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Life, love and living
 Sandeep Dhaiya  
 13 March 2018  

Many, many years ago, a sage was meditating on a Himalayan peak. Majestic dales and solitary vales sprawled around were all aglow with the divine streak.Though the birds chirped songs, and rain poured down in throngs, he was unmovable, lost in a deep trance.In winters, icy cold storms blew and the snow around and over him was all aglow with its chilling primitiveness. His soul but was safe somewhere in the cosy warmth of transcendental realisation.In autumn, wind-fallen leaves sailed down with slumberous tumble, and ripe fruits fell proudly, adventurously for a juicy, pleasant crumble. He still was somewhere else when the nature opened these marvellous jewels from her treasure trove.In spring, wild flowers fully unfurled their fragrance and smile, and honey-bees engaged in dawn to dusk toil. He but was unmoved and transported into a state where the ecstasies of natural bounties don’t mean anything anymore.Summer’s warm days sprayed desultory, eerie uneasiness around, and cool nights proudly embraced this son with his soul heaven-bound. Still it didn’t matter. He was undisturbed and was silently moving on his meditative path.Once it was a full moon autumn night. A fairy was flying amid milky delight. A perfect calmness pervaded the solitary vales. Everything was asleep, bathed in the softest fluffy shades of white. The fairy flew low over the peaks glowing under the moonlight. The seer was lost in his trance in front of his cave, the beauty of nature sprawled around meaningless to him.She saw him and hovered around the sanctimonious air of his sagehood. A small, harmless mischief rustled in her young, innocent heart. She circled in the air above him. Her laughter touched the milky sea around and created soft ripples. Her unbelievably soft dress rustled in the gentle breeze born of her circles. It but did not have any effect on him. He was engrossed too deep in the cosmic balance beyond the sensory contradictions and dualities. The more she looked, the more was the urge in her to bring him back to the beauty of this world, to fetch him from the deep ocean where his soul had dived.His exquisitely masculine physique and persona created tempted sparks on her magic stick. She tried all juicily leering feminine tricks. But her desire-lorn swirls in the air failed to move him even a bit. Helplessly she descended onto the earth. There were almost tears of helplessness in her beautiful eyes. She sat in front of him with those rose-red lips pursed in a heart-breaking frown.Her marvellous eyes were lost in his handsome, bearded, well sculpted face. It was mesmerizing. There was not a single worldly trace on his face. She herself was caught in a trance and lost the sense of time and the laws of the fairyland. The night sped away as if in a jiffy.The day rose. The sun arrived with full earthly delight. There was terror in her eyes. The hope to return to her realm died. She had broken the law of her land by not returning on the same night after the brief terrestrial sojourn. The realisation crashed against her soft self like a thunderbolt. Her utmost sensuous bare shoulders heaved under the tremors of this unpardonable fault. A cry involuntarily tore through her slender throat. And then it was a still bigger violation.His serenely flowing meditative phrase met this sinful, full-stopping dot. His communion with the divinity was broken. His long-closed eyes opened. The world of his penance lay scattered. His fiercely burning eyes stared at the flower in sobs and sighs. Her large, flooded eyes pleaded for mercy. But the fire in his unforgiving eyes was unrelenting and cursing.The fabric of his serenity was torn. The sage thundered, “You proud, vain woman of egoistic beauty, become an ugly bush of thorns!”Mowed down by the spell of his cursing energy, an ugly bush stood in place of that angelic beauty. All shaken and ravaged, he left the place. A thorny branch, meanwhile, got entangled in his loin cloth, as if for meek, pleading forgiveness and brace. He but scornfully jerked it apart and headed to some other place for a new start.Time then took to its heels on swift horses. The seasons changed. The spring’s colourful patterns were rearranged. The summer’s warm kisses melted the snows. The autumn’s harvest uncomplainingly fell to the air’s chiding blows. The winter’s snowy blanket covered the peaks. And rains lashed down in stormy freaks.This pleasant wavering of nature, however, couldn’t shake the sage from the meditative maze high there in the hills. Faraway down the hills, the accursed bush was shrouded in thorny haze. It struggled to sprout fruits and flowers. Even cursing has a testing time against soft, innocent glow of purity. How can something having a fairy core remain ugly and thorny for too long? Her pure soul entombed in that thorny shrine prayed for penance. And see, a flower of her fruits sprouts forth!A flower blossomed among the thorns. So beautiful! It lit up with life among the thorns and deadly pale dark brown branches. It appeared juxtaposed by a miracle, like it had dropped from the heaven and got stuck there. It was the day when the enlightened sage arrived from the north. Contented with his cosmic realisation, he came down the beautiful dale. As he passed the bush, his purified soul sensed the thorny shrub’s plaintive wail. His feet disobeyed him and he couldn’t move. The lone flower among the thorns fell at his feet in holy-most obeisance and greet. He picked it up and was lost in its fragrance.The thorn was ugly. The flower so beautiful and fragrant! What contradiction! Flowery heaven and thorny hell together! The latter born of his cursing condemnation; the flower born of the beauty behind the thorny bars. It was a jolting earthly realisation. Hadn’t he broken the beautifully set laws?Torrents of repentance cut through him. He bid penance at the altar for a long time. His repenting self set around a reformative shrine. His soul drenched in painful chime. He braced the thorns with the love and affection purest of the pure. It gave him bleeding fingers so many times. He caressed and cared for it like it was the beautiful most flowery shrub. He was practicing his penance now, of love, of surrender, of repentance. What else can be bigger than these?When his soul had been salvaged of the sin, nobody could bet against her for a win. There she blossomed in front of him. Beauty, charm and grace filled to the brim. Her smile was forgetting and forgiving. It was the beacon of her penance, of love, of beauty. Inside the stony walls of his heart, a new luminosity was now thriving. The sage embraced her. She, who had been separated from her loved ones, got the earthling she had fallen for. Happiness, bliss and calm opened a new door to the start of a fresh cycle of life, love and humanity.All but the sage had been extinguished by the cataclysm. The lone and forlorn survivor, he had been striking at the doors of heaven with his endless questions. Now there was no more pursuit. The endless had manifested itself in a small sip of love. Now they lived as a man and a woman. New hopes, aspirations and offspring began to thrive.Thus were sown the seeds of another spell and cycle of life, of creation. Their unchecked love in those flowery vales left countless exotic trails. Gurgling brooks gave company to her primordially sensuous laughter. His instinct’s procreating sprouts mingled with the mirthful waters of her receptiveness.

How Often Do We Say - Thank You!
 Ritu Gulabani  
 14 August 2018  
Art

How often do we say thank you and really mean it?To God, to people who serve us or to mother nature...How often do we thank God for the eyes we open in the morning? For there are many who couldn't see the brightness of the sun today.How often do we thank God for the air we breathe? For there are many, who are putting a lot of efforts to breathe and there are many again, who just took their last breath.How often do we thank God for the people around us? For there are many who are alone and fighting depression.How often do we thank God for the home we live in? For there are many who have no roof.How often do we thank God for our job? For there are many educated unemployed.How often do we thank our maids, our help and other service providers? For there are many who are in dire need of help but have to manage all by themselves.We are busy complaining and comparing and forgoing happiness ourselves.Today it has been scientifically proven that expressing gratitude makes you a happier person.With this follows my third story "Faith" which was published in Dreamz Anthology last year. Although a fiction, it has been inspired by real life events.FaithAfter collecting their bags, Rishabh and Daman went to hire a taxi while Tania and Disha waited near the exit with luggage by their side. When the boys were approaching their girls, Rishabh could effortlessly notice the contrasting personalities of the two females standing a few steps away.Rishabh and Tania had been together since their first year while Disha and Daman, already in a relationship, had met the duo during their internship. Their night duties and a zest for clubs and night life had brought them together.Tania was soft, plump and fair skinned with hazel eyes, almost like the furry overcoat in her hands. With her chubby cheeks, dimply smile and a compassionate heart she had been the spirit of the hospital. Disha, on the other hand had a vivid sex appeal. She too, wore jegging with nude peep toes; her white translucent shirt with a tiny golden heart shaped pendant hanging just above the cleavage made her look sensual.Within an hour they were in their pre-booked private beach resort in Phuket. Tania had booked it after an intensive search for a quite beach resort within their budget for their weeklong holiday.The resort was truly a paradise for the couples. With their cottage doors and windows opening to the sea on one side and pool on the other, the couples were already thrilled.“The lunch is ready so please freshen up and join at the restaurant,” said the manager handing over the keys to their porter.“I really want to take out my clothes and swim,” said Disha, gaping at the Europeans enjoying in the pool bar.“Me too Honey! But let’s have our lunch first,” said Daman putting his arms around her waist while Disha’s eyes were on Rishabh who was looking around with Tania just a few steps ahead.The moment they stepped into the room, Tania kissed Rishabh, who was still brooding over Disha’s changing behavior. Rishabh also kissed her in reciprocation and then rushed to washroom.Tania took out her diary and started scribbling, with a gentle smile on her face.“What are you doing now? I guess we are on a vacation, right!” asked Rishabh, the moment he came out.“Ofcourse! We certainly are! You know, how much I have yearned for these holidays,” said Tania with a beam and got up with her diary folded in her right hand to kiss her beau.“This is my gratitude journal and before I forget, I want to write all those things, I am grateful for. I am just trying to remember the magic of the day till now”.“Magic!” Rishabh wondered.“Daddy’s permission for a trip with friends, riding an airplane which is a wonder in itself, a power nap refreshing me for the day, safe landing, a sunny day after cold foggy days of Delhi, a pre-nuptial honeymoon with the most handsome doc, a beautiful silent beach resort within our budget, an awesome cottage by the sea, all four of us together….in Phuket. I have already counted ten blessings, which are no less than magic for me,” said Tania with a smile and coiled to the writing desk behind to put down her diary.“Hmm! U know your attitude is what pulls me like a magnet to you. But everyone today, wants to have fun and so work on their goals to go for vacations,” said Rishabh.“Wrong! Not every girl is getting a permission from her parents, planes can crash any time, many can’t even see or experience the sun, there are many who can’t sleep properly where as I managed a great sleep in the plane, many love stories end up before they are born, many can’t afford even a budget resort forget the sea view or pool view,” said Tania asserting herself. “I am more grateful when I talk about it and you are also one of the manifestations for me.”Rishabh came from a small town of Uttarakhand and was living in a hostel.His extremely fair complexion behind the black beard and an athlete built up with ever shining inquisitive eyes had always made him stand out in the college group.Tania, on the other hand, had been a day-scholar. Her mom was very fond of Rishabh ever since Rishabh had saved Tania from an accident. Rishabh’s family was also under the magical spell of Tania although they met on rare occasions.Suddenly the phone bell rang.“Are you both ready?” asked Daman.“Oh yes! We will be out in a few more minutes,” replied Rishabh and kept the phone.While Tania changed, Rishabh found himself sandwiching between a nymph and a desirable seductress.Soon four of them were in the restaurant. They occupied a table near the portico with floral climbers till the square open roof tops. It was a breath taking view. The pool had umpteen Europeans swimming in it to tan their bodies. They were all basking under the sun and happy escaping the severe winters of their respective countries.  At the brim of the pool were the sculptures of mermaids, painted in pink, blue and golden, pouring water into the pool from the pitchers in their hands. Just behind the pool, they could only see the huge serene and clear blue and green sea. The beach in between was not visible from the partly open restaurant. Tania and Daman were enjoying every bit of the picturesque scenery while Disha creeped her chair just opposite to Rishabh.Rishabh, now felt trapped almost like a monkey with its fist in the trap which can’t come out unless he releases the bananas or the nuts inside. Disha’s oomph factor, quite visible in her red strappy dress with blood red lipstick and penetrating eyes were, no doubt pulling him.Suddenly, Daman clenched his hand onto the table with his eyes still stuck to the vast sea and said, “Guys I am going to buy some vodka and wine and enjoy the evening here inside the pool. What say? No sightseeing, no clubbing. Let’s celebrate here for tonight.” All the three immediately agreed with a “wow” and so after the lunch, Daman went out for some liquor shopping while Tania ran and jumped into the hammock on the beach.“I don’t want to tan my body. I am going to my room guys!” said Disha while Rishabh’s eyes silently chased Disha although he chose to relax on the wooden recliners at close quarters with Tania.Tania was basking under the sun and enjoying the gentle touch of sea breeze. She was thankful for her dream of the sea on one side and Rishabh on the other. Soon, she was asleep. Rishabh was waiting for this; he suddenly got up and sneaked to Disha’s room.Disha was relaxing right there on the bay window. Her smooth, saucy legs turned Rishabh on. He didn’t want to waste the time. He jumped right from the window.“I was waiting for you,” she said in a husky voice into her ears while Rishabh hushed her and kissed. The moment he was to open the zip of her dress, the door bell rang. Rishabh stealthily jumped out of the window.Can’t believe it! You were waiting for me….curtains closed, much wavy locks, sensuous foot rub? What a beautiful kick! Incredible Phuket!” shouted Daman throwing his bag.“Oh you and your gratitude journal! Looks like we’re on your gratitude trip!” said Rishabh irritatingly, the moment he entered the room.“Look who is talking! I looked out for you on the beach and when I didn’t find you, I came back,” said Tania with a shock in her eyes. “By the way, I was thanking God for our beautiful future!”“Which has not even set in!” Rishabh said spitefully.“Why?” Tania gets surprised. “We are already in our honeymoon. What else do you need to start? Come here and sit,” she flipped her pages without enquiring further.“See just six months back, I had thanked God for my dream trip to Thailand and to a private beach resort in Phuket. Isn’t it a dream come true?” she showed her diary to Rishabh with date.Rishabh read her journal and couldn’t believe his eyes. Tania was right and then she showed her a few of her dreams manifested in the past one year, her mother’s health, her brother’s dream job and her results.“Believe me! God has abundance for all of us. You just need to have faith,” said Tania with a smile.Rishabh gazed at her in awe. He was certainly learning more about Tania, huddled over her dairy, in her denim shorts, red puff sleeved top and long straight tresses, she was definitely a fusion. Her thoughts on couple’s compatibility before marriage appeared strange in front of her deep faith like a good old granny.“Her aura always touches my soul. How can I ignore such a beautiful personality, inside out?” said Rishabh to himself.In the evening four of them sat together in the pool bar and enjoyed the cocktails, mock tails, pizza and swimming too. Rishabh tried to ignore the seductress in the string bikini, revealing her petite body.“Daman my back is burning. Can you please check?” said Disha with her eyes again on Rishabh.“There’s nothing honey. Let me rub some ice,” replied Daman and picked an ice cube to rub at her smooth dripping bony back. “You are tantalizing me!” he said in a low voice.“Let me enjoy the weather,” said Tania and swam towards the other end of the pool which meandered till the corner of the vast resort. Rishabh followed Tania.After the Christmas and New Year bash filled with music, dance, drum, wine, beer, fun, food and frolic they were all ready to leave Phuket. Rishabh still ….a pendulum.Their return tickets were booked from Bangkok. The taxi was booked and they happily bid Phuket a goodbye. As they drove their way, the darkness slowly covered the blue and orange sky and the stars slowly took over their positions, the four travelers were enjoying the music.Onthe Phuket- Bangkok Highway near Suratthani, the driver requested them to put some holy chants in his broken english.“Why?” asked Tania.“Madaame, this is accident zone and pirits….you know gosts…. stop caar causing accidents. I am Buddhist, I want to put …chanting,” replied the cab driver.“Are you mad!” giggled Rishabh“Don’t make fun!” said Tania pinching his arm.“Let the music run. We are doctors and don’t believe in ghosts,” said Rishabh reproachfully.“I don’t understand why do you like this metal?” saidTania in a teasing tone. “Let him put chanting for some time.”The moment Rishabh turned to reply; the taxi took a blind turn in order to save a creature crossing over and toppled upside down.Unable to open the doors and windows, they all shouted but in vain. The breathlessness suddenly increased. The three doctors tried their best while Tania prayed for help and imagined that help had arrived, thanking God for the same, repeatedly deep inside her heart.Driver and Disha had already fainted. Daman and Rishabh had also started losing hope when two men on a bike crossed the overturned car. They stopped and drooped to peep inside.Tania gesticulated forrescue.None of them could believe that they had survived a fatal accident. They thanked the good Samaritans who left almost like a bubble. While Tania and Rishabh brought Disha and driver back to their senses, Daman checked the car. The magic was still in the air or the angelic touch, the car turned on.Daman drove the car now with driver by his side; Rishabh took his window seat with Tania by her side. But this time, holding each other’s hand firmly with faith multiplied. The near death experience had turned everyone grateful for their magical retrieval.“Thank You Tania!” Rishabh mumbled in the ears of his lady of faith and felt fleshed out with love and faith. 

FUNNY MOMENTS IN SCHOOL
 Preeti Tal  
 19 September 2018  

Funny moments in school