I Want To Take My Blog To The Next Level #Blogchatter

(I was tagged by Anindya to write this post.)

Moment of Pride!

Moment of Pride!

So what do you do, when you see your interview-byte coming out in a leading newspaper, the go-to paper for the youth, The Telegraph You (courtesy your journalist-friend)? Of course, you put up your collar and show it off to your family, only to be… disappointed and have your bubble burst mercilessly when they shrug off saying, “You’ve been doing this, since ages. Pshaw!” Oh well. Sigh!

 

 

I remember the days when I’d initially started blogging. To my dismay, whenever I’d introduce myself, among many other definitions, a blogger, people could hardly relate with the term. And thus, every-time the drill went like explaining what a blog is, in the simplest of terms. “It’s just like an online diary, you know! Where earlier I used to pen down my thoughts in that leather-bound diary that I used to keep, now I do so digitally…”, and thereafter was followed by the wistful nodding. Funny thing is, most of them used to (and still do) sum up all my attempts to explain blogging into a simple “Oh, you’re a writer!” After a point, when I’d thought I’ll grow tired of all the explaining, surprisingly it didn’t! Instead it became a source of amusement for me, each time I had to explain my position. But of course, there were those rare times when I found myself talking to a fellow blogger and spend the time, sharing our similar & dissimilar thoughts over blogging.

It has been almost 3 years since I first rode onto the train of blogging. Innumerous bloggers-turned-friends and a couple of meets, not to forget the sheer joy of finding so many bloggers in your circle of friends, can really talk a lot for the increase in the pursuit of blogging in today’s times. I’d started my blog initially with the thought of keeping an online journal of poems, which I usually used to scribble down somewhere and eventually forget where I had! After a few months, I added writing stories to the list of poems, a new series called Coffee Talkies, which traces the journey of two diverse people, Shoi and Ayan. Sadly, with the dearth of time in my extremely tight schedule, I have been able to write only three installments of it till date. Hopefully, I should be able to continue it soon.

The next phase would be signing up with BlogAdda and Indiblogger, two nation-wide blogging forums. Winning the BlogAdda Newbie Award and then as most of us do, gaining those crucial gift vouchers in return of blogposts, which saves a lot of real money while online shopping!!

And then, Blogchatter happened. It feels so amazing to think that I’ve been part of it since its early days of inception and since then, the circle has increased and how! It’s such a pleasure when you see so many bloggers from different parts of your country connecting with each other in a common platform and trust me, there’s so little formal about it, proving true to its name, ‘chatter of the blog’-gers! It could have been just so easily any other cuppa sessions with your friends, the banter despite being virtual, so smooth! Though being a late entrant to Blogbuddy, a recent initiative of Blogchatter, I feel glad to be a part of it, though sadly I wish I could contribute to it way more than I probably could.

In recent times, there have been several instances when I have found myself surprised when it has come to blogging. The first one would be the moment when I came across the blog of a friend of my brother, which not only was started way back almost 9-10 years ago, but is also a wonderful blog with a considerable number of followers, of course. To think the tenacity, the passion revolving the blog, to be a part of the blog for almost a decade, is so awe-inspiring.

The second time I’d felt humbled was the time when a high-school bestie, with whom I didn’t have much of a contact these few years, happened to reveal to me an interesting fact, during one of our recent meets. While I’d been telling him yet another funny escapade of me with life, he had looked at me quite wistfully and said, “You might not know this, but I had saved your story of exploring new places with your dad, but you and not your dad leading the way, in my desktop and I still read it at times for inspiration, for the way you live your life.” There are times when a person finds himself utterly speechless and at that moment, with the bus cruising along the empty road and the night breeze chilling us, it had been both a stab of pride and humility for me.

The third would be attending the BlogAdda meet that happened in Kolkata, my home-city, this February and the associated feeling of pride of being a blogger, standing amongst the other bloggers in the historical Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata.

In all these times, if there’s anything else I’d wished, I wished I had a bigger blog, going much beyond where it is standing now. I’d felt this even more acutely when I started writing in association with Child Rights and You (CRY), a nation-wide organization, which works for the protection of child rights across different parts of India. I wished I could reach out to even more audience, to share and enlighten even more people about the plight of these children. And thus when the offer came from Blogchatter to take my blog to the next level, of course I just had to say yes!

For, I want to take my blog to the next level with Blogchatter.

I now tag Shinjhini to write her take on the topic. Cheers!

Casualties of War As Collateral Damage

The session "Casualties as Collateral Damage" as part of AKLF 2016  (L-R) Salil Tripathi, Kavita Punjabi, Nayanika Mookherjee, Ruchir Joshi. P.C Sourodip Ghosh

The session “Casualties as Collateral Damage” as part of AKLF 2016
(L-R) Salil Tripathi, Kavita Punjabi, Nayanika Mookherjee, Ruchir Joshi.
P.C Sourodip Ghosh

Any and every year, January means fests and being a voracious reader, the fests I’m primarily concerned and excited about are the literary fests. So when the opportunity came to work for the social media team of the Social Bong and Streets of Calcutta in association with the prestigious Apeejay Kolkata Literary Fest 2016, it was just the icing on the cake. Out of all the events that I covered, the session which moved me, more so academically, was the session entitled “Casualties as Collateral Damage” (with emphasis on the Bangladeshi Independence War of 1971). Moderated by Kavita Punjabi, the panel included authors Salil Tripathi, Nayanika Mookherjee and Ruchir Joshi, at the backdrop of the impressive Western Quadrangle of the Victoria Memorial.

While Ruchir Joshi opened the session in a light tone, being in his funny witty persona, it was the statement by Nayanika Mookherjee, which according to me, really set the mood for the wintery afternoon. “Itihaash kagojer paataye, khataye noye.” (History can be found in its pages and not in its books) Such a statement!

Salil Tripathi was of the view that earlier, wars were more like Test matches than T20 matches. According to him, India has been incredibly welcome to the refugees. According to the statistics quoted by him, 10 million of ‘em had come and 95% had went back, after a few months/years. None anywhere in the history of UNO can it be found that a poor country, in this case India, has borne so many refugees, yet they went back, after reaping the shelter of the same.

They spoke about 3 kinds of silences of war: A. People who knew what was going on but couldn’t care less. B. The Media, who had been silenced and blacked out. C. People like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the famous poet, who had actually taken efforts, for instance, signature campaigns but by virtue of curtailing of freedoms on part of the state, had been silenced and thus had to come back.

In fact, in order to vent his despair of the failure of his efforts, Faiz had went on to write a poem entitled, “Dhaka Se Waapsi Ke Baad” (After the Return from Dhaka), where he talks about his efforts and struggles, best captured by the verse,

“Ankahi keh gayi who baat, jo kehne gaye thhey Faiz.”

(The words remained unspoken, which Faiz had went to say.)

Talking about the unspeakables of war, Nayanika divulged that while the husbands of the women victims coaxed ’em on, the women themselves refused to get grilled. It was indeed the men who were more enthusiastic in letting the real stories be known, telling the researchers that the history lay with them, the “Talkable Itihaash” (The Talkable History).

She also talked about several incidents on the fragments of narratives that could be found. Two stories particularly hooked me on and needless to say, raised goosebumps. In the first story, a woman, on watching the oncoming of Kaalbaishakhi (The Norwester Storm), had mysteriously whispered, looking at the storm brewing, “Shedin erom chhilo” (That day was like this day). An eerie silence had followed, as the woman could later nowhere be found, having disappeared without a trace.

It was however the second story which absolutely moved the audience and loud gasps had filled the air. In this story, a young lady in a bid to protect her family members & the other girls of her village, kept forwarding herself to the army every night, without showing any kind of emotion. While her family kept crying, fully aware of what was happening to her but the lady herself remained stoic. Instead, on being asked how she had felt, the lady refused to tell her tale and rather said, “I’ll keep my silence.” But she did give away one statement, which was, “They (the army) took what they could take from me but they couldn’t get anything from Me.” And this happened to be one of many hundred similar stories.

While the session was drawing to an end, Salil Tripathi talked about the obstacles he faced, during the research, saying he was constantly reminded of his foreign-ness, to not being able to feel any kind of real empathy, for of course, he couldn’t, just couldn’t. He also said, while dealing with sensitive stories like this, it is important for the researcher to keep in mind that in no way should they do an intensive, entirely target-oriented grill, so much so they go on to recreate the terrible past in the minds of the victims. He also revealed a particular insight, saying to fill certain specified quotas, armies sometimes have to open fire, no matter the existence of any actual need to do so!

Nayanika Mookherjee said, what she discovered was this dark humor among the women. In fact, she was quite taken aback how ‘banterific’ these women victims can be regarding the after-effects of the 1960s-70s wars. They totally demasculated the men, when it came to talking and dealing with them, during and after the wars. She also said that, perhaps this dark humor actually served as a source of bonding, as a mode of acknowledgment of their painful struggle, without falling back into any kind of depression.

This thought-provoking session couldn’t have ended better, without the words of Salil Tripathi, who remarked, “Forgiveness is not possible, unless and without a tinge of remorse.” I say, forgiveness should never be done, cannot be done, to this phase of the history.

#AKLF CELEBRATES 125 YEARS OF AGATHA CHRISTIE AND HOW!

 

The Friday night, 15th Jan, Tollygunge Club. The stage was set and almost all the dignitaries for the evening had already made themselves comfortable. A few minutes after the clock struck 7, a sophisticated lady went up on the stage, to welcome the guests, sipping on red wine. Just when she gave up on the social niceties, seemingly drowsy from the wine running in her nerves, suddenly after barely having raised the guests a toast, she choked, to everyone’s horror. Aye, she choked, clutched her throat and staggered right in the middle of the stage! Some dignitaries panicked, some rushed ahead to inspect the collapsed lady and then! A gentleman made an entry, butler-style and announced, oh-so-calmly, that it seems the lady has been poisoned. But fortunately, the antidote to that poison and many similar poisons can now be found in a novel (to be revealed later in the evening) and thus the life of the lady had been saved! While people were caught in a perilous dilemma of whether to exhale in relief or roll back in laughter or just be simply embarrassed by their panicked reactions, the lady in question, with a little help, from the gentleman-cum-butler, strode down from the stage, nodding her head disbelievingly. A loud round of applause and there went the start of the session, entitled “Bloody Scotland and Dame Agatha” held by Apeejay Kolkata Literary Fest 2016, in true Agatha Christie flair, to pay homage to the 125 years of the Grand Old Dame.  If the start was anything to go by, the release of Kathryn Harkup’s novel “A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie”, with attendance by the lady herself, Dom Hastings, the director of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers Festival Stirling (to be held from 9-11th September, 2016) and Miss Anuja Chauhan, the lady behind all the great commercials, especially ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ of Pepsi and a great novelist as well, with the likes of The Zoya Factor, Those Pricey Thakur Girls and such to glow in pride, made the evening all the more better!

The Session "Bloody Scotland and Dame Agatha"  (From L-R) Dom Hastings, Kathryn Harkup, Anuja Chauhan and Sumit Ray. Picture Courtesy: Sourodip Ghosh

The Session “Bloody Scotland and Dame Agatha”
(From L-R) Dom Hastings, Kathryn Harkup, Anuja Chauhan and Sumit Ray.
Picture Courtesy: Sourodip Ghosh

Moderated by Sumit Ray, the session opened with Kathryn lauding Agatha Christie’s amazing quality of brilliantly putting scientific elements in the book. The desire to prove justice to her scientific-ness, creativeness and intelligence, was at the back of Kathryn’s mind while writing the novel on Agatha Christie, whom she quoted saying, being the greatest novelist of all time, only to be outbid by Shakespeare and the Bible. On being asked to describe Agatha Christie, Kathryn called her an entertainer. Not only she solves brilliant puzzles, she proves forward little intellectual challenges. Dom expressed his choice of Christie for the timeless classic element of & in her stories, no matter whether you have heard it or read it. Anuja exclaimed saying, Christie gets everything so bang on, even the science as well! Christie could be given any genres and she’d make it ring so very true!

Dom Hastings during the session. Picture Courtesy: Sourodip Ghosh

Dom Hastings during the session.
Picture Courtesy: Sourodip Ghosh

In response to the question that why crime writing as a genre is still popular and what is that still intrigues people, Dom, the director of a crime-writing festival himself, simply put it down saying, “we live in a world of crimes.” Kathryn took it up a step further, saying, it is apparently easy, in fact, frighteningly easy to kill a person. What led a person to commit such a thing is something to figure out. The human psyche and the compulsive nature of it is what is intriguing. Anuja described a whodunit as ‘who does it’ and it is precisely the “propulsive thrust” of any genre, that leads us to reading the same. In fact, it is the ‘little abode’, that is a lovely satisfaction to receive, at the end of a whodunit.

Kathryn Harkup during the session. Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

Kathryn Harkup during the session.
Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

On her justification of using poisons and their applications as the theme of her novel, Kathryn said, her role as a chemist (Yes, she is one!) could make her understand what a poison could do to a person, which was scientifically intriguing and besides, just for the sheer entertainment of it. As of getting all the alphabets of all the poisons (Christie had used 30 different compounds as poisons in her novels!) and whether she intended to take the alphabet series forward, Kathryn was quoted saying, it was a challenge, that unfortunately she is done away with, at the moment. It is otherwise just so exotic. On her interest behind the usage of poisons in her novel, she goes to give the definition of poison as a compound that changes everything in a body. Likewise, she calls everything a poison and thus her interest behind using ‘em. (She even says, too much of a water is a poison as well. Oh my!)

Anuja Chauhan in one of her light moments during the session. Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

Anuja Chauhan in one of her light moments during the session.
Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

Anuja, on being asked of the lack of visibility of Indian authors in the crime-writing genre, responded saying that Christie’s books are just so available and the bar is just so high (echoing Kathryn’s similar views), that maybe the Indian authors are afraid to tread in on that genre. In fact, Christie herself was an inspiration behind Anuja’s writing of novels and her construction of strong women characters. She wanted to have the power, the control to do anything with the lives of the protagonists. Her choice behind romance as a genre was the propulsive thrust of it, for she loved writing romance and reading ‘em as well, if the book was good enough. Her most interesting response came in the form of how much of her characters are from real life, quoting it as 60%, attributing ‘em as mostly being a result of shameless eavesdropping or just eager personal observations. Most of her characters are from real life, as she finds reality much more strange than the reality itself.

According to Kathryn, the most intriguing poison is Valium, that has such ghastly effects, it is very rarely used, and yet Christie uses it so well. In fact, given that in today’s times, there are antidotes to poisons available, but they are antidote in the sense that they can only correct the symptoms, and not really heal the person himself. In fact, she expresses her awe at Christie’s ability to talk and use those poisons in her books ably, almost 50 years before their application became widely talked-about.

The session, as it draws to an end. Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

The session, as it draws to an end.
Picture Courtesy: Arpita Pramanick

On their choice as their most favorite Agatha Christie novel, Dom chooses the novel Murder on the Orient Express as a classic novel. While both Anuja and Kathryn concur on Five Little Pigs as their favourite novel, but on being asked to choose her most favourite, she chose the novel And Then There Were None as her favourite. And last but not the least, with Black Coffee being moderator Sumit Ray’s favourite, let’s just raise a toast to the Grand Old Dame with our own dose of caffeine! Un-poisoned one, of course. *wink wink*

(Thanks to the Social Bong and Streets of Calcutta for making me a part of their social media admin. You guys are just great!)

Musings of Jhumpa Lahiri: Looking Back at Time

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Ever felt the joy when you stumble upon a favourite article of yours that you had written long time back and had forgotten all about it? I felt the same when I chanced upon this article I had made on Jhumpa Lahiri, after attending her much-talked-about prologue session in conversation with Rudrangshu Mukherjee, a notable historian, as part of the Kolkata Literary Meet 2014, at the epic Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. Not only was I impressed by what she had said, I could also connect with many of her thoughts, as I’m sure many of the readers will as well. So, without further ado, here it goes.

(Jhumpa Lahiri obviously doesn’t need an introduction. However, for the ignorant mortals, she is an Indian American author. Lahiri’s debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies (1999) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker Debut of the Year. Her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and was selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications and was also adapted into the popular film of the same name. Her book The Lowland, published in 2013, was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama.)

 

‘Absent presence and present absence.’ The first of her musings that struck me was her above statement. In the subsequent conversation that followed, what the audience got was a peek into her mind, her life. Jhumpa Lahiri claims to feeling like literally living in ‘double worlds’. She didn’t quite feel attached to a single place. Wherever she went, the very presence of Calcutta went along with her. But whenever she used to come back to Calcutta, she just couldn’t connect with the city with that same intensity. Feeling herself under constant scrutiny like an outsider, she felt frustrated at the lack of personal connection. She had to continually face this personal alienation, first at the age of 2 and then at the age of 5. (Her family had shifted and moved to provincial old town of west England.) For her, Kolkata was an unknown scary city. A city she wanted to grasp but always went out of her reach, one with melancholic undertones. Her parents had a yearning for the city which she couldn’t associate with. The goodbye nights, when they would return to England, after spending vacations in Calcutta, were terrifying for her. Though being a difficult decision to move out of Calcutta, she also felt exposed to her parents’ longing for the city, being their child. It was a source of constant anxiety for her due to consistent inability to connect to one particular place. But on the other hand, it was a source of freedom from any kind of belonging. According to her, any feeling whatsoever, is psychological, not reality based as such. It is more a figment of mind, this feeling of belonging to a particular place or a thing.

She started her reading in English. She was a passionate and voracious reader. She felt quite nervous in social interactions. In those times, books were her companion. She feels more at home inside a library. Thomas Hardy was an inspiration for her book The Lowland as she tried to recreate his idea of a place. She claims to have 99% of inspiration from English and American writers. Mavis Gallant, a Canadian writer very much inspired her. The writer’s work on exile and many varieties of them. She considers Hardy’s novels as very clean. Because she likes reading both novels and short stories, she likes writing them both. She disagrees that short stories are inferior. In fact, she considers them as one of the most powerful of all literary works.
Coming back to her personal life again, she lamented the loss of the Indian citizenship of her parents. She was again, acutely aware even as a child, that her English was something her parents could not relate with. She considers herself a very confused person, if not and without writing. Finding her calling in writing was a relief for her, because at a particular phase, she was in an utter loss as to what to do. She found her solace in writing. Writing makes her feel whole. She muses; ‘the connection created through writing between you and the outer world is so beautiful. The connection almost feels spiritual connecting with people you don’t even know.’ This is, according to her, literature’s biggest achievement. It gave her life a sense of purpose, which wasn’t really there before.

Her maternal house (at 110, Vivekananda road, Calcutta) were her inspiration for her first two stories. She was quite an observer, with her object being the constant flow of life. It was something quite fascinating for her. Acutely aware that she was a foreign import, an outsider in her own city, she had to grow into it. Accept the reality that she, in fact, felt like an outsider everywhere. She couldn’t call the Americans her own and she couldn’t call the Calcuttans as her own, facing an identity crisis. She obviously had this desire to fit in everywhere. In her book The Lowland, she dealt with a story her parents were trying to piece together, what had happened way back their home in Calcutta. An incident had happened a stone’s throw away from her parents’ house in Calcutta, involving a Naxalite who had been shot in front of his parents. She says, death does kind of pervade Lowland but there are many chances of redemption as well. She also mentions about the flight of the bird Heron, attributing it to the writer Thomas Hardy, who she considers, will be known for noticing such subtle changes or the things going on in nature.

She is of the view that sometimes ignorance is beneficial because with that comes the curiosity for it. She admits to having a superficial knowledge of Indian history yet has the desire to know it more. She finds places near or by the sea very beautiful and her personal favourite. She falls back into leisure musing that the older she is becoming, more is she discovering how fragile Life is. Nature has a profound influence on her as much as time and life has witnessed too. The book The Lowland is so titled because it is literally a place of absence and presence. She mentions of a Cape, a place which has so many ramifications for her life. She liked observing  the high and low tides of the sea, as they came and went. She liked the continuity of Life and the constant cyclical thing of change. She mirrors the her Life as a reflection of the coming and going of seasons. No one particular person or a thing really stayed or had a constant presence in her Life. Just as she said, an absent presence and a present absence in her Life….

I had then and again, refuse to give a conclusion to her thoughts. Some thoughts are best left to be mused on.

Chamcha Who?

This post is an entry to the ‘The Great Indian Blogging Contest’, as a part of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2015.

Sitting on the steps of the stage, with hands on his hips, Ayan’s face bore a murderous expression. Finding me, he pulled me down and exhaled a breath, saying, “I vow to never volunteer for any wedding decorations in future. Gosh, I’m so tired!” On seeing me laugh, he gave a wry smile.

People were slowly trickling in. I asked him, “You know about ‘The Great Indian Chamcha’ contest?” Ayan nodded, “Oh yeah, saw it in the papers.” I smiled and said, “So, who is a ‘chamcha’ for you?” He smirked, “A person who sweet talks and nods his head at every damn thing!” I pointed to a girl, pulling at her heavy and gaudy dress, looking visibly distressed and said, “Look at her.” Ayan snorted, “Gah! Why wear something that makes you uncomfortable?” I nodded and said “So, she isn’t a chamcha for you?” Ayan looked at me in disbelief and sputtered, “Kidding, right?”

I laughed and said, “She is wearing a branded dress, that too under her family’s compulsion, most probably.” Ayan challenged, “So?” I replied, “So, we often go by what has been the existing pre definition of ‘chamchas’. We just have to open our eyes and see that alongwith these so-called ‘chamchas’, there are many invisible ‘chamchas’ as well, who are very much present in the society, yet have a facade on, which makes them look oh-so-normal!” He threw up his hands, saying, “What exactly are you trying to say?” I took a breath and said, “Look around yourself, Ayan. Everything, starting with the very basic family to friends, society, education, politics, religion, money, career….Everything has bound our hands. From the formal diktats to informal rules, we all nod to these meekly, don’t we? Look at you and me!”

 

A number of people talking and expressing their own opinion at the same time. Result? Nothing!

A number of people talking and expressing their own opinion at the same time. Result? Humbug!

 

“Remember the time when we cringed, while shelling out some extra money, just to ensure ‘fame’ in our circle? You left your family business for an IT career. I drove my BMW here as a pointer to my position. Even our families, look at them! I was taught to always talk in English, for it looks posh and chic and your family didn’t even want us to be intimate, the only reason being girls and boys can’t be ‘just best friends’ in the eyes of the society! So, aren’t we all ‘chamchas’, in that sense of the term?” He dropped his head and remained silent for some time.   Turning back, Ayan cocked a smile, saying, “So, we all are ‘chamchas’, eh?” I smiled. Keeping my arm around his neck, I mused.

Yes. We all are chamchas. Knowingly or unknowingly. Visibly or invisibly. Love it or hate it, ‘Tis a necessary Evil. Survival in this world and especially in a place like India, is impossible without having even a little bit of ‘chamchagiri’ in us.

We drifted off; eyes and mind seemingly lost somewhere while the inevitable truth laughed at us.

And there goes my story of ‘The Great Indian Chamcha’.

Visit http://www.aklf.in  http://www.facebook.com/GreatIndianCircus & http://www.kolkatabloggers.com to know more about ‘The Great Indian Blogging Contest’.

 

2014 Curtain Call!

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Last night, I don’t even remember when I had slept off. I had been terribly tired after a movies’ day out with family and friends and could barely keep my eyes open. I was having this dream of the amazing Christmas outing I had this year when suddenly it got broken. When I woke up disoriented, it was the middle of the night and I found myself in the bed, with the same clothes on, albeit with a blanket, someone had cared to pull over me. The clock showed 3:00 a.m. I slapped my hand on my face and muttered an oath. I so hate being an insomniac. Even being mind-numbingly tired, couldn’t help, Good Lord! My mind reeled in the snatches of the dream that I was having and my face invariably broke into a smile. I stretched myself and lit the study table lamp. Might as well make myself comfortable, as sleep is a reticent visitor at my house. While picking up the half-read story book, my hand brushed the calendar. 31st December. Just this day left, for the year 2014 to pack its bags and never come back. That eternal question came into my mind. How did the year pass so quickly?! I wandered off into space, travelling back to the very first month of 2014.
As usual, new year rings in with a host of resolutions, which as the saying goes, are meant to be broken, but then, I believe in keeping the resolutions, most of which I have been able to keep, as well. So, no regrets there. I had went on to make my entry in Twitter, which ultimately became one of the biggest element in changing my Life. In many ways more than I had imagined anyone or anything could ever.
Some of the resolutions that I had taken, as far as my memory goes, included regular jogging, reading lots and lots of books and the new thing that was included this passing year was more social networking. In Twitter, which apparently was new for me. I had got to know about this community called the TSBC (The Sunday Book Club) from the daily newspaper The Telegraph and being the bookworm I was, I was undoubtedly attracted to it and thought it the best way to start in Twitter. I straightway joined in the discussions, made some real good friends with mutual love for books in the past few months and had it not been for TSBC, Twitter wouldn’t actually have happened to me. So, thank you TSBC for giving me a new lease of life in Twitter.
Cutting back to March, my birth month. By this time, one Twitter follower had accidentally come across me through TSBC, who also happened to be a fellow Calcuttan. He also happened to be the person who took me to my first Tweetup, that too on my birthday itself, resulting in meeting up with some more Twitter friends. If not for anything else, I’ll be forever grateful to him for introducing me to these and some more people.
Incidentally, it was through him that I followed another girl, who happened to be very sweet and also a part of a group, which I literally bumped into. Bumps are usually bad, but this bump, I guess, would go down as one of the happiest bumps I had in my life! This group was pretty large, with already 9 people in it and with me gatecrashing into the party, took it to 10. We hit off instantly, subsequently resulting in the creation of a Watsapp group and that journey goes on still now and hopefully for years to come. This group again revolutionized my life.
From initial misunderstandings to clearing of them, the journey was one hell of a roller coaster ride. We shared our joys and sorrows together. I personally was involved in a one-on-one bitchy fight with a girl of my age of the group. We fought like cats and dogs and I still wonder whether that day had actually happened when we had offered olive branch to each other, which paved the way to a brilliant friendship. So much so, I actually was offering her tips and choosing her shoes for a date she had, recently, which would have been unthinkable, even a few months back. Life does have its share of surprises!
Till now, this group have had 4-5 meetups and touch-wood, this group has been going strong, with its own share of quarrels and misunderstandings. There has been little we haven’t shared with each other and individually as well.
One wonderful thing that I’m thankful to God for, is getting a guy best friend by my side, from again, this very group. I have had just one best friend till now, who has shifted to another state and doesn’t even know me that well now. Yeah, I’m extremely choosy, when it comes to making best friends. However, after him, I now know the perks of having a guy best friend and needless to say, I’m very eager to hold on to him for the rest of my life. He and I have gone through many phases and despite the many lows we have had, there have also been the highs which I shall always cherish and also the very reason why I wont leave him and ensure the vice-versa. That doofus is sure gonna have to suit himself to me.
I have had a bit of taste of that overrated Love element as well. However, my notion regarding Love remains the same. Despite the fact that I call myself a hopeless romantic, actual love remains overrated and fictional to me. My mantra be like, “No Love for me, please!”. As a recent song goes, Love is actually ‘a waste of time’ for me, but unlike the very next line, I actually don’t want to waste my time, simply because I don’t get the time now!!
I also became friends with two men, who have went on to become the two pillars on whom I could take support, whenever I am in need of it. Given the fact that they are single-minded in refusing to being delegated to the status of being brothers to me, so they are the best-est friends that I could have had. Both are mutual book lovers and while I’m close to one for being just a mutual book lover (he is actually a literary maverick and makes me wonder sometimes how the heck did I land up with him!), I’m heavily dependent on the other one emotionally. So, obviously I’m very possessive about the two of them, which though leaves them in splits, but yeah, that’s how it is.
Taking a break from all these online forays, a lot happened in my ‘offline’ or real life as well. The initial first months saw me in this great phase of confidence brimming in me, after a successful outing at the Kolkata Literary Meet, which had hosted some of the greatest authors, writers et al. This was followed by completing an internship with CRY (Child Relief and You), being in the job of analyzing the health data statistics of the entire North-East area of CRY. Makes me also humbled to say that I was the only intern who had been selected for that job. I was lucky to have observed in person, how an NGO actually works and that, it is not a piece of cake for anybody out there to have mere fun. It gave me an experience of working in an office too, which was exciting for me, to say the least, at least for now! I made some great friends there as well, all of whom live outside, yet are still in contact. The very reason why the goodbye had been very difficult for me. It makes me feel joyous to see my hard work get its reward when my name gets published in the reports that I made there. I’m also a bit proud to say that I finally get to call myself a Spanish beginner, having completed the Communicative Level at Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, the only institution to offer official Spanish training in India, apart from a similar one in New Delhi. Yet more great friends there as well. I dated with the French language too, but mostly we share a long distance relationship and don’t get to share much time! Completing the beginner level of swimming also made the love for waters grow in me and made me realize how much I loved diving.
Around this very time, most probably around May or June, I happened to open my blog, the very blog in which you’re currently reading this blog post. Though I used to write from high school itself, but didn’t really get much time to open a blog. Hence, a late starter. This blog has seen quite a ride as well. From publishing the first prose to first poem, to getting positive reviews, some downright kind and touchy, this blog has given me its share of joys. The year 2014 got very beautifully rounded up with being awarded the Notable Newbie Award by #BlogAdda, one of the leading blogging communities of India. Honestly and frankly speaking, it still doesn’t sink in, that my blog, which is mainly categorized as Personal, did get such an award. Needless to say, I’m happy and thankful of BlogAdda for choosing me and giving me great inspiration to write more.
Sometimes, things happen which you never thought could happen. Likewise, I loved poems from a very early age, but could never call myself a poet, because I couldn’t simply write them. I was known more for being a prose writer rather than a poet in my friends’ circle. But now that everyone calls me a poet more than a prose writer, it makes me feel touched and amazed that how the heck did that happen?! The fact that I’m dallying with Haiku, one of the most challenging forms of verse and Hindi verses as well, makes me sit back, look up and ask the guy up there, what’s cooking in your mind, mate!
Anyone can write a story but writing a story in less than 99 words, giving a new lease of life to a particular frame, trying to get a space in among, what I consider, some of the greatest writers I ever encountered, is what I consider one of the biggest challenges. Which One Frame Stories happened to give me. Trust me when I say, my stories don’t even have a para which is less than 99 words and that my ultimate high-school English tuition teacher would actually faint in surprise and joy on seeing me achieve that feat! Not to forget the fact that I myself can’t believe I’m actually able to do that. God has been kind in getting the only two stories I’ve written, published in there. Here’s hoping I continue challenging myself more and getting the returns I’ve been receiving. Oh! Another news and subsequent feeling to be shared. Given the fact that my student happened to land up a gold medal in Science Olympiad, it was taking me all not to throw up my hands and scream in joy, along-with the student herself, because after all, I’m her teacher and well, that would unbecoming of a teacher to do so!
So, in all, Life has been very kind with me this 2014. Though I wouldn’t ask a repeat of this year in 2015 or even more, however tempting it might be, I would just like all of the people above mentioned and the readers to stay with me. With all of your support, I’m sure I’ll be able to override any obstacles that comes in my life. Thank you, people. Happy New Year. Have a great year ahead!

HER BROTHER, HER KNIGHT

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She woke up to his lullaby,
His morning kiss making her smile.
And when she refused to get out,
His tickles made her giggle.

Tip-toying to the cupboard,
He asked her to keep quiet.
Just before their mother trooped in,
And carried her out of the room.

She glanced back and suppressed a smile,
When he peeped and winked at her.

Together they shared every meals,
Together they went hand in hand to school.
He’d protect her like a shield,
While she was too happy with her world.

She would laugh out loud,
While he swung the swing.
He used to teach her every night,
Their parents were only too happy for her.

But ’twas all a secret,
She had promised to keep.
He had made her understand the rules of a game,
They all were playing.

Where she would be the only child,
And he would be invisible.
Yet he would always be with her,
Come whatever may.

She played along alright;
The truth was hidden from her.
What she did not know was,
Her brother was dead.
Has been dead for the past 5 years.