Sunday, December 10, 2017

A little love-story

Our school-bus is stranded at the junction of four roads. The traffic jam is a common phenomenon at this time of the day. There is traffic snarls all around, busy commuters on the pavement, the December chill in the air and... and, that large billboard on roadside advertising "Lalita Dance Academy". A woman is seen in it, wearing dancing costumes, in a typical Kathak dance pose. Srija is a student of this dance academy.

Well, I haven't introduced myself yet. I am Satyaki Chatterjee, 5-years-old, student of KG in a school in Kolkata. Right now, I am on my way to school in my white-and-green school uniform and red sweater. I commute to and from school in our school's yellow-coloured school bus. Yes, my mom has allowed me to go by school bus now-a-days, as I am a big boy now and I don't cry when going to school any more. After all, I am not a baby any more, right? And I have made quite a few friends in school now... Aryan, Soham, Daniel, Rai, and... and Srija.

Srija is my classmate. I like her right from my first day of school. I still remember that day vividly. On that first day of school-life, the classroom seemed like a wild forest, full of strangers. I haven't known any place other than my home till then. In that unknown classroom, I didn't know who'll look after me, who'll take me to the washroom to pee, who'll feed me when I get famished. Mom was not seen anywhere. I was terrified and I started to cry. Srija was sitting in the desk next to me. Watching me crying, she too started to yell. It was a classroom filled with thirty odd students, all crying, sobing, yelling. Then came the teachers to console us. Our dance teacher, Priyanka ma'm, hugged both Srija and me, and comforted us. Later, when the cry subsided, I noticed her. In her pink cheeks, big eyes and brown traces, she looked really cute. I felt an instant liking for her. Gradually, we became friends and started talking a lot. We even got punished by the class-teacher for talking during class on more than one occasions.

The Annual Day Celebration of our school is scheduled to be held before the commencement of the Christmas holidays. Srija is performing a dance there. Last year too, she performed a dance. And needless to say, it was just fantastic! This year, too, I am eagerly waiting for the day just to watch her performance.

Today is 24th December. The whole school is decorated beautifully with flowers. The school auditorium is full of students. The anchor announces Srija's name. And here she comes. Today she is looking resplendent in her red-bordered yellow sari. She has mastered the dance moves even more perfectly during the past year. I am dazed. Then just when she comes down from the stage, Soham stands up from his seat, picks up a rose which was kept in a large vase within a bouquet of flowers in the auditorium and offers it to Srija. "You were just amazing", he said. Then he produced a Cadbury from his trouser's pockets and offers it too to her. "Soham, you are my bestie", she proclaims. I instantly feel something twinge deep within me. What is it called? Well, five-year-olds don't know it's name perhaps.

Soham's Papa has come from his official tour in Switzerland. "Do you guys know what I found when he opened his suitcase?", Soham is asking us. "What? What?", we all ask in unison. "See, these chocolates." He offered us all chocolates bought from Switzerland. "And this is only for Srija. These biscuits are called leckerlis. They have hazelnuts and they are very tasty." "Oh Soham, you always know what I like", Srija gives him a hug. I felt that familiar twinge somewhere deep within one more time. Then the clock strikes nine and our class-teacher enters the classroom.

The winter season has come to an end. The trees flanking the roads are flaunting new leaves. Once again, spring has come in Kolkata. Our final exam too, has ended.

Today is the day of distributing progress reports. "Congratulations children. You all are promoted to class one", says our class teacher. We all take our bags and get ready to exit from our classroom. I was coming out of the classroom when I heard a scream. "Help me! Please, someone help me!" It was Srija. A cockroach was right on her desk, staring at her. And to my horror, her school-bag was still there on her desk. A chill is coming down my spine. Danial, Soham, Rai, all are standing near the door, fear writ large on their face. Suddenly, I felt the need to protect her from this great danger. I opened my bag hurriedly, took out my pencil-box and hit the cockroach with it. Then I took Srija's bag from the desk and holding her by her hand, took her out of the classroom. "Satyaki, you are my bestie from now on". She gave me a tight hug, tears welling in her eyes. Getting promoted to class one can't be more wonderful than this. Isn't it, friends?

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend
WOW - Construct A Story
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living by Howard C. Cutler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Happiness is as elusive as a butterfly, and you must never pursue it. If you stay very still, it may come and settle on your hand. But only briefly. Savour those moments, for they will not come your way very often."

So says the proverb. We all seek happiness, but we almost always find happiness to be elusive. In this book, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama teaches us the art of finding happiness. The book is actually written by Howard C. Cutler, who happens to be a Western Psychiatric. He had many interactions with Dalai Lama and in this book, he has presented the essence of those interactions. He has validated Dalai Lama's words with modern Western Psychological research results. Cutler's own words sometimes seem to be a bit dragging, but Dalai Lama's wisdom is as pure as a glass of crystal clear water, that'll surely quench the thirst of many souls, who have become overwhelmed by the challenges thrown by life. Dalai Lama basically teaches us to be good human beings and cultivate positive traits and eliminate negative ones.

A book to read again and again to find solace. A must read for all.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

At the age of Twenty

If given a choice to pick a age for the rest of my life, I'll definitely choose you, my 20 years of age. No, I am not going to choose 3 years, the age of my first encounter with school, for I have only vague recollections of that age now. I'll not choose 13 years, the age of the transformation from being a girl to being a woman, for that age was full of embarassment. Not 18 years either, the age of being an adult, for in that age I was too busy in preparing for my engineering entrance to think about the facilities of coming of age. 28 years? The age of motherhood? Yes, motherhood is indeed blissful, I do admit that, but then that was a period of turmoil in my life. So, I choose you, 20 years. You are the age full of youthful energy, love for life and lot of laughter. You are all that, and more than that.

"Jisne hamein milaya, jisne juda kiya
Us waqt, us ghadi, us gajar ko salaam
Aye pyaar teri pehli nazar ko salaam
Salaam aye pyaar teri pehli nazar ko salaam"

(The one who united us, the one who separated us
I salute that time, that moment, that clock
Hey love, I salute your first sight 
Hey love, I salute your first sight)

Today, as I sit back and reflect on that age, this song comes to my. Yes, 20 years, you are special, for you made me meet my first crush. And as all of us know, what on earth can be as innocent as the first encounter with love at the age of 20 years? Yes, my crush for him never materialized into any relationship. And yet, I don't have any regret for that now. Because with growing maturity, you come to realize that in any relationship, there are many ups and downs, there are pains of separation, there are break-ups and tear-drops. But not in one-sided crush. In any stage of life, if you remember your first crush, that'll surely lit up your soul and leave a lingering smile on your lips. And I am thankful to my 20 years of age for gifting me that experience.

And I remember one particular afternoon vividly. Back in my college days, I used to be a member of The British Council. On one such day, which was a holiday in our college, I had gone to the British Council Library. I was  searching for the books to borrow. I zeroed on a few and took a paper from my bag to write the names of the books. When I opened the folded paper, I got the shock of my life. Scribbled in the paper was a love-letter, addressed to me. There was no name of the sender, just a "Guess Who" written in the bottom of the page. I knew the handwriting. It was none other than him. That afternoon seemed the most magical afternoon in Kolkata. The fading sun-light had the hue of honey. The traffic seemed to move slowly at Chowringhee. I was not walking, I was floating in the afternoon breeze.

That was the magic of the age of 20 years. The world seemed to be a fair place to live in, the life ahead seemed to be promising, friendships seemed to be ever-lasting, all the peppy Bollywood numbers seemed to be meaningful in real life.

Hey 20, I miss you. But you are always there, close to my heart, close to my soul. Even today, when life seems too dull and dreary, I just remember you. And see, your memories always leave a bright smile on my face. Cheers to 20!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend
What One Age Will You Pick For The Rest Of Your Life And Why?
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


Review: Undelivered Letters

Undelivered Letters Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I'd like to thank Sidra for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Here goes the review:

Technology has made it easier for us to connect with others quickly and easily. Now we can instantly send messages via e-mail, sms or whatsapp. But just think of the world as it used to be around two decades ago, when people didn't have the opportunity to communicate with one another with such ease. The only way available for communication was letters. Yes, this book talks about letters, which have become extinct now-a-days. The protagonist of this book, Aron, used to be a postman couple of decades back. After two decades, while he and his wife were packing their belongings for shifting to a new house, they accidentally come across some old letters, that he was supposed to deliver to their recipients twenty years ago. But he somehow forgot to deliver those letters. Now, driven by his conscience, he decides to deliver the letters to their original recipients and embarks upon his journey. Now, if I disclose any further, that would be a spoiler. So go and read the book to find out the rest.

The book surely has a different kind of story-line, which will surely amaze you. The whole book will take you to a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I had read the previous book, "The Highway Man" by the same author, which also had stories with novel story-lines. So I was curious to read this one too. And I am not disappointed. It's a short novel and I managed to finish it in just two sittings.

So, if you are looking for some out-of-the-box story-line to indulge in your weekend, go for "Undelivered Letters". You'll surely love it.

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