy in the cupboard. She opened up the doors a little bit, just a tiny bit to let the air come in. She checked her face in the door mirrors, her eyes were red and swollen.

The cupboard became her favourite hiding spot for many years to come, whenever she wanted to cry or spend some time alone. Till the day she could fit in no longer. Till the day, she realized she could cry in the bathroom as well. It was bigger, spacious and airy. And, she could easily drown the sound of her sobs in there as long as she kept the tap on.

So, in total filmy style she cried “Why me? Why have you made me so different? Why couldn’t I be fair like my family?”

Things changed for the better in movies. But, for her, nothing changed. She was still the same dark complexioned the next day and the day after then.

But, one thing changed. Her attitude towards her family. She had a very strong suspicion that she had been swapped at the hospital with another baby.

Just one more day for the 3rd chapter in the series…