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The Cricket Bat

The Cricket Bat

The continuous ringing of doorbell was a unique trait of Papa’s arrival. Every time that happened I almost instinctively knew who would be on the other side of the door. I was right this time too.

As soon as he entered he announced, “Listen I have a meeting in the evening and I will be leaving early. Sit down, I want to have a quick chat regarding the preparations of the reception”. We both sat down on the sofa in the living room and started discussing. I told him about the things that were already taken care of and what were the expenses involving that.

He went to the items that were yet to be finalized and what would it approximately cost us. While he was still speaking I don’t know when I involuntarily stood up and started walking to and fro. In fact, I didn’t realize until he pointed out to me.

“Why can’t you simply sit and continue a serious conversation? Why are you so restless always?” Papa questioned digressing from the main discussion. By now mom and sister had also joined in. In an attempt to showcase sincerity I blurted, “I am all ears and listening very carefully to what all you are suggesting”.

A smirk had already formed on my sister’s face. She knew where this was heading, like the usual conversations where, in the end, Papa will get angry and frustrated and without completing the discussion, shout at me and leave for some work.

My Cricket Bat

Papa began again with the details. A few minutes later he shouted again. This time I was unconsciously shadowing batting postures with my favorite childhood bat in my hands. “I am earnestly listening to you, Papa. I swear. I can repeat each and every word that you have said”, I pleaded to keep him calm.

It was too late. He was already irritated and all I could overhear was he shouting at mom saying what’s wrong with this boy? Why can’t he just listen to me? Even if he can’t…he can at least act? Someday I will definitely burn this cricket bat of his, somehow it becomes a part of every discussion. My mom sarcastically replied to him, “You are the one who gifted the bat to him”.

The ignition of the car suggested that Papa drive away. My sister was now laughing, as it was a daily routine for her to see every discussion end this way.

My parents say that I have a good memory and a decent recall power. As far as I can remember the first memory about myself is holding a plastic cricket bat and being surrounded by plastic cricket balls. I was about 8 or 9 years old when Papa gifted this bat to me.

Even in ‘the State of Happiness’ I highlighted this. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

I would carry this bat along with me everywhere possible. Like the girls have their dolls by their side, I would have my bat. I would even sleep with it. I have scored most of my childhood runs with this bat. I still remember how Papa taught me to oil a cricket bat and how I would take care of it like the most precious thing in the world.

It has seen its ups and downs. They were phases where I felt that it might get broken but with the help of some adhesive tapes and extra love and care, it has seen those treacherous and scary days off.

Even today, if you visit my house you will find it in the living room living along with us. You will still see me playing around with it, mimicking cricketing postures even during serious discussions. There were many times when my mother and sister during their clean-up drives, tried to get rid of it. But they know that it is like those older movies of fairy tales where the villain will only die once you kill his pet parrot, similarly my lies in this cricket bat. It is my first cricket bat and is like my first love.

For all those who love cricket,

For all those who have their bats with them,

For all those who still play with them,

And

For all those who are still living with them…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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16

The State of Happiness

It was an early Sunday morning. Around 5 am he shook me out of my slumber. He signaled me to be extremely cautious and not make any noise. He hated waking up people but on Sundays, he would make an exception. I quietly picked up my cricket bat and bowl and went to the roof. I had to make sure that I don’t wake up my mom else our plan of morning cricket would not be executed. He was waiting there for me.

For fifteen years since my early childhood, my father and I would go and play cricket every Sunday morning. On days when we would be playing on the roof, we had to take care of the plants mom had planted. On those evenings she would find a branch or two cello-taped and we would be banned from playing on the roof. This ban would only last till the next Sunday and my father and I would be back to our mischievous best.

That is my earliest memory with my father. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

Happiness is like success. It is not a destination but the journey. It can last for a moment, an hour, a day or a lifetime. It depends a lot on internal as well as external factors. It is a state of mind.

Happiness brings a smile but a smile is not necessary for me to be happy. I can be silent…observing a picturesque view…and be completely happy without smiling. And I can be all smiling and laughing out loud without being happy.

Happiness comes from within and depends from person to person. A person can have all the wealth and pleasure of the world and he might still be unhappy while, on the other hand, a person earning just daily wage…sleeping on a footpath be content and happy. People befriend adversity and somehow find happiness in that also.

A monk is happy when he finds peace through meditation while an entertainer finds happiness by witnessing how happy his audience is.

For me;

Happiness was playing cricket with him – when he would be my partner at the other end or I would be facing him.

Happiness was sleeping was on his chest and talking to him for unlimited hours sitting on his shoulders.

Happiness was asking him irrelevant innumerous ‘whys’ and he patiently responding to each and every one of them.

Happiness is finding sleep in mom’s lap and love in her food.

Happiness is teasing your sister and pulling out pranks on her and then spending the rest of the days pleading her not to complain to mom.

Happiness is having a meal together with all the family.

Happiness is the tea, pakode (snacks) and the petrichor of first rain.

Happiness is facing the red cherry opening the batting.

Happiness is bowling leg spin and getting the batsmen bowled behind his legs.

Happiness is holding her hand when you are down and out, knowing that there is someone in the entire world who will never turn her back on you when the entire world will actually face the other way.

Happiness is going for a long bike ride in the mountains.

Happiness is playing with kids and letting them win.

Happiness is taking a long walk in a downpour and getting completely drenched.

Happiness is cracking jokes in a group of friends and being a reason for their smiles.

Happiness is traveling to places, meeting new people, learning about their cultures, eating their food, speaking their language and experiencing their lives.

Happiness is dancing to any tune and making others dance with you too.

Happiness is acting in a theatre play and seeing your parents with tears in the audience.

Happiness is the delight of putting my thoughts into words and seeing it reach to the readers.

I believe these days everybody is so caught up in the paraphernalia surrounding them, that they have actually forgotten how to smile…how to be happy. We are just living a dead life. It is like pressing the play button at 28 and stopping it at 60 without realizing to live the moments.

I took the part of being the Joker to bring some smiles and happiness to people and their lives whenever and wherever possible. Humor is the medicine which can save lives out of grimmest of situations. I have seen biggest conflicts getting resolved when both the parties broke into laughter at the same time.

Smile often, people…Laugh genuinely…be aware of every moment. Let happiness come to you rather than you pursuing it. And you will surely find your peace.

For all those are in the pursuit of happiness,

For all those who believe in positivity,

For all those love to smile

And

For all those who are genuinely happy…

It’s not a goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

12

Through the Mist – Book Review


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Cover Page

Through the Mist – Book Review

Book: Through the Mist

Author: Sona Grover, Abirami,

Adhithya, Nimitha & Rupali

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Jimpify Publishing (29 Aug 2017)

Price: Rs 99

Pages: 92 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

One picture – Five Authors – Five stories – One Book. This in itself is an interesting premise for anyone to enlist ‘Through The Mist’ in his or her reading list.

About four years back I took part in a collaborative effort to come up with content worthy of publishing. Collaborative writing can sometimes turn out to be very tricky. It can be less writing ‘effort’ but it can surely be more ‘headaches’. When too many heads collide taking a story in a definite direction then sometimes the story takes the back seat and ego begins to power the engine. Anyway, let’s not digress.

Sona Grover, one of the five authors of the book, to do a review for them, approached me. My bargain was; an honest review in exchange for a free copy.

I found the overall premise very intriguing. A picture, which is also the cover page, was shared with the authors and each was expected to start with their version of the story keep the picture as the pivotal point.

Usually when authors collaborate the book turns out to be an anthology but what makes ‘Through the Mist’ interestingly unique is that each author will share their unfinished draft with other authors in a sequential manner and after all the authors have written on every story then only it will be considered complete. So that means each author will contribute to every story.

It is like a relay race of writers. You don’t know how the next is going to imagine and write or how good the outcome would be; all you could manage is your own leg.

The Motivation

The team:

Jithin, who provided the inspiration for the book. He blogs at www.trablogger.com

Abirami, the teenager who’s obsessed with writing and blogs at www.theobsessivewriter.com

Adhithya, the youngest teenager of the team who blogs at www.wordstuggedatheartstrings.wordpress.com

Nimitha, the writer who finds time to write between her busy work schedule. She blogs at www.nimzrevealed.wordpress.com 

Rupali, the teenager studying maths and writing poems at www.literatureismyporn.wordpress.com

Sona, an avid reader and the resource person to lend any help. She blogs at www.sonaonline.wordpress.com

Aadhira, the in-house editor who pushed everyone to write this book, blogs at www.aadhira.me

The five stories are:

‘A Middle Class‘ story brings us Pari, the independent, headstrong girl whose parents want her to marry and settle down. Love has other views and comes unexpectedly through Rehan. In this comedy of errors, blunders pile on and the protagonists head a laugh riot.

In ‘A strange Life‘, Aarya, bored with her profession and disappointed with her personal life, finds an unexpected adventure that is a little too much for her to comprehend. Can she manifest the life she has wanted to have, by reclaiming her power?

Aakash cannot forget Anavya, the love of his life. His longing turns him into a poet and he hopes and waits for her, years later. ‘Languish in Love‘ is a delicate story that explores love, longing, pain.

‘The Lone Man‘ is hard-hitting. All John wants is to forget his wife Sarah’s death and get on with his life. But his nightmares and visions would not let go of him.

‘Turn of the Tides‘ is set at sea and the men who have lived with the sea and loved her are the ones who fear her now. Can they conquer their dread and have the sea lose her power over them?

PROS:

What surely works for the book is the diversity that each of writer brings to the table. With their experiences and thought processes that vary from a teenager to a mom, it definitely adds on to the flavor. The love of writing is what makes this a ‘team’ irrespective of the difference in their culture, language, preferences, age groups and perspectives.

The standout thing in the book is that each story is completely different from each other and do not belong to a single genre. That is very refreshing, as it doesn’t overdo a single theme or genre.

One thing which I would like to highlight since each story exchanged hands five times that there was consistency in the storyline and the theme in all five stories. It is a swift read with only 92 pages.

CONS:

The role of an editor in such a collaborative effort becomes crucial and critical. I felt that the authors were let down by average editing, judging by how the stories were stitched.

The other thing, which I believe, could have been a bit better is the vocabulary. There are far too many grammatical errors. So the onus lies with each author as well as the editor. I can understand the flow of the stories not being smooth because of the format but still, that’s no excuse for the grammatical errors.

How it came about:

My favorite story:

The last story how it personifies the sea. I like it for its poetic and metrical tone and how expressively it gives ‘Sea’ a voice.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons in ‘Through the mist’. It’s definitely worth a read once. I give two and half stars for the stories and another half a star for the concept. It’s 3 out of 5 for the unique collaboration i.e. ‘Through the Mist’.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy here: Amazon

18

Some might say that it’s wrong

 


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It was the last day before the summer vacations of the kids were about to start. All the ladies in the WhatsApp group – ‘Class of 2003’ were busy gossiping about how they have convinced their husbands to pick up their kids from the school.

Nothing is as refreshing as seeing your father at the end of a long hot summer afternoon at school come to receive you.

They all lined up outside the main gate, waiting for the final bell to go off. Most of them were coming straight from work in their formals while some belonging to the self-employed class had the privilege of being in casuals. But there was one, who was dressed up like a cool dude. He had come on his Royal Enfield Bullet. The aura around him suggested that this guy doesn’t have an iota of a worry. He too was their batchmate but looked way too younger and was in great physical shape. He was so good looking that some of their wives even teased them by mentioning his name at odd hours.

The moment the other men saw, the humming of bees started among them. Each and every one was jealous of him. It was as if the roles had reversed and now they were discussing (read cribbing) more like their wives. The reason being he was still unmarried.

The WOW prompt

Some might say that it’s wrong to remain unmarried but I really envy him for the fact that how can someone have so much freedom and fun. Slowly each of them started pouring their heart out:

You get to sleep on any side of the bed…in fact, the whole damn bed is yours. No fight for the pillow…no tug-of-war for the blanket at night. No changing of diapers at 2 am.

These so-called ‘parents’ and ‘elders’ are never satisfied with whatever you do. They were after my life first to get married. After I got married they were after me for giving them a grandchild. Now once I fulfilled their wish they are chasing me to give the child a sibling.

First, they say you are doing all this for the family but where is the time for the family. From 8 am to 11 pm I am slogging in the office earning for the EMIs that are reducing us bit by bit. If it weren’t for wife’s Facebook posts I would have even missed the growth of my kids.

Some relatives suggested get married to a small town girl; she will be a good housewife. Now she has become a great housewife along with three maids doing the better half of her duties.

He still gets to play cricket on weekends while we spend most of ours in the queues of supermarkets. He is partying on Friday nights while we are busy helping out with home works.

He gets to take out his bike, do solo trips and explore the mountains while we end up spending the holidays just planning where to go. Most of us spend more time doing to and fro outside the movie theatre than actually watching the movie.

In fact, to his credit, he did give a Russian girl a real chance but the family went crazy the moment he brought her home. His life is so perfect as he can choose to go out with different girls on different nights and his eyes became moist (The one who was saying this). Everyone went quiet reflecting on their miserable lives.

The bell rang…kids came out running…each outpacing the other in the desire to hug their father.

The dude overheard everything. He turned towards the men and said; “You know what I miss the most, my bundle of joy running towards me like this as if I mean the world to him.”

For all those who are still unmarried,

For all those who are single,

For all those who are married

And

For all those who love their kids

It’s not a Goodbye

but it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

25

The UGLY Teddy

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Once upon a time in a far-off place, beyond the snow clad mountains, within a mesmerizing landscape, where nature was in its purest form, where the freezing streams originated there was a picturesque land known as ‘Teddyland’.

In Teddyland everyone was a teddy bear. From adults to children, from stout to tall, from brown to pink to red to orange, everyone was a personification of a teddy.

In teddy land there lived J, the most jovial of all of them, a teddy that was the center of everyone’s attention. Wherever he was he would always be surrounded by other teddies that would be laughing out at his tales of witticism, puns, and gags. Female teddies drooled over him. Anyone who got an opportunity of his cuddles never forgot his feel.

What made him unique was his appearance to go along with his nature to make everyone laugh at all times. He was surely different than any other teddy of the Teddyland. He had no fur on his head…he was bald. To make matters worse he had misplaced teeth and no jawline. With humor came a lot of sarcasm, which won him a lot of accolades, but the fate seemed to differ when it came to love.

One day a female teddy, S, from the neighboring village came. She was in the market when she heard a loud laughter erupt. She got curious to know what it was. The moment she laid her eyes on J, she was in love with his imperfect smile. Somehow none of J’s imperfections mattered to her.

She confessed her love to J. They started seeing each other. Met, ate and danced together. The moment she cuddled J, her love for him deepened. They became inseparable.

They decided to take a step forward in their relationship and get married. S was very skeptical of her parent’s response. Her mother knew of J, she had seen him perform many of his gigs. She liked his performances but never approved of his looks.

When S discussed about J to her mom, she outrightly rejected him. Her mom told her that she belonged to a royal family with grace and splendor and possessed beauty for which others are ready to kill. How can she stoop down to this ‘Ugly Teddy’?

S never wanted to disappoint her mother, as she was the sole reason for her existence. She knew all the hardships her mother had faced to raise her. But she was in too much love to let go off J either.

She tried to convince her mom but their love was defeated.

In the end, the respect for a mother won over the love for an Ugly Teddy.

Many years later, S was visiting Teddyland with her husband and children. They were taking a stroll by the stream. She heard an eruption of laughter. All of them went to see what the commotion was all about. There was J, right in the center of the action, a little balder and fatter with wrinkles beginning to sketch out, doing the only thing he knew – to make others laugh.

He instantly recognized S. He brought a couple of cotton candies, handed them to the kids, hugged them one by one, wished and blessed the couple and disappeared into the crowd of teddies.

For all those who want to live in Teddyland,

For all those who believe love is beyond looks,

For all those who want cuddles

and

For all those who love Teddy Bears…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Wow Prompt

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

35

When I Tell the Truth

 


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When I tell the truth…

I was returning from the temple back to my room. She was walking on the other side of the road with her roommate. Both of them were my classmates too. I closed my eyes, silently prayed to God and hopefully crossed the road.

I began, “I want to discuss something really important with you and seek your advice.”

“Definitely, I am all ears”, She replied.

“There is this girl, who is really amazing. I feel I have fallen for her. There is only a single thought in my mind…and that thought belongs to her”, I said.

“So what’s the issue…that you have fallen for her”, she said sarcastically.

“Hahaha…No No! She is a dear friend. I treasure the bond. I am scared that the moment I share my feelings with her, I might lose both; her and the friendship”, I said anxiously.

“Listen the honest thing for you would be to speak up about your romantic inclinations towards her. If she is genuinely a close friend then I am sure she would understand it and won’t let it strain the friendship even if she isn’t willing to give the relationship a try”, she advised.

“I am still hesitant. I mean you are saying this because you aren’t in that position and this might still backfire”, I persisted.

“Trust me. If your emotions are heartfelt and sincere they will reach their correct destination and create the rightful impact. Don’t worry…just go ahead and express it to her”, she encouraged.

wow prompt – Blogadda

“That girl is YOU”, I said and there was complete silence. They both were staring at each other. She was stunned while her roommate was giggling.

“Yes…that girl is YOU”, I said again.

Suddenly out of nowhere, she started laughing. I was amazed and somehow embarrassed. Here I was pouring my heart out and she was blowing it up as nothing happened.

“Nice try Mr. Joker. I loved the way you worked around it. I am aware of your pranks. Keep working”, she laughed off loudly.

About thirty seconds later I said, “Exactly, everybody has fallen prey to my jokes and pranks except you”, desperately trying to hide my shattered heart with a wide grin.

I guess the irony of my life is when I tell the truth people treat it as a Joke and when I joke they take it straight to heart.

For all those who have been friend zoned,

For all those who have met similar fate,

For all those whose jokes are misunderstood

And

For all those who know how to smile on themselves…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Its an amazingly humbling feeling when somebody is inspired by your words. Here is a post by MsArora inspired by this very post by the Joker. Read here

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

20

The FISHBOWL

It was dark and crowded. The DJ was in his groove and the music was too loud for my eardrums. The neon and laser lights kept on flashing and at times irritating me. Though the room had varied beauties dancing off to the latest numbers my eyes were still in search of something else. Everything that I was seeing didn’t seem to excite me.

They (eyes) started scanning the room from one end to the other slowly following a green laser light. The freshness of the sweat glistened faces had long gone. The intoxicated arms were beginning to loose rhythm and were now not in sync with the electro mix that was screeching through the human sized speakers.

Suddenly I felt there was a gaze constantly fixated on me. I took a sip of the single malt (my second large) and tried to follow it but the inebriated swaying bodies were making it difficult.

The DJ changed the track and made a hand gesture in the dark. A help in the form of a spotlight appeared. It kept flashing on random people till the time it was on her. It didn’t seem random anymore.

She was in a white breezy summer dress, something perfect for the weather and occasion, standing near the bar counter. Her gaze was still on me. If it would have been some other day, I might have felt uncomfortable but on that day the confidence was there in the right place (thanks to single malt). The moment her gaze met mine, her lips responded with seduction. She was like a true magnet and I, like a raw iron piece, started getting attracted towards her.

Unconsciously my feet started moving towards those eyes. I couldn’t care for the crowd, the pushing or the shoving. The hypnotized me kept moving on. I stopped a good three feet away from her. Smile was a permanent feature of her exquisite face. I realized my lips were already resonating with the shape of her lips.

I was yet to speak to her but something in her face especially her eyes through her round retro spectacles suggested that she was yet to consume any alcohol. For some strange reason I felt she doesn’t belong here and blurted, “Are you looking for someone?”

She moved her red lips and answered, “YOU”.

The ‘you’ echoed in my head. I felt this couldn’t be real and I had to regain my senses. I kept my drink glass on the counter and took a glass of water and guzzled it in a single go. She was watching me patiently.

“Yes you heard it right. I am looking for you”, She said playfully. There was calmness about her face and was sexy in a soothing kind of way. She was flawlessly beautiful.

“Do you like such crowded soulless places”, she asked.

“Not usually. Only with my friends”, I replied.

“Then how come you are alone today? What brings you here?” she questioned.

“I guess for the same reason that brings you here”, I responded.

“Oh! That means you are here for ME”, She said and broke into a gracious laughter. I was matching her giggle by giggle, mesmerized by the serene sight.

We both had signed up with a dating app, which after proper scrutiny of profiles organized events where singles could meet up. Their interview process was like obtaining a job offer.

“It is getting late and I don’t like it here. Shall we go to my place”, She asked. Though it was a question but she already knew the answer. After clearing the cheque we exited from the place and reached the car park and from there drove to her expensive high-rise apartment.

I know what you are thinking but she was way too classy to be an escort or something of that sort (at least that is what I thought).

It was a huge apartment, which was very tastefully done. We sat in the living room on the smooth plushy couch.

“Would you prefer whiskey or some wine”; She was being a good host.

She poured some wine for herself too. We sat there, chatted and had our wine late into the night. It was too blurry to exactly remember the time when we started melting into each other. She maintained great poise doing everything.

We made insane carnal love. It was pure bliss at least her expressions suggested. Completely spent we both dozed off with her head snuggling into my chest.

A tickling sensation broke my slumber. It was her hand on my chest. She was awake as if she never slept. We again started sharing talks.

I asked, “What do you like as in hobbies and all?”

She looked outside the window. The morning was just round the corner. She turned around towards me with a naughty smile and said, “Morning sex”.

Right after the morning session of love making just when that feeling of love and affection was about to sow its seed, she said, “Could you please do a favor for me?”

“Please go ahead”, I replied.

Photo by Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

She handed me a small piece of paper and said, “Please write your name on this”.

“That’s it”, I said still unable to make anything of it. I wrote my name on the piece of paper and handed it over to her.

She kissed the piece of paper and put it in a flashy fishbowl that was kept on an antique table right next to the window.

“What happened? Why did you do that? And why doesn’t this Fishbowl contain any fish and more importantly Why are there so many pieces of paper inside it”, I quizzed.

She stood there quietly. My expression told her that she would not get away without giving an answer.

She replied, “The pieces of paper in the Fishbowl contain all the names of men that I have made love to.”

For all those who have been in such scenarios,

For all those who have made morning love,

For all those who have fallen for beauty,

And

For all those who still believe in true love.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas “Sameer” Mukul

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