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Click on the below links to read my previous stories..

Bus#126W       My Family and I       Games we play       All Roads Lead Home       As Good As It Gets       Whodunit?      

The Reunion       A Dog's World      My Sister's Daughter

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 23

I reached the door and swung it open slowly. Samrat was there, right on time. I gave him a thumbs up sign for his punctuality and for his dressing sense. He was wearing a sober shirt with trousers and some neat looking shoes. He absolutely looked like the kind of guy who parents want to see their daughters with.
He smiled at me nervously. “So? Is she ready?”
I offered him a sympathetic smile, “So is my family.”  I invited him in and laughed as he hesitantly stepped inside.
My mum was all smiles when she saw him, why wouldn’t she. He looked great, he spoke well, seemed well mannered, not to mention well off.
My dad on the other hand, scowled at him. My mum nudged him a little and finally my dad relented. 
He put out his hand formally, “Samrat?”
The visual change in Samrat’s posture was actually quite comical. He sucked in his stomach, straightened his shoulders and wiped his hands against his trousers before shaking hands with my father, “Yes sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you sir.”
Well, clearly he was nervous.
My dad shook his hand and gave him a long hard look as though trying to scare him away. My mum interrupted them, “Hello Samrat, it’s very nice to finally meet you.” She smiled at him warmly, instantly putting him at ease.
“Is Sonam ready?” Despite my mum’s warm smile, it was obvious that Samrat was ready to leave.
“I’m ready, I’m ready!”  Sona came out running, almost tripping in her heels. In that moment, I thought Sona looked just incredible. Her cheeks were stained pink, her eyes bright and luminous, her smile so genuine and heartfelt.
She grabbed Samrat’s hand and raced out of the house before my dad could quiz them further.
“11!! I want you home by 11!!” My dad called out behind them. “And Sona?”
She stopped by the door and glanced at him, wide eyed. “Yes dad?”
He sighed reluctantly, “Have a good time.”
Sona rushed to my dad and gave him a little peck on his cheek and then ran towards the door.

We stood around the room till the door slammed shut. I looked around the room, my mum seemed happy, she was singing this little tune as she made her way into the kitchen. My dad stood there, a sad little expression on his face.
“What’s wrong daddy?” I asked, putting on my cutesy voice which was only reserved for my dad.
He ruffled my hair gently and smiled a little, “Don’t you be in a hurry to grow up!”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 22

I stood outside the room, pacing impatiently as Sona got dressed. This was the thing, no matter whether we respected each other’s fashion sense, we always always needed the other person’s approval.
“So? How do I look?” Sona stepped out of the room and did a little twirl for me. I considered her carefully, “The shoes don’t go?” I suggested.
She glanced at her feet, “Really? Of course they do! You don’t know anything!” She said going back into the room. I shrugged indifferently and settled down on couch, my feet curled under me.
She came out after a little while, with her hair and make up done. She had changed her shoes. I tried to hide the smile on my face as she appeared.
“Not a word.” She threatened but the twinkle in her eye told me she wasn’t serious.
“So, I have one doubt.” I interjected as Sona admired herself in the mirror.
She looked at me with a questioning look and then turned towards the mirror. I took it as my cue, “What are you going to tell ma?” I asked the question which had been plaguing me.
She smiled at me, “The truth of course.”
“Which is?!?!?”
“That Samrat asked me out..” She said casually, as though it was no big deal.
I stared at her blankly, “So you hate him indiscriminately for the longest time ever and then suddenly you are dating?”
She laughed, “Oh well, can’t argue with that.” She smiled at my confused expression, “Don’t worry your little head with such things.”
Before I could argue about the size of my brain and such, dad walked in. He eyed Sona carefully, “Going somewhere?”
I heard Sona breathe in deeply as she turned around to face my dad.
“Ma! Samrat and I are going out!” She declared passionately.
My dad, I must hand it to him, appeared very calm, “Out where?”
“What?” A little confusion was apparent on Sona’s face.
“Where are you going?” my dad asked slowly.
It dawned on me, that maybe dad wasn’t familiar with the lingo “going out.” I tried to butt in, but Sona admonished me with a strict glance.
“Dad, Samrat and I are going out “going out”. Get it?” Sona asked, stressing on the last two words.
“Dad, they’re kind of dating.” I interrupted.
“Oh. Why?” My dad had turned towards my sister.
“Why?” Sona asked visibly confused. “Because we like each other..” Sona said, in an oh-isn’t-it-obvious tone.
My dad made a pained face, “No, I get that, I mean why now? You’re so young! Does your mother know you’re going out with boys?”
Sona burst into peals of laughter, “You’re so cute daddy!”
My dad raised one eyebrow to indicate he wasn’t amused. My mum walked out of the room, “What’s all the commotion?” She asked.
“Did you know your daughter is “going out”?” Dad asked mum, stressing on the going out bit.
“Of course, you look very nice Sona.” She said, brushing a stray strand off Sona’s face which Sona had so deliberately styled.
“No no, she’s not going out. She’s going out get it?” He explained to my mum.
My mum gave my dad the evil eye, “I KNOW!”
“You know?!!?! And you’re letting her? But she’s so young!” My dad stuttered a little.
I watched the whole scene in amazement. I would have thought that mum would blow a gasket and dad would be calming her down. But there she was, my mum patted my dad’s affectionately saying, “She’s 20, an adult. I think she can take care of herself.”
I couldn’t resist, “I’m 17, I can take care of myself too!!”
Odd, I didn’t get the positive reaction I was hoping. In fact, I think I ended up freaking my mum out. “Why? Is there someone?” My asked, forcing a smile on her face but I could tell she was really hoping otherwise.
“Not yet, but you never know. Why does she get to go and I don’t!” I argued.
“You’re younger! 3 more years!” My mum answered. It was her fixed answer for all such queries of mine.
“But you should move with the times!” I said, thinking I was making a very good point.
“What?” Sona had stopped dressing, hair brush in the air and all, “No, not fair! She should wait till she’s twenty too! It’s not fair! She always gets everything that I have to wait for!”
I glared at Sona. “This isn’t about you! Stay out of it!”
“Stop it! Both of you!” My mum physically intervened. “Pinku, we’ll see about you when you have a boy in your life. Sona, get going, I want you home before 11. Okay?”

The doorbell rang, one glance at Sona’s face told me Samrat had arrived.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 21

The sad thing about rumors in college was that you had no idea where it originated and how fast it was spreading. I had assumed, a little nobody like me wouldn’t generate much buzz but I was surprised by the number of heads turning as I walked around the campus.
Of course, I had found it incredibly funny at first. Who could be stupid enough to believe something liked that?
Neeta turned out to be one of them. Her face was flushed with excitement as she came and sat next to me, “You bitch!” she exclaimed, punching me lightly.
“Ouch!” I said, rubbing the affected region with exaggeration, “What was that for?!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked indignantly.
I stared at her, confused. “Tell you what?”
“About Samrat!?!” Neeta threw up her hands, exasperated.
“Oh, what’s the big deal? He just wanted to know how to woo Sona.” I scoffed a little as I remembered his earnest expression.
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Neeta lowered her arms and glanced at me suspiciously, “Aren’t you and Samrat together?”
“What?! What rubbish is that!” I rolled my eyes exasperated, “Really Neeta, why would say that?”
“Ummm, because everybody is talking about it??” She explained.
“Everybody is not stupid like you!” I shook my head. Neeta would believe anything.
She laughed at my reaction, “Oh you na├»ve little thing.” She commented as I picked up my bag and followed her. It was then I saw the heads turning. Consciously I touched my face and hair, was something out of place?
“Now do believe me?” Neeta laughed as she saw my shell shocked expression.
“Do you think Sona believes it too??” I asked Neeta incredulously. Surely, Sona would know it was all some horrible misunderstanding.
Neeta raised a brow thoughtfully. “For your sake, I hope she doesn’t.”
I shut my eyes tightly. What a mess!

Back at home, Sona had reached before me and was sitting at the table with a novel in her arms. I stood a safe distance away from her, wondering whether I should bring up the topic. I cleared my throat trying to attract her attention. She glanced at me with a bored expression on her face and then looked back at her book.
 “Sona?” I asked hesitantly.
“What?” She asked flipping a page.
“Did you hear something today?” I asked casually as I sat down on the chair next to her.
She moved the book a couple inches lower and stared at me with a bemused expression on her face. “What about?”
“Oh nothing!” I said a little too quickly. If she hadn’t heard about it, I didn’t think it would be smart on my part to bring it up. I got up and started walking towards my, oops, our room when Sona stopped me.
“You mean about Samrat?” There was a little twinkle in her eyes and I knew instantly she wasn’t mad at me.
“You’re not mad?” I asked, relief apparent on my face.
 She ruffled my hair fondly, something she hadn’t done in ages. “You’re my little sister, I have to accept you’ll do stupid thing and forgive you.”
I laughed and for a brief moment, contemplated giving her a hug. We weren’t regular sisters who were close to each other, hugging was something we didn’t do very often. Finally, I gave up and put an awkward arm around her. For the longest time, I thought she had frozen still and then I felt her body relax and her hand around my shoulder.

“Oh! My! God!” my mum, who had just walked in, exclaimed. Sona and I separated pretty quickly. My mum however was all touched by the sisterly bonding she had just witnessed. “I should have thought about the room thing years earlier.”

I smirked a little. Sona and I knew it had nothing to do with the room. Maybe we had just grown up a little?

Monday, September 26, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 20

The next day, mum did seem a little surprised by our behavior. She eyed us carefully as we went about our merry ways, laughing. I suspect that she thought we were trying to trick her into letting us move back into separate rooms. Honestly, I won’t deny that the idea hadn’t occurred to us, but for once, Sona and I were content to be civil, even friendly with each other.
For mum and dad, it must have seemed like the lull before the storm. They watched astounded, as I gleefully picked out Sona’s new t-shirt and cut off the price tag.
Sona wasn’t particularly delighted, but hey, I was going to let her cut my DRESS. I was just cutting the price tag.
To tell you the truth, I was slightly worried about what Sona had been talking to mum about. Had she really told mum that she was going on a date? Was my mom really that cool? Or was all that lecture-baazi only reserved for me. I contemplated asking Sona or even mum about it. But then I thought I’ll save that argument till I actually had a boy around.

Neeta and I had settled into our little routine by now. And she wasn’t half bad actually. Once I got past the whole, ooh she’s so pretty phase, I found her to be ridiculously funny, genuinely nice and abnormally normal.
I wouldn’t say we were best of friends yet, but we were certainly getting there.
College was abuzz with activity when we reached. You could tell that whatever music the seniors had to face for the fresher’s party had passed. They were all over the campus, high-fiving each other and laughing loudly.
I spotted Sona in midst of the crowd, her face scrunched up in concentration as she flipped through the book she held in her lap. I had to smile, she looked blissfully unaware of all the mayhem around her. But then, Sona was like that. Give her a book, and she could lose herself in a crowd. After a while, I saw Sona crinkle her nose and glance sideways. I followed her gaze. What I saw made me smile. Samrat.
This whole little act that my sister had put up was for Samrat. I know nobody else could tell, but that distinctive nose-crinkling act had been a dead giveaway. I had seen Sona do it a million times before whenever she was craving attention. Samrat on his part, was gazing at my sister subtly. Anyone not observing him would have missed him turning ever so lightly to smile at her. My sister, responded with a cheeky smile and then hid her face behind the book.
I nudged Neeta, was I the only one who witnessed that? I Sona get up slowly and walk towards Samrat slowly. She was surrounded by her friends and she tried hard to keep her eyes aimed at her feet as she crossed him. But she did brush a hand through her hair, pushing it back, a indecipherable smile on her face. If I was taken in by her, you can only imagine poor Samrat, who seemed mesmerized.
I saw him shake his head and grin widely.
It suddenly struck me that most probably; I was responsible for this display of affection. Had I not tried to save my skin back then, Sona and Samrat would still be at loggerheads. So you see, my selfish act turned out to be not too selfish after all.
Feeling quite pleased with myself I nodded at Samrat who had spotted me in the crowd. Oddly enough, the smile disappeared from his face as he made his way towards me. I shrank away from him and tried to mix with the crowd milling around the stairs, trying to get to class.
I would have assumed that Samrat would be pleased with what had happened, even if I had tried to play a trick on him. The end result was all that matter didn’t it?
“Going somewhere?” Samrat was standing right in front of me.
I glanced around, hoping that he was addressing someone else. No such luck. I looked up at him reluctantly, “Class. I have class.”
“You still have five minutes.” He stood imposingly between me and the stairs. “You can go though.” He told Neeta who glanced at me fleetingly before she made her escape. She was most definitely going off my best friends forever list!!
Samrat waited till the crowd had thinned before he led me by the elbow to a corner.
“So you thought it was pretty funny huh?” He asked, keeping both eyes fixed on me.
“What? No! I don’t know what you’re saying! Sona lied!” I sensed that the words pouring out of my mouth weren’t making much sense, but I was in no position to use my grey cells.
Relief flooded through me as Samrat started laughing at my senseless banter. “Relax, I’m not mad at you.”
“Oh!” I shut up instantly, “Then what’s with the ‘let’s scare the little girl’ act?” I asked indignantly.
“Did I scare you? I’m sorry. I just wanted to ask you something.” He said leaning casually against the wall. I saw some people stare at us as they walked by. I could almost imagine what they were thinking. Either I was being ragged or being hit on.
“Like what?” I eyed him suspiciously. I was wondering why my sister had hated Samrat for so long. He seemed perfectly nice to me. What had he done to piss her off so much?
Samrat lowered his voice and leaned in a little closer as though he was about t o tell me a secret.“I was just wondering if there was any particular cuisine Sona likes. We’re just going out for dinner this weekend and I was just.. you know..” he stopped abruptly as I burst out laughing and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Just make it a little up market and you’ll be fine.” I said, remembering what Sona was planning to wear.
I walked passed him when I remembered another critical point, “And don’t be late!” I advised as I turned around the corner.
“I won’t.” He flashed me a smile and I responded in kind feeling very pleased with my cupid act.

Sadly for me, all my good intentions went down the drain as rumors started doing rounds that I was dating Samrat!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 19

I had a big smile plastered on my face when Sona walked in. Sona didn’t disappoint. She glanced around the room, saw the goodnight  and the sheets folded and turned towards me disbelief written all over her face.
“What do you want Pinkoo?” She asked suspiciously.
“Nothing!” I denied vehemently while my mind calculated furiously whether there was something that I wanted from her.
She peered at my face, “Are you sure?”
I nodded, “Uh huh.”
“That’s too bad, I was feeling a little generous.” She remarked off-handedly as she started getting into bed.
Generous? Golden opportunity! I glanced at her wardrobe, Sona always had some nice stuff in it. Maybe I could borrow something for tomorrow? I just couldn’t get myself to pass on the offer!
“Ummm, there was one thing..” I said hesitantly.
Sona sat up in her bed, “Which is?”
“Something to wear tomorrow?” I shrugged.
I saw her frown a little, “What’s tomorrow?” She asked.
“Nothing.” I declared unceremoniously.
“Then?” she asked curiously.
“You’re feeling generous. I need to take advantage of that.” I smiled at her.
Despite herself she laughed, “Fine, lets put it on the tab okay? Next time you want something, you can use today’s generous feeling.”
Now it was my turn to be suspicious, “Why are you being so nice?”
“I’m just returning the favor.” She said gesturing towards the goodnight and sheets.
“Hmmm..” I considered that as I got into bed. All this niceness in the air was kind of alien for me. I shut my eyes tightly. Hopefully, tomorrow we would be back to normal.
“Pinkoo..” Sona shook me a little. I opened one eye and looked at her. “What?”
“You remember that pink color dress you have?” She asked casually.
I racked my brains, which one was she talking about now?
“The one with the white belt. Remember?” She continued to poke me.
I sighed deeply, “What about it?”
She cleared her throat,“Is it okay if I borrow it?”
So that was it! I took my own sweet time. For the first time EVER, Sona wanted something of mine! Did that mean my tastes in clothing had improved?? Was I really, becoming cool???
“Okay.” I said reluctantly. I kept taking stuff from her, it was only fair that she could take some of mine.
“I want to cut off some part of it too..” I heard Sona say.
I got up in a flash. “What! Why? No way! I love that dress!”
“B..but.. but.. the belt looks so tacky!” Sona said making a puppy face.
“What?!  It looks hot! You have terrible taste!” Cut my dress! No way! I mean! It wasn’t like she was cutting my dress, it was just the belt. But still! Hmmm, was there something in it for me?
“Please Pinkoo!” She pleaded.
I thought about it for a while, “Can I borrow your new clothes?” this was the acid test. Sona never let me touch her new things. Especially the ones she hadn’t even worn once.
“What?! No way! What’s wrong with you?”  She turned away in a huff.
“Oh,” I said mildly disappointed, “You are going to CUT my dress.” I said, emphasising on the “cut”, hoping to make her feel guilty.
She turned around. “Fine. Just this once.”

I have to say, I was kind of taken aback with this sudden desperation to agree to my terms and conditions. I had to ask.
“What’s the dress for?” I said switching off the lights.
Even though there was darkness all around us and Sona had her back to me, I could tell she had a small smile on her face as she said ,“I have a date with Samrat.” 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 18

As you can imagine, I wasn’t too excited about sharing a room with Sona, especially with her in such a mood. But there was no work around, mum just wouldn’t budge.
“It’s either this room or the balcony, take your pick!” She had told me when I had tried to discuss the serious implications of leaving me in Sona’s room for the night.
Dinner was a quiet affair, nobody spoke much. The unsaid tension between Sona and I was killing all the attempts my poor dad was making to liven up the conversation.
Finally he gave up, “I’m going to watch TV.” He declared as he picked up his plate and marched into the living room. I followed silently. I never really understood why we had the “no-tv-while-eating” rule.
Sona and mum stayed put. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have stayed back and eavesdropped. If Sona told mum what had actually happened, I would get double the punishment doled out for lying.
I gobbled up my food quickly. Not only would I interrupt Sona and mum’s conversation, I would also have an opportunity to implement the Goodnight-sheet-folding law.
You see, this was not the first time Sona and I had to share a room. Everytime a relative came over, I was unceremoniously kicked out of my room into Sona’s and for a couple of days, we managed. We formed a number of little rules which helped us to live together without killing each other in the constricted space. One of them involved etching our names on the furniture so that we didn’t confuse which side of the bed was whose. Of course, mum wasn’t too happy about it.
Another one was the goodnight-sheet-folding law. As per the rules, the first person who came in to the room at night, only had to put on the goodnight and toss the bedsheet onto the other person’s bed and the other person had to do the actual job of folding the extra long bed sheet. Don’t ask me why the rule existed, it just did and both Sona and I followed it religiously and it was a BIG deal!
I dashed into the dining room and found Sona and mum deep in conversation. Mum glanced at me and even though she didn’t look like she was angry, she waved with her hand, a little shoo,go away kinds.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t about me. And honestly, Sona did look a little sad. Boy! I hoped it wasn’t because of me. I just wanted to fool around a little and I had gone and got her into trouble. I made my way to the room and hid behind the curtains trying to listen in on the conversation but I couldn’t hear much just some bits and pieces,
Sona: “Just horrid..”
Mum: “Don’t worry.. I’m..nothing.. happens..”
Sona:”Everytime.. Samrat.. Glass..”
 As soon as I heard “glass”I realised it was time for a confession! I snuck out of my hiding place and walked over to the table, my head hanging in shame.
“Ma, Sona didn’t throw the glass thing at me, it was an accident. ” I blurted out quickly before Sona could finish her version and make my confession seem like stale news.
“What????” My mum turned towards me, shocked.
It took a while for the tubelight in my head to go on,“You guys weren’t talking about that were you?”
A small smile had touched Sona’s face as she realised I had just committed a foot-in-the-mouth blunder. “No,” She said slowly, smirking at my misery.
“Pinkoo!” My mom admonsihed, “ You should be ashamed of yourself! Letting your sister take the blame!” I gulped, the impending lecture was bound to end in a punishment. I stole a pleading glance at Sona.
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. Ok fine!  She said in a weird eye contact language that I guess siblings tend to make over the years.
 “Let her be ma, she’s an idiot.” She said to my mum.
My mum considered that, “Yes,” She said slowly, “That she is.”
I turned towards my mum, surprised. Hey! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being called an idiot, if there’s something in it from me.

I felt my sister push me a little, “Now scram before she changes her mind.” She whispered.
I didn’t have to be told twice. I made my escape quietly and swiftly feeling quite happy. My big sister had saved me from getting into trouble. I felt like doing something nice for her.
You guessed right. The little angel I was, I put on the goodnight AND folded the sheets!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 17

I tiptoed inside. Sona was sitting on the bed, with her back towards me.
“Let’s get one thing straight.” She started, “This here is my side of the bed and room. I don’t want any of your stuff in my territory. Get it??” She drew an imaginary line with her hand straight down the middle of the room.
I nodded, half a room was much better than what I had expected.
“Now get out..” she ordered.
“What?! Why?” I protested.
“I need to practice, I can’t do that with someone watching. Out!” She said plugging her guitar into the amplifier.
I didn’t think it would be wise of me to fight for staying there. Sona was good with the guitar, but after a few minutes my head started spinning with all the heavy metal guitaring she used to churn out.
I started to walk out of the room when Sona spoke to me again. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten what you did.” She warned me.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Maybe I could set it right, like, right now.
“Ummm Sona?” I stepped towards her side of the room gingerly.
She saw me moving towards her but made no attempt to take off her headphones, but as my foot crossed over the imaginary divider, she exclaimed, “Hey! What do you think you are doing?”
“Sorry..” I muttered, scrunching up my face.
She took off her headphones and regarded me for the longest time, “Go on..”
I cleared my throat, “I’m sorry about the whole Samrat episode.”
She put aside her guitar and glared at me, “Okay, so what were you trying to do there?”
I ran a nervous hand through my hair, “I don’t know, I was just trying to get out of a tricky situation.”
Sona stood up suddenly, forcing me to back into a corner. “How dare you! Do you know what you did? I should kill you for this!”
“Sona I’m sorry!” I said raising my arm while leaning backwards on the table behind me, anticipating a physical fight.
Unfortunately for me, I lost my balance and went crashing down, grabbing whatever I could to stop my fall. Of all the ruddy things I could grab, my hand hit a glass painting Sona had made. For a moment, I was afraid that it would fall on me. But after seeing the look on Sona’s face after the crash, I found myself wishing that it had!
“Mom!!!” Sona screamed loudly, “She’s already breaking my stuff!” She turned to face me, “I want you out of here, get it?”
Big tears rolled down my eyes as my mum walked in and inspected the sight. She saw me lying on the floor with the glass shattered around me and completely misinterpreted the situation.
“Sona!” My mom exclaimed, aghast. “Are you crazy! She could have been hurt!” My mum rushed to my side. “Are you alright Pinku?”
“Ma, this is all her fault!” Sona stood at the door, refusing to help me.
“That’s it Sona! You’re grounded for a month! No phone calls, no outings. Get it?” My mum said furiously.
“But I didn’t even touch her!” Sona protested.
“I don’t care. I don’t care what happened here, but this is not acceptable. Throwing things at each other? That too glass? U-N-A-C-C-E-P-T-A-B-L-E!!” My mum helped me out of the room.
I know I should have said something, but I wasn’t in the mood to be nice to Sona. She had been particularly nasty to me today. As though it was my fault that we had to share a room! I mean, I knew it was, but it wasn’t intentional.
 In fact, if I may admit it, it felt rather good getting her into trouble. Of course, I wasn’t going to let her be punished for a month, I’m not that evil. Maybe just for a week or two.
“Tell her!” Sona screamed at me as my mum lead me out.
“Sona! Stop harassing your sister! In fact I want you to apologize to her!” My mum pushed me in front of Sona and stood behind us, her arms crossed.
Okay, now mum was overdoing it! I saw the murderous look in Sona’s eyes and retreated immediately, “It wasn’t her fault ma!”
My mum shook her head, “You could learn something from Pinku Sona, she’s still trying to protect you!”
That was the worst thing my mom could have ever said!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 16

Sona kind of erupted into a violent stream of abuses, most of them directed at me. How I had ruined her life and such other stuff. Her wrath soon turned towards my mum, but that didn’t last too long. One glance at my mom’s disapproving face and her angry charge changed into a desperate plea.
“You can’t be serious!”  She said throwing my stuff out.
“Hey!” I protested mildly. I could see this was going to blow up sky high, and I didn’t want to be in the line of fire. I made my voice heard and started picking up my things quietly.
“Ma! Come on! Anything but this!” Sona protested, hurling my clothes at me.
My mum watched in amusement as I scampered around grabbing my clothes.          
“The more you protest, the longer the punishment lasts.” My mum said, effectively stopping Sona in her tracks.
I could see Sona mentally compute the pros and cons of sustaining the fight.
“For how long?” Sona asked suspiciously, temporarily suspending her chucking activities.
My mum shrugged, “A month, two maybe. I haven’t really decided. But, it’s going to last till both of you start behaving like sisters.”
“What!?” I exclaimed despite myself. “That’s never going to happen!” I could see my future college life go down the drain. No sleepovers, no late night phone conversations, no late night texting! And I think I could safely cross out sneaking out at nights.
“Well, then you’re going to share a room forever.” My mum said simply.
“This isn’t fair! Dad!!!!” My sister stormed into my parent’s room.  I shook my head, that road was going to lead nowhere.
And I was right. Five minutes later, Sona walked out, shoulders slumped. “I hate you!” She screamed at me as she walked into what was now going to be our room and slammed the door shut.
“I hate you too!!” I yelled back.
I saw my mum cross her arms and shake her head negatively. Most probably our little stunt here had just convinced my mum that the punishment that she had doled out for us was justified.
To salvage a rapidly crumbling situation I screamed out, “But you’re still my sister so I love you!” I turned around and but on my best fake smile.
My mum smiled back, “Not enough sweetie,” She said ruffling my hair, “Not nearly enough.”

I sighed deeply and picked up my meager belongings which had been unceremoniously dumped outside. I gulped, opened the door and walked inside.
I had just entered the lion’s den.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 15

Sona and I were on our best behavior the next day. We got up on time, for once we did not fight over who got the bathroom first and cleared up our respective rooms before we stepped out of the house. In our heads, one night of misbehavior could be cancelled out with one morning of a good one. But I was starting to believe it wasn’t the same for mum.
Speaking of mum, she was oddly indifferent to the change in our demeanor which only helped in freaking us out more. Sona and I made an unspoken pact. Until this matter brew over, we would look out for each other. That’s what sisters did right? Save each from their mother’s wrath.
This was actually quite tricky for me this time. Because I knew Sona was mad at me. And she wasn’t above playing tricks on me, despite our desperate situation. Who knew, under the pretext of saving me, she’d make me do something stupid. The last time Sona and I made such a pact, somehow I had got conned into doing all her chores.
Needless to say, I was on my guard.
Back in college, Neeta and I were greeted by some rather good news. Apparently, some other freshers had also come up with the master plan of sneaking out of their houses without informing their parents. But unlike my folks, some parents had picked up the phone and called one of his relatives who was a big shot police officer. Within an hour, cops broke up the party and sent everybody home. All the seniors too got in a whole lot of trouble. I guess the college authority thought there was some kind of mass ragging session happening.
Anyway, I was just glad that Sona had turned up and forced us to leave.  I’m sure we missed a bucket load of trouble.
For a change the seniors vs freshers ratio on the ground was better than the usual 10:1. So, all in all, college was relatively quiet. The anticipation of what was going to happen to me once I was back home, however was just too much to bear.
I reached home before Sona. I couldn’t bear the suspense anymore. Whatever it was that mom was scheming, I’d rather get it over with.. Soon!
My mum just smiled at me as I walked inside. Maybe she had decided to forgive us? After all, we were young and stupid and obviously, obviously we were going to do silly things. She could let this one go by, right?
A little hope surfaced. My mum’s demeanor was way too calm for it to be normal, I should have picked that up. But hope is a cruel emotion, it blinds all rationality. I dropped my guard and smiled back at her.
“College was sooo uneventful today.” I commented, breaking the ice.
“Uh huh..” mum acknowledged as she continued with her chores.
So, how was your day?” I asked, encouraged by the lack of interest my mum was showing.
“Uneventful.. ” my mum commented indifferently.

I shrugged and made my way to my room. I opened the door and instantly a scream escaped my lips.
“Maaaa! Where is my stuff!!! I’ve been robbed.” I scampered out of the room, panic striken. From another corner of my house, I heard Sona scream, “What is all this junk doing in my room!!! Get it out!!! Pinku!! Get your trash out of my room!”

Oh no! she couldn’t have! She wouldn’t have! She shouldn’t have!
I stepped out slowly and faced my mom. The smirk on my mum’s face said it all.. That was our punishment. Sharing a room.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 14

Sona had come on her bike.
“Ummm.. Sona, there are three of us.” I pointed out intelligently.
She ignored me as she put on her helmet. Behind me, Neeta cleared her throat and voiced my concerns, “Ummm, how are we going to go back?”
Sona glared at both of us, “Sit!” She ordered.
“Both of us???” I asked incredulously.
“I don’t have time for this.” Sona started her bike and started to ride away. I didn’t react, I knew Sona wouldn’t leave me and go. Unfortunately, Neeta did not share my confidence. She ran after Sona.. “Stop! Stop! I’m coming too!”
“Neeta!” I didn’t have the guts to disobey Sona alone. After much hesitation I cried, “I’m coming too.”
I tried to make our exit as inconspicuous as possible. I hadn’t dressed up classily to travel “tripps” on a bike. Thinking quick on my feet, I decided to let Neeta sit in the middle, so that I could have some distance from Sona. Of couse, after a while I began to question the smartness of my decision.
Sona made sure that she went over every pothole and every speed breaker. I was beginning to lose sensation in most of my body parts, maybe death would be less painful.
Even after we dropped off Neeta, I preferred to sit scrunched up at the far end of the bike. All I had to do was run back upstairs when Sona stopped and lock myself in my room. I would be safe until morning. Then mom would be around to save my ass. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan.

I prepared myself to jump off the bike as soon as Sona reached the basement. I took a deep breath as we approached the parking area and at the most opportune moment, jumped of the bike. It sort of felt like I had twisted my ankle, but I couldn’t stop now. Sona was already hurling abuses at me. I ran, as fast as my little legs could carry me. I turned around as I reached the house door and made a victory sign with my fingers. It was all over.. At least till tomorrow.
I pushed the door open and all my bravado went down the drain. Mum and dad were waiting in the living room and mum! Boy oh boy! She looked positively livid.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Sona came in behind me, almost crashing into me.
“You!” She started to scream at me when she realized we both weren’t the only ones in the room. She turned around slowly and gasped as she saw mum and dad, “Oh boy!” she muttered.

As it turned out, Sona too had sneaked out of the house. Dad had woken up in the middle of the night and found the main door opened and both his daughters missing. Panic had followed and dad had been close to calling the cops when mum had remembered the fresher’s party.
Sona and I got a lecture spanning two hours from how we had crossed all boundaries this time to how ungrateful we were to how we both were doing miserably in our academics. One thing I had learnt in my 17 years of life was that a mother’s lecture, knew no bounds. It could span any incident, any topic at any time.

After some time Sona and I stopped listening, while my mum kept screaming. My dad, just happy to see both daughters home safely had gone back to bed.
Sona interrupted my mum’s non stop barrage, “Can I just say something? This is all her fault!” Sona pointed at me accusingly..
“Me?!” I put on my innocent face, complete with the big eyes.
“You lied! About going! About some stupid message! How dare you?!” Sona had turned towards me and was spewing anger.
“I wouldn’t have to if you were even a little bit normal!” I retorted.
“Stop it! Stop it! I’ll do the screaming around here!” my mum interjected. “What kind of sisters are you? You are supposed to lookout for each other! Shame on you both!”
I scowled and looked away. I just wanted this night to get over.
Suddenly, a little smile appeared on my mum’s room. I really didn’t like the look of it. it was sinister in a way. I think it meant that she had thought of a punishment.
“Go to your room.” She ordered calmly, still smiling to herself. “Don’t think this discussion is over. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Sona and I glanced at each other. The calm before the storm?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 13

I knew better than to ask. I grabbed Neeta’s hand and ducked into the nearest corner. What the heck was going on? Samrat with Sona?? Who would have ever thought! Was this my doing?
Hmmm, maybe I could play cupid here?
“What is all that about?” Neeta asked, her eyes following Samrat and Sona.
“I think they are on some kind of date..” I commented in amazement.
Turns out, we weren’t the only one watching this turn of events with great anticipation. More than half the crowd had stopped talking. All eyes were silently following Samrat and Sona. I wish I could say that they were so into each other that they were unaware of this but it was just painfully obvious that they were uncomfortable with all the scrutiny.
One thing that caught my eye, but would have missed the others’ was that Sona was wearing the same pair of shoes I had told her Samrat liked. It seemed like a classic case of –I-hated-you-so-much-because-I-actually-like-you.
I think eventually Sona got weary of all the speculation. She started walking away from Samrat towards the exit. Samrat waited for a moment before he followed her.
“We’ve to go!” Neeta whispered in my ear.
“No wait, this is getting interesting!” I shushed her and turned around.
“No no! Sona will kill us!” Neeta tugged at my arm and started slinking away.
I was getting exasperated, “Fine! Go!” I said, a little too loudly in the heat of the moment.
“Pinkoo, is that you?” Sona had heard me. I came out of my hiding place acting casual as though hiding in corners was the most natural thing to do.
“Oh hey Sona, I didn’t know you were coming..” I said, acting surprised to see her.
“I’m going to kill you!!” She said glancing at the crowd, some of whom had stopped staring at her. “Come on, let’s go.” She grabbed my hand and looked around. “Where’s your side kick?” She asked, referring to Neeta, I think.
“Sonam.. Hold on!” Samrat appeared. “Look, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what I said wrong, but I’m sorry!!” He seemed oblivious to my presence.
“I’m leaving.” Sona declared quietly. “Neeta?!” She called out, “We’re leaving, come on now.”
It was then that Samrat noticed my presence, “Your sister,” he said talking to me, “is a difficult person.”
I nodded in agreement as my sister caught hold of Neeta and marched out, calling my name.
“I got to go!” I declared and started slipping away.
“One last thing. Next time, ask your sister to keep her messages to herself.” I stopped in my tracks.
“Did you talk about that?” I asked, positively petrified.
He looked mystified at my confusion, “Of course!”

That’s it, I was dead.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 12

I faced the mirror slowly, dreading the artwork that Sona would have painted on my face. I glanced at myself. I didn’t look quite like me. And even though Sona hadn’t done anything garish, I still felt it was a little over the top.
I made a face at Sona, “Its too much!” I exclaimed.
“Oh what do you know? Trust me..” She repeated.
I kept staring at the mirror, making faces. Suddenly Sona grabbed a cotton ball and threw it towards me, “Fine! Take it all off and see if I care!”
I stared at her as she stormed out of my room to her room, slamming all the doors in her way. I wondered what I had done wrong. It wasn’t as though she would feel bad about what I said, would she?
Didn’t matter right now. I had more important things to think about.
There were a couple of people who were on chauffeuring duty today. They had offered to pick us up, something like a carpool. I sneaked out of my house and walked briskly towards the gate of the colony. It was 9 o clock and people had already stared thinning on the road.
I waited impatiently and in a couple of moments, Neeta joined me. Maybe I was a bad influence on her, the goody two shoes, but hey! At least she would have something to remember her college days by with, right?
“Oooooooo!” Neeta exclaimed, “Smoky eyes! Nice!”
“Really?” I asked, genuinely surprised.
“Oh yeah! Looks great!”She said, probably expecting me to compliment her as well.. But there was no point in complimenting someone who knew she looked incredible, was there?
For the longest time, no one came to pick us up. We were close to panic when some familiar folks in a loud car stopped next to us. The party had just begun!

I wish I could say I had a good time, but the fresher’s party turned out to be more of a seniors party. Hardly a bunch of us had shown up and all of sat cowering in the corner as loud seniors greeted each other, scarcely bothered with our presence.
“Let’s go back home?” I asked Neeta.
She nodded miserably. She had probably expected to be crowned some “Miss fresher” or something so I guess she was more disappointed than I was.  We made our way outside, wondering how we were to make our way back when Samrat appeared.
He was just making his entrance.

And surprise of surprises!
Holding on to his arm and looking very much like her non-gothic self was my sister!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 11

I didn’t hesitate for too long, a month was a pretty decent offer. I nodded, grabbed her clothes and rushed into my room, leaving Sona with the shoe.
After a while someone knocked on my door. I froze, if mum saw me dressed in Sona’s clothes, she would immediately guess that I was, indeed going out.
“Who is it?” I asked, squirming out of party clothes.
“Me dufus!” Sona voice reached me.
What did she want now?
I opened the door slowly and peered through the gap between the door and the wall.
“What are you wearing?” she asked pushing the door open and walking in.
“The blue top and dark jeans.” I pointed at the selected piece of clothing.
“Do you..” she cleared her throat, “Do you want shoes to go with that?”
I stared at her in amazement, what had gotten into her???
“Well! I don’t have whole day you know!” She said impatiently.
“Yeah, sure!” I said excitedly. She turned around and disappeared for a couple of minutes. When she came back, she had all her shoes in tow. She tossed a pair at me, “Try it!”
I made a face at her, I wanted something more.. you know.. “Sona..” I said tossing the shoe back, “I want something that says, ‘Effortlessly hot!’ get it?”
Sona threw her head back and laughed, “Yes! I have plenty of things which fall exactly in that category.”
I kind of liked this new Sona. As she handed me one pair after another, I smiled benevolently at her. I could get used to this!
“So..” Sona tried to start a conversation, “Who are we dressing up for huh?”
“Not anyone in particular. I just want to look nice you know..” I said, without suspecting the ulterior motives behind the question.
“Not even Samrat?” she asked casually dropping his name in the conversation.
“Chee no! He’s old!” I said, brushing my hair one last time. “So! How do I look?”
I did a dramatic little swirl for her. She observed me critically, “You need some last touches, wait here.”
She disappeared once again and reappeared with her vanity case.
“No no! Sona!” I knew then what Sona intended to do. Make up! I didn’t want to look like her! No offense, Sona is really pretty and stuff but I really didn’t get her whole gothic look.
“Trust me.” She said softly as she started brushing some nice smelling stuff on my face.
After twenty minutes she stood back and admired her handiwork, “Okay, you can take a look now..”

Monday, September 12, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 10

So that was how my first day went, as far as important updates go.
The next day we were informed of an informal fresher’s party which was being secretly organized by the seniors. We were asked to keep our mouths shut lest the faculty got wind of it. Needless to say, there was only one question in all the girls’ minds..
Neeta was least perturbed, she could afford to be complacent like that. She’d look good in a rag. Me on the other hand, I didn’t have anything to wear! As usual, I decided to sneak into my sister’s wardrobe and steal some stuff. Once upon a time, Sona used to be feminine to the hilt. Funny, I never bothered finding out what why she had drastically transformed her clothing habits. Anyway, every once in a while, when Sona wasn’t around, I used to try on her stuff, her make up and parade around in her heels. Somehow, her clothes always looked much more glamorous than the things I used to buy.
Of course, there was a possibility that Sona would come for the party but, knowing Sona and her anti- social tendencies, the probability of her actually showing up, looked pretty bleak.
One thing that wasn’t really clear was how I was going to get out the house without getting a deadline enforced on me. Knowing my parents, it would be set at ten o clock and my dad would chauffer me to and fro. Plus Sona knew! There was no way in hell that she would let me go to a party without completely ruining it for me. I don’t know, it just seemed like we took some kind of twisted pleasure in making life just a little bit difficult for each other.
So the plan was, tell everyone at home, I wasn’t going. Sneak out once everyone has gone to bed. Thankfully Sona and I had separate rooms. After years of sharing a room, I had rebelled and moved into the microscopic study, but hey, at least it was mine right?

I put my plan into action as soon as I got home. Sona was playing her guitar in her room and mum and I were sitting outside.
“There’s a fresher’s party today, but I don’t think I want to go.” In the back ground the strumming of the guitar stopped.
“Oh really?” my mum tried to add hint of casualness to it.
“Yeah, I think it’s going to be boring..” I said with an exaggerated accent.
My mum ruffled my hair lovingly, “Well, if you don’t want to go.”
My sister snuck her head out and scoffed loudly, “As if!”
“Stay out of it!” I screamed at her.
My mum threw up her hands in frustration! “Can’t you two ever get along?”
“If she stops interfering, maybe we would!” I said, passing a snide remark.
“I have no interest in your sad, pathetic life! I’m out of here!” my sister declared as she walked out of the house.

I waited for a reasonable amount of time before I entered her room. I was forbidden from entering her room, which made it all the more enchanting for me.
There it was, her collection of clothes and shoes. For someone like me, it was no less than a treasure trove! I worked swiftly and deftly, segregating “maybe I’ll wears” and “absolutely nots”.
I was looking under her bed for a pair of shoes when I heard Sona clear her throat loudly.
“May I ask what you are doing in my room?” She asked, tapping her foot menancingly.
“I.. was.. just.. here.. to..” I paused, trying to think up of a plausible excuse.
Sona eyed the pile of clothes I had dumped on her bed, “You little liar! You are going to that damn party! Maaa!!” She half stepped out of my room and called my mum.
“Sona please!! It’s my fresher’s party! I have to go!” I begged.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!” my sister shrieked again.
“I have a message from Samrat!” I blurted out, in an effort to divert her attention.
My mum screamed from her room, “What?! What is it?”
Sona hesitated, “What message?”
I shook my head, “You don’t tell ma!”
“Sona?” my mum called again, “What happened?”
“Nothing..” Sona shut the door behind her, “Now what’s all this about?”
I picked up the shoe, for which I had crawled under the bed and held it out.
“And what should I so with it?” Sona asked, arching her brows.
I shrugged, “Samrat asked me to tell you he likes these shoes.” I cringed at the lameness at my excuse. No way in hell would she buy that!
She put up her hands, “What should I do with that piece of information?”
“How should I know, I’m just the lowly messenger..” I parroted the dialog I had used on Samrat earlier.
Sona took the shoe from me slowly and turned it around as though she was looking at it for the first time and then as she suddenly became aware of my presence, “Get out of my room!”
“Fine!” I was relieved, that was a close shave! I stopped as I got to the door, “Sona?” I asked.
“Hmmm?” she was still holding the shoe, a little color had appeared on her cheeks.
“Can I take that?” I said pointing to the clothes pile.“ I don’t have anything to wear! Pleeeeeease! I’ll do anything!” I begged.
She thought for a while, “Do my laundry for a month.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 9

Hours later, I would laugh at the situation, but in moment, I failed to see the humor. I kept glaring at my father who seemed to be oblivious to me.  When his food arrived, a grin appeared on his face.
I had to laugh! He’d ordered a thali and got exactly what he had wanted to eat. The dal, sabzi etc.  complete with the dessert.
Of course, I kept a close eye on the bill and we seemed to have just about enough. Ninety bucks for the food and ten bucks for the tip.
Forgot about VAT.. Oh well, no tip!

Dad and I walked back home slowly.
“So how was it?” My dad asked awkwardly.
“What?” I asked surprised.
“College, first day?” He asked, glancing at me with a look that said what else could it be!
“Oh. It was okay.” I replied.
That was the thing with my dad, he never wanted the details. A simple, good, bad, okay would suffice.
He nodded slowly. A long silence followed, “Aur? What else is going on?”
“Oh nothing much. This and that.” I replied, wondering what was going on. Dad and I didn’t generally have long chats. All lecturing business was mom’s forte.
He nodded again, “Good good. And what are you reading now?”
“Some novel..” I said, getting mildly annoyed now, hoping we reached quickly.
Secretly, I had always thought that dad felt a little left out when Sona and I ran to mom with all our problems. I don’t know why we did that, maybe it was just a girl thing. I think dad realised how futile it was getting me to talk, so he gave up all effort and we walked the rest of the way in silence.
Once home, we put on the television. Seriously, I cannot imagine what families did before television was invented. What did they talk about?
After a while my mum and sister came in, laughing.
“Did you eat?” My mum came over and asked me.
“Where were you people!?” Sona questioned. I didn’t say anything. Looking at my sullen face my mum turned towards my dad, “What did you do?”
My dad laughed, “It was funny actually, wasn’t it Pinku?” he nudged me a little. I made a face at him and moved an inch. I was still mad at him!
“We didn’t find that stupid Hwang ho! And your husband only had hundred bucks on him!” I complained to my mum.
“Hwang ho????” My mum asked, “Isn’t that the name of that chinese river?”
“Ummmm.. the name of the restaurant also?” I offered sarcastically.
My mum raised her eyebrow for a moment and then both Sona and mum started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, confused.
Sona, in midst of her laughter spree managed to utter, “The restaurant was called Chung Wah!”

Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. Anyway, I learnt two important lessons that way.
1.       Never trust daddy with names
2.       Always check the amount of money dad is carrying.
Of course, I got lax one day and forgot about lesson number 2, but I’ll save that for now.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 8

My mum had this thing about her. She loved to ask questions. As a student, I’m sure she would have been a teacher’s pet. When I was in school, I used to be on the phone all the time. To get some privacy, I would pick up the cordless and go into my room and start pacing up and down while talking. And sometimes, due to lack of space, that involved walking all over the bed. Anyway, my mum completely encouraged that, because that was the only physical exercise I ever got.
Once my conversation was over, my mum would bombard me with questions.
Who were you talking to? How’s her brother? When is he getting married? What is she up to nowadays? Where are her parents? And the sorts..
And I could never explain to her that the last thing two girls would ever talk about is their family!
So, being true to her colors, my mum asked me a gazillion questions about my college and my classmates. After a while, I got into the groove. There’s just something about talking to someone who really wants to listen, isn’t there? As long as I wasn’t talking about boys, I was safe!
My dad came home later in the evening and was promptly informed that we were going to new place for dinner to celebrate my first step into a whole new world.
Now my dad, wasn’t particularly fond of eating out. He was a simple man at heart. All he wanted for dinner was a simple fare - dal, sabzi, chapatti, rice, salad, curd, pickle, papad, some chutney..maybe some kheer for dessert. You get the picture right?
So he wasn’t really excited about Chinese for dinner, but the rest of us loved eating out and as usual, my dad gave in.
“Fine, let’s go?” My dad picked up the car keys.
“Oh, it’s just around the corner.. You can walk it.” My mum said, going to get ready.
“Fine! Pinku, come, we’ll go ahead. Those two will take ages to get ready.” My dad started walking out of the door.
I glanced at my attire, good enough for an outing with family. I shrugged and followed my dad.
“Dad, where are we going?” I asked as I doubled my speed to keep up with him.
“Some Chinese place. It had a very distinctly Chinese name.” he mumbled walking swiftly.
“Dad!” I stopped dead in my tracks. “Do you know where the place is?”
“Must be around here somewhere.” He said vaguely.
“What’s the name?” I asked incredulously.
“Hwang ho. Let’s ask the traffic cop.” He said walking towards one.
Now at this point, I should mention that both of us don’t speak in Kannada. We in fact, have no knowledge of this language. And that my dad has a talent of completely messing up names. For example, my good friend Nirupama invariably becomes Manorma, My sister’s friend Himanshu becomes Manju and Daphne somehow magically transforms into Dhanvantri!
“Uh, Hwang ho! Chinese restaurant aa! Where aa?” My dad said in his best imitation of a Kanadiga.
The traffic cop stared at my dad for a moment when my dad repeated, “Hwang ho! Chinese restaurant aa, where aa??”
The cop somehow fell for my dad’s ludicrous accent and said, “Nanage gotilla, aa road kade hogi” he said pointing towards the next turn.
It was my dad’s turn to stare blankly.
Not to be easily defeated, my dad replied, “Kannada baringallapa!”
“I don’t understand?” The cop said in crisp English.
“Oh! You speak English?” My dad asked the cop.
“You don’t speak kannada?”The cop glared at my dad.
“That’s what I said, Kannada baringallapa!”

Now that I think about it, it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t understand the language. I could tell from the cop’s expression that he wasn’t very happy. He was literally spewing fire!
I half dragged my dad away from there to the road the cop had pointed at.
“Dad, are you sure the place is called Hwang ho?” I asked, walking down the street jotted with Chinese restaurants.
“It was something like that.” He said confidentally.
I groaned inwardly, “Maybe we should call ma?” I suggested.
He nodded and pulled out his phone. “Not reachable..” he said after trying Sona’s and Ma’s phone.
“Fine! Let’s just eat somewhere and go home. I’m tired.”
I nodded, I was quite miserable by now too. “Let’s go to this one!” I pointed at a fancy looking place.
“Fine! Anything!” my dad started walking up the stairs when something struck me.
“Dad?” I asked hesitantly, “You are carrying money right?”

I knew dad carried all his things in a briefcase which we had gifted to him on his birthday. Since we had dragged him out as soon as he had stepped in, there was a high possibility that he’d forgotten to pick up his wallet.
“What rubbish!” my dad said checking his pockets, “Of course I have..” he stopped mid way.
Slowly, he pulled out a 100 Rupee note from his pocket. He looked around for a while and then stopped in front of a darshini.
A slow apologetic smile appeared on his face, “How about we have dosa tonight?” 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 7

I followed Sona meekly, not daring to look at Samrat’s face. After we had walked some distance, Sona pushed me into her friend’s car.
“You too..” I heard her say roughly to Neeta.
As she got into the car, she said to me, “YOU don’t know what I’m going to do to you!”
I gulped a little, thanking my lucky stars Neeta was there. Her presence would ensure that whatever Sona planned to do, it wouldn’t be too severe. Unfortunately for me, Sona seemed to have thought of that.
Till we reached Neeta’s house, Sona didn’t utter a word. Poor Neeta who wasn’t used to seeing my sister’s evil side, was practically having anxiety attacks. The relief on her face as we  dropped her off was all too apparent.
Her friend dropped us off right in front of our house.
“Listen to me, I want you to stay away from Samrat okay?” Sona threatened as we stepped inside.
For a second I wondered what was going on between the two of them but I had more sense than to ask. I was still anticipating what she was going to do to me!
I rubbed my hands together. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t really scared of what Sona could do to me physically. I mean, we were way past the age when we used to try and hit each other. When we were younger and Sona was taller and bigger, she used it to her full advantage and many a times I would go running to my mum for protection.
Of course, she grew tired of it pretty quickly.
“Once one of you kills the other one, the survivor will have to do all the chores.” She had said calmly, effectively putting an end to all our physical fights which is quite sad because now that I’m all grown up, I think I could take Sona, easily.
Anyway, I think Sona also realised that a physical fight would no longer be favorable for her. So she had moved on to other tactics. Sometimes, she would wait till mum and I had a fight and then she would strike. Nodding in agreement with my mum, she would make my mum feel that she had a rebellious child in me and an angel in my sister.
“Oh yeah? Or else what?” I said bravely, once mom was in view. Sona wouldn’t dare do anything in front of mom, now would she?
Sona smiled smugly, “I didn’t want to do this.” She whispered as she walked towards mum.
I ran after her. I didn’t trust her one bit!

My mum smiled as she saw her two daughters running towards her. Maybe she thought it was an indication of our affection, but the truth quickly sank in when both of us started shouting at the same time.
“She’s lying!” I screamed without having any idea what my sister was saying.
“Stop it! Both of you! Whats going on here?” My mum said wearily.
“She’s ruining my social life.” I complained, pointing at Sona. Sona just laughed a little and walked away.
“Social life? What social life?” My mum asked suspiciously glancing at Sona.
I passed a triumphant look to Sona and started describing to mum how I had met Samrat and how he had so heroically saved Neeta and I from the evil seniors.
“I don’t understand!” My mum started, looking slightly confused. “Why are you spending so much time with seniors?” She glanced at me.
“What? No! that’s not the point!” I exclaimed desperately trying to turn the conversation around.
My mum sighed deeply and placed a hand on my shoulder, “I know, you’re enjoying the attention right now. But these kids they’re much older than you.. And you don’t know them and all your sister is trying to do is protect you.” She turned towards my sister lovingly.
I rolled my eyes. Sona was practically glowing, as though she had a halo on her head.
“Ma!” I tried to interrupt.
“No, I’m happy.” My mum declared. “That she is looking out for you! Isn’t that wonderful? Pinku?” My mum towards me. “I want you to listen to your sister okay? Come on,” she cajoled, “Sona just wants you to be safe from all the jokers in college.”
“Yes!” Sona smiled at me, laughter gleaming in her eyes, “That’s all I want Pinku! To help you!”
My mum smiled benevolently at her, practically beaming. “Now that we’ve sorted that out, how was your first day? Many boys in your class?”
My shoulders slumped and I caught my sister’s eye. I nodded slowly, I will stay away from Samrat.
My sister ruffled my hair a little roughly and pranced back to her room gloating over her victory.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 6

I bumped into my sister on my way back to class but looked straight past her! She however, glared at me as I walked by. Clearly, she hadn’t forgotten the morning incident. If she had gotten mad about that, imagine what she would do to me if she found out what I had just done?
Neeta and I stuck close to each other for the rest of the day, keeping an eye on any senior activity. In fact our vigilance ensured that we gathered a couple of fans and soon we were walking around in a herd looking extremely stupid, but hey! At least we were safe.
 Like fools, we let down our guard once we stepped out of college. One by one they left, congratulating each other on having survived the first day of college.  Eventually, only Neeta and I were left.
“Now which way do we go?” I asked, looking left and then right. I had a general idea which way we should be heading but I wasn’t sure about the buses.
“Let’s just take an auto!” Neeta said, flapping her arms trying to flag down an auto. Unfortunately, all she managed to flag down, were a bunch of horrid looking seniors who looked positively filthy, like they hadn’t bathed in ages!

“What luck!” one of them said, jumping out of the jeep. Neeta clutched my hand tightly. Something about these people was just plain off, I could just feel it in my bones.
“I’ll report you to the Principal!” I threatened them as they took a step closer. To my horror, this only seemed to tickle them and they stepped in a little closer.
“Oi!” A loud authoritive voice reached our ears and all of us turned around to see who it was.
Samrat, with a bunch of his friends and the cigarette. “All okay there Sup?” he shouted from a distance.
For a moment, I didn’t react. Then it struck me, he was addressing me! Sup?? Short for Supriya?

“You know him?” One of the dirty gang member, asked, looking a little flustered.
“Yes!!” I replied grabbing Neeta’s hand and running towards Samrat. I turned around as I was running. The horrid gang had all but disappeared.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Neeta and I thanked him once we reached up to him.
He laughed a little, “What were you doing, mixing with their kind anyway?”
“Oh no no! They cornered us!” Neeta said defensively.
He shook his head, “Run along now.” He said as he started to move the cigarette to his mouth. He caught me staring and stopped abruptly. “What?” he asked.
I shut my eyes and groaned inwardly. I had hoped Pinku would remain a secret, at least in college. I guess not. I turned around slowly. Sona was standing across the road, malevolence in her eyes, her arms crossed.
“Do you want me to come there and drag you away??” She asked me, positively frothing at the mouth.
 “I’m coming! I’m coming!” I made an apologetic face at Samrat and ran towards Sona who muttered under her breath, “Fraternizing with the enemy? Really Pinku! Lets go. Neeta? Are you coming or what?”
Samrat who had been watching the scene with great interest suddenly called out to my sister.
“Hey Sonam!” He said.
She glanced at him with a mildly annoyed look.
He held up the cigarette and then let it fall dramatically on the ground. “Turns out,” he said, “It doesn’t suit me.”
My jaw literally, was all over the floor! I looked at my sister, hoping she wouldn’t ask him what he was talking about.
“What a loon!” She exclaimed as she walked off leaving poor Samrat wondering what he had done wrong.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 5

Neeta refused to step out of the class during lunch. I guess she was scared of bumping into Sona. Trust me, so was I. I had no intentions of giving Sona more reasons for killing me, but I had survived in the same house with her for 17 years and it was time to put my training in use.
I knew Sona hated the Sun, books, smelly places. Which implied the safe places for me to hang out would be either a) on the ground, b) in the library, c) around the loo. Since options b & c weren’t particularly attractive, I suggested to Neeta that we go around the campus ensuring we stayed in sunny areas.
“Are you kidding me?” She said, mortified that I could suggest such a suicidal plan. Walk around a campus full of seniors just looking for kids like us to torture.
“What? Don’t worry about Sona.” I said confidentally. “I’ll handle her. As for the others, they won't come near us because of Sona.”
“Really? Are you sure?” Neeta hesitated. I could tell she wanted to, but she wasn’t convinced with my assurances. I smiled to myself, she was no challenge for my smooth talking skills. Within a couple of minutes, Neeta and I were on the ground, under the blazing sun.
A couple of minutes passed and nobody approached us. My words turned out to be prophetic.. Maybe Sona’s reign of terror extended to her college as well?
Neeta was relieved but I was feeling oddly left out. I saw a group of seniors sitting at a distance.  I couldn’t believe I was actually trying to volunteer for getting ragged. I took two steps towards them when they suddenly became aware of my unfamiliar presence.
All my bravado disappeared and I started walking back rapidly.
“Hey! Stop!” A voice commanded.
I froze in my place, cursing myself for my stupidity.
“About turn..” the voice suggested. I turned around slowly, keeping my head down.
“I can’t believe it!” The voice said and burst out laughing.
I looked up, it was the same guy who had mocked my sister.
“So what do you want? How come Sonam let you out of her sight?” He asked, the question laced with sarcasm.
I had to do some quick thinking, I said the first thing that came to my mind. “I have a message from Sona!” I blurted out.
He stopped laughing abruptly and peered at me, “What?” he cleared his throat and asked again, “What message?”
“Uhhh…” I struggled to think of any plausible thing Sona would like to say to this guy, that too through me. “Its private.” I said, buying myself more time.
He looked at me suspiciously and then after a moment, put an arm around my shoulder and took me aside.
“So what is it?” he asked, opening a pack of cigarettes and lighting one.
If I had known then what a chain of events my next sentence would set off, I would probably have never said it or maybe I would have.
I looked at the cigarette in his mouth as he took a long slow drag and blew out the smoke? Was it called smoke? Anyway, he looked like an infinitely cool movie star right then and I knew what Sona would have told him if she was in my place at that moment.
“She thinks the cigarette doesn’t suit you.” I said.
“Sorry?” he asked pulling out the cigarette and staring at it and then looking at me with confusion. “What does that mean?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, I’m just the lowly messenger.” I looked at him carefully. I just wanted to get him all flustered so that he would forget about me and it looked like my plan worked.
I tried not to laugh at his confusion but a snicker escaped me.
He looked at me, “Right, well.. Tell her I don’t care.. now get out of here!”
I nodded and started making my escape.
“Hey, what’s your name?” He asked from a distance
“Supriya!” I screamed as I ran away from him.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 4

I tried to avoid her group by going around them, but one of them caught us.
“Look at these ones, trying to hide!” he said grabbing Neeta’s bag and pulling her into the circle.
For a moment, Neeta looked petrified, then her eyes met mine and I nodded towards my sister. She turned towards Sonam who hadn’t quite noticed who it was.
“Sona didi!” Neeta called out desperately.
I could see my sister freeze as she heard her name. She turned around swiftly and glared at Neeta and then started scanning the crowds. I realized she was looking for me, she knew Neeta and I came together. I bent a little and tried to make my escape.
“Gotcha!” One of the seniors exclaimed as she caught hold of my wrist. “Gosh!” she said, “You look a lot like Sona.. You’re her sister?” She asked.
I gulped furiously looking around for my sister. Her friend raised her hand and called out to my sister, “Here Sona! Your sister is here!”
That’s it! I was dead. Despite my sister’s warning, within five minutes of my arrival I had made it known to at least 30 people that we were related. Sona came over reluctantly.
“I told you to stay away from me!” She whispered as she tried to push me out of the group nonchalantly.
“What’s the hurry Sonam, we would love to meet your sister.” A tall, lanky guy came towards us. He didn’t look like one of my sister’s friends. For one thing, he wasn’t wearing black which was something like a uniform for most of Sona’s guy friends. Secondly, he actually looked quite nice and respectable. Thirdly, well.. he called her Sonam, none of her friends called her that. Nope! Most definitely not a friend.
“So is this what you look like without all that goop on your face?” He told my sister as he looked at my face intently.
Sona just donned an indifferent expression on her face and put a hand on my shoulder. I almost collapsed, was Sona showing some signs of protectiveness towards me??
“Take a hike Samrat.” Sona told him coolly and turned around dragging me and Neeta in tow.
“Both of you, out of my sight!  Now!” She ordered once she had deposited us safely in class.

I was feeling oddly nice. Despite the fact that Sona couldn’t stand me, she had decided to forgo her coolness (momentarily) to defend me. I don’t know from what, but still.. It meant something right? If this didn’t count as a measure of shishterly loue, I didn’t know what would.
“What a start huh?” Neeta muttered into my ear as she sat down.
For once I had to agree with her!