Thursday, February 25, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Tart

Its official. I'm addicted to chocolate.

I'm at my cousin's place in NJ for a week, and this is what we have been upto. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

It was the second year of college. Lakshmi, Preeti and Durga applied for the same Home Economics course at the Women's College in the same city. Suresh got accepted at IIT Delhi and moved from Madras. He did not want to leave the city, but after getting accepted into a premier institute, it would have been stupid not to take it up. When he saw pride and joy in his parents eyes the moment the admission results came, he could not think of disappointing them. He really wanted to study at the National Institute of Design, but it was his father's dream for him to go to one of the IITs. The weekly phone calls became monthly. Lakshmi literally started living for them. She spent the whole month waiting for the third Sunday when he could call and talk to her for ten minutes.

It was a friday. Lakshmi was walking back home from college, when she was greeted at the door by her excited mother.

"Lakshu! Lakshu! We have something to tell you" her mother's eyes shone. That only meant one thing. A marriage proposal. She knew it the moment she saw her parents smiling. That's all they talked about these days.

"Amma, let me get done with college first ok? And then we can talk about it. I'm not saying no. Just give me a year"

"Ashok is a really nice man. You have to meet him. His parents are coming over this weekend. You have to meet them."

Lakshmi was trying to buy time before she could break the news about Suresh. She was sure her parents would be happy when she would tell them about him. He was a Tamil Brahmin boy from a respectable family, who would graduate from one of the top colleges in the country. There was no reason for them to say no. Suresh and her had this conversation a million times already.

"Why don't you be strong and at least tell them a little about me? That's the only way it would work" was what Suresh told her.

"No, you don't understand. My father will be disappointed. My mother will get angry"

"Disappointed?! Why would they get angry? You're just giving me excuses. Don't you want this to work?"

"You don't understand. I can't do it"

This went on and on. Lakshmi couldn't take it anymore. There was no way she could tell her parents. Ashok and his parents came to meet her family that weekend. Things moved very fast. She couldn't say no. She was not able to find a reason to say no. Ashok was a nice man. He was well educated, kind and nice to talk to. He would treat her well.


Lakshmi was getting dressed for the wedding. She looked at herself in the mirror, the peacock blue saree shone as she wrapped it around her girlish frame. She walked out of her house to get into the car. Suresh was standing outside and watched her. She could not bear to look at the hurt in his eyes. She deceived him. She was not strong enough to stand up for herself. There was no time. Her mother was in a frenzy, getting things ready and there were a hundred things to do.

Ashok was a good husband. He treated her with care and respect and kept her happy. Lakshmi did not think of Suresh as her life moved on, and then the children were born. Life became busy, taking care of her family and running a house.

It's been seven years since Ashok died. When she got the news, her life was turned upside down. She did not know what to think or do. This woman-child, who was always taken care of had to suddenly take decisions on her own, and was alone. She had to be strong, bring up her daughters and be both a mother and a father to them.

"I've been thinking about this too much today" thought Lakshmi as she left the temple. She decided to clear her mind and go to the art gallery.

She entered the place, and took in the surroundings. It was well decorated with the right amount of lighting. She walked around looking at the paintings, a mixture of modern and traditional at the same time. She stood in front of a painting contemplating if it would match the decor of her living room. There were a few people standing to the left of her talking loudly, distracting.

"Haha, that's funny. No, I'm not married. I just moved back to Madras a year ago" she heard a male voice tell another.

An amused Lakshmi turned and looked into the familiar, most beautiful chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Lakshmi found herself talking to Suresh almost everyday. She would call him the moment her parents were out of sight. The feeling was funny, exciting even. To hear his voice and share events of the day with him and hear him talk about his life. She would tell Durga and Preeti a little bit of what was happening, but she liked to keep somethings to herself. That evening, when her mother had gone to the temple, and while she was talking to Suresh, she found herself agreeing to meet him at the library.

"Why don't I see you at the library?"

"I told you this before, I cannot be seen with you anywhere"

"Ok, I'll sign up to become a member today. At least we can talk a bit in person rather than on the phone every other day. And in 6 months we will both be done with school. And then what if I go off to college in another state? I am going to write the exams for IIT and the RECs. At least that's what my father wants me to do"

Lakshmi paused for a minute not knowing what to say.

"Think about it. But I'm going to sign up at the library anyway"

"Alright. I will see you there sometime. I'm going there this evening."

"Ok. Don't be scared. Nothing is going to happen."

That evening, Lakshmi stood in front of her cupboard for half an hour wondering what to wear. She finally chose the light pink salwar kameez with white embroidery. As she carefully did her hair and lined her eyes with kajal, she wondered how it would be to meet him in person. Choosing her kitten heels and a matching bag, she walked out of the house before her mother could ask her too many questions. Her heart started beating faster as she neared the library.

"Hello!" She greeted the librarian at the desk and quickly walked to the section that wasn't clearly visible from the front. She chose a book from the fiction section and started reading it, the words not making much sense to her. Lakshmi usually liked taking time in the library. She would choose a few books from different sections and then narrow down on what she wanted to take home with her. But today, her mind was far from it.


Lakshmi turned around and looked at Suresh. He had the most beautiful chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen.

"Hi" she managed to squeak.

"Nice library huh. What are you reading?" Suresh took the book from her and looked at it, turning it in his hands "Judith McNaught"

"Yes, it's her new book. I've been wanting to read it"

"Interesting. I doubt I'll ever want to read this" laughed Suresh. "Whats wrong with this?" said a mildly irritated Lakshmi. She couldn't help wondering why he laughed and poked fun at everything. Are all boys like this?

"Nothing. It's just a girls book I guess. Anyway, I have decided what I want to read, so I'll see you outside the library in 10 minutes Ok?"

Lakshmi dint say anything. She just looked at him and Suresh left.

This became like a weekly thing. Every week Lakshmi and Suresh would meet at the library. Sometimes they would walk a little bit together. One day he even went with her to the new jewellery store. Lakshmi was surprised at her actions. She was becoming more and more gutsy. She would never imagined doing something like this. Everytime she spoke to Suresh on the phone and even in person, she felt her feelings for him grow everyday. She knew he felt the same for her too. She could feel it, especially when she would catch him looking at her when he thought she wasn't looking.


Lakshmi looked at the clock. It was almost 5 o'clock. Shruti was getting dressed to go meet her friends and Smriti was in her room. She decided to go to the temple and then quickly check out the new art gallery that opened a few blocks away. She changed her sari, instructed the maid on what vegetables she wanted cut for dinner and left. As she neared the temple, her thoughts slowed a little. She liked spending time at this place. This was a old temple, not too crowded like how most of them today are. She would do a small 'Archana' and then spend about 20 minutes sitting there before leaving.

As she was sitting there, she thought about her wedding day, something that she could not bring herself to think about, it still brought her pain even till now. But she should not feel guilty for feeling this way. She knew it, but couldn't help it. be continued..............

Friday, February 5, 2010

Part 2

Part 1,

PART - 2

The sound of glass breaking in the kitchen jolted Lakshmi out of her reverie. "What happened?" she called to the maid who was cleaning the kitchen cabinet, mildly irritated at the disturbance. She stood up, adjusted the folds of her saree and walked to the kitchen. The sunlight streaming from the window reflected off the shards of glass scattered on the floor making it difficult for them to find all the pieces. She helped the maid clean up with a wet cloth and some Lysol. Lakshmi walked back to the bedroom and stood in front of the mirror. She eyed herself critically. Her eyes were starting to wrinkle a little at the corners and her waistline wasn't as slim as it used to be. She dint expect it to be the same after 2 children anyway. Sighing lightly, she looked around her room. The photographs of her family on the wall always made her emotional. She looked at the smiling face of her husband lovingly holding her two daughters and her eyes went moist.

She tried to clear her mind of her thoughts and settled herself on her neatly made bed with her favorite book. Jane Austen always transported her to another time. However, today she couldn't stop thinking about the day she called Suresh.


Lakshmi walked back from school with Durga and Preeti, her bag feeling heavier by the minute. It felt as though the crumpled piece of paper weighed a 100 kgs. She neared the end of her street and ran into her house without the usual goodbyes that took about ten minutes everyday. She ran into her room panting slightly and sat down on her bed, her hands clammy from sweat.

"Lakshu, come and eat something. You must be hungry" called her mother from the kitchen.

"Yes Amma. I'm coming". Lakshmi washed her hands and face and went downstairs to the kitchen where her mother was heating up lunch for her.

"How was your day?"

"Was fine Amma. We did the usual. I want to go to the library this evening and then to the new jewellery store to buy some earrings".

"Today? No. Your father and I are going to visit his colleague and his wife. They've been calling us over for a while so we decided to go today. They just bought a new house"

"Today? At what time?" Lakshmi immediately started thinking about that phone call.

"At about 6 o'clock. Why? Why are you looking at me like that?!"

"Nothing ma. I was just trying to figure out what time I should go out to be back by 6.

"What is wrong with you? You have to be back by 6 pm any day you go out, before the sun sets. Anyway, you have to help me make sweets for the Puja day after tomorrow. Go to the library tomorrow"

"Alright" Lakshmi finished her lunch and went to read and attempt to do some homework. Her thoughts were on Suresh and if she should call him or not. Her gut feeling said she should. But what should she say? She started practicing various greetings in her head. Should she say Hi? Hello? Oh, what if someone else picks up the phone? Should she ask to speak with him or hang up? The whole afternoon was spent with disconnected thoughts and she was feeling more edgy than usual. Before she knew it, her parents said they were leaving and would be back by eight. Her mom was dressed up in a nice silk sari with flowers in her hair. She looked at her mother, whose sweet smile lit up her day and her father who was so overprotective of her that she felt her love for them rush in and squeeze her heart.

After her parents left and she made sure she saw the car leave the end of the street, she looked at the clock. 6.05. Lakshmi opened her History book and then closed it five minutes later. She went and drank some water. She attempted reading her book and looked up at the clock every five minutes.

6.30. Finally.

She picked up the phone and dialed the number. She could not back out now.

"Hello?" said a voice on the other side.

"Hello?" Lakshmi's voice trembled a little.

"Lakshmi? It's me Suresh"

A small sigh of relief that it was him who answered the phone went through her. She dint know what to say, so she kept quiet. Partly because she was scared and partly because she dint know what to say.

"How are you? Don't be scared. My parents work late everyday so I can talk. I really wanted to talk to you and I'm happy you called"

"Yes, but do you know how much trouble I'd be in if my parents find out I'm talking to you? They would kill me. Or send me away"

"Haha" Suresh started laughing. "Where would they send you?. You girls are always full of drama. I mean I have two sisters. I'm not talking about any other girls" he was quick to add.

"Anyway, I cannot talk now. I have to go"

"Talk to me for five minutes and then you can go"

They continued talking for sometime. About school, about exams that were coming up and the college they wanted to get accepted into the next year. Lakshmi dint know what had come over her. She felt comfortable talking to him and was actually enjoying the conversation.

"Oh no, its 7 45! My parents will be back anytime now. I have to go"

"Alright.But I will talk to you tomorrow around the same time Ok?"

"I don't know if I can call you tomorrow. I am going to the library"

"Library? Which one? Shall I see you there?"

"NO. Are you crazy? If anyone sees me with you I will get into trouble"

"Ok. Don't worry. Bye"



"Ammaaaa! I'm hungry" called a voice from the living room.

Lakshmi's younger daughter just returned from school.

She smiled and wondered why was she thinking about the past. It was so many years ago. Twenty years since Suresh, and eighteen since she got married. It had been a while since she let herself dwell on her teenage years and her thought process then, even though they might be silly to her now. She did not forget the happiness she felt, irrational and free. Those days of getting to know each other and then getting married. The early days of her wedding. How naive she was and how the events of the last twenty years has made her strong in ways she would have never thought possible.

"Momsie" said Smriti, who liked calling her mother all kinds of names. "Whats with the weird smile and faraway look?"

"Nothing" said Lakshmi. "Why don't you tell me what happened in school today?" she smiled at her daughter who was growing faster everyday. As Smriti started talking, she heard the front door open and close and her elder daughter walked in.

"I can't wait to get done with this and be off to college. Hi Amma!" Shruti walked into the house holding a bunch of books.

"OK girls, who wants to watch a movie tonight?"

"I'm meeting some friends at 6 Ma" Shruti informed her mother. "I have a test tomorrow" said Smriti.

"Alright. Some other day then!" Lakshmi couldn't help thinking Shruti informed her these days about her whereabouts rather than asking her. The girls went into their respective rooms and Lakshmi went back into hers.

For some reason, maybe because of the mood she was in all day, she took out her wedding album. She looked at herself, how her slightly hollow cheeks brought out her cheekbones and her eyes. Oh, her eyes. Her husband would always tell her how he would just get lost in them and feel her long beautiful hair. She touched her hair now. Shorter and more bouncy, her face devoid of makeup, her eyes without kajal.

And she was transported to another time and place, a different generation altogether. be continued.............

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Part 1

“Amma, I told you not to buy those green ribbons. I hate them. They make me look dark. I like white”

“Don’t make a fuss Lakshu. I bought them in a hurry from Geetha stores and that’s the only color they had today. Now just wear it and don’t make a fuss”.

Lakshmi was angry. More than angry, she was irritated. She wondered how her mother couldn’t understand such simple instructions. What was so difficult in not buying green ribbons or brown? But she dint say anything. She just made a face and wore them. Shouting and an argument made her disobedient, which she din’t want to be. Appa would get angry and then she would be grounded for the evening. She quietly wove them into her braids and got ready for school.

On the way to school she saw Durga. They started chatting and were soon joined by Preeti. This was their daily routine. They met every morning before school and hung around each other the whole day till the end of the day. Neither of them was ambitious or intellectual. They dint aspire to become doctors or to major in physics or anything along those lines. They were perfectly content discussing what 17 year olds usually do – movies, boys and clothes. That was why they got along so well.

“Ei Lakshmi. Did u do the maths homework? Hissed a voice from the back.

“No dee. I dint do it. I hate doing Maths. I’ll copy it down from Preeti’s book. I don’t think geometry is going to help us in life much anyway. The second class is Sanskrit. I’ll finish it then.

“Oh, ok I dint do it either. I’ll also copy it from Preeti if she finished it. Have to make sure we don’t get caught”.

The rest of the day went on uneventfully except for the usual scolding from the teachers which were being called brats, accused of rowdy behavior and being compared to boys. That was the worst insult a girl could get according to the teachers - to be branded a boy. Not that too many of the girls cared anyway. There were a few who would cry if they were singled out, but by and large the school population grew immune to it by now.

When the school bell rang to signal the end of the day, there was the hurried shuffle of feet and the shoving of books into bags. The din was unbearable. But among a bunch of excited school girls it was inconsequential.

“ooh. Look, Look!!! It’s Suresh! He’s looking at you.”

“No Way. I don’t like him” Lakshmi could feel her face go red as those lies escaped her lips. She turned her head to an angle she knew was flattering. Lakshmi dint really like Suresh, but was flattered by the attention she was getting from him. This made her feel as though she liked him. He would look at her when they crossed paths to and from their respective schools. She was in an all girls school and he was studying in all boy’s school. Which were at opposite sides of the road. Lakshmi always wondered what the whole point was. It just made the high school students want to look more and more to the opposite side.

Lakshmi was never the gutsy type. She was too scared to look him in the eye, going up and talking to him was unthinkable. His name reached her ears one day when someone called him and he turned in response. He was one of the popular boys – The School Pupil Leader as his blue colored badge was proudly displayed on his white shirt. Lakshmi longed to speak to him, to hear how his voice sounded when spoke her name. She often wondered how it will be if she went to have an ice cream with him sometime at Cool Blue ice cream shop. And have him hold her hand and declare his undying love for her. Many a math and history class was spent thus. If the class was particularly boring, she would concentrate on all kinds of details like what clothes she would be wearing. Would she wear her black salwar kameeze with the scooped neck or will it be the red one with the gold trimming and the sheer chiffon dupatta? She really needs to check out which one would look more flattering on her complexion. Suresh was tall and dark and had that little bit of a wave to his hair that was so ‘in’ among the boys. Lakshmi stole another quick look at him and started talking about something else to her friends to distract their attention.

“Do any of you want to go to the library this evening? I requested Ms.Rao to keep a copy of Pride and Prejudice for me.And then we can go to the stores along the temple. I've been wanting to buy green earrings to match my new dupatta..." Lakshmi said as she was rummaging through her bag checking to see if she took her history book from class.

No one was really paying attention to what Lakshmi was saying. All their attention was drawn to something that was happening a few steps away. Lakshu looked up from her bag and saw four pairs of eyes staring at her.


"Aren't you going to read it?" asked Preeti expectantly. Durga's eyes were bright and looked like as if they were going to pop out of her head.

"What is it?" Lakshmi repeated as her eyes spotted a small slip of paper with her name lying on the ground.

"Oh god. Looks like she dint see what happened" gushed Durga. This small boy from the boy's school came running this side, threw this piece of paper at you and ran away"

Lakshmi dint know whether to laugh or not. This was absurd. These things happen only in movies and not in real life. This even looked a bit shady to her. Curiosity got the better of her and she picked it up.

'Lakshmi, call me at this number at 6 30 pm today. please. I want to talk to you. Suresh'

For some reason her hands started shaking. Her eyes got bigger than usual, and accentuated by eyeliner, she looked like a timid, small child. Her expressive eyes did not hide much. "What do I do? Amma will kill me if she finds out"

"You HAVE to call him" insisted Preeti. "C'mon! You like him right?"

Lakshmi's face turned red. She crumpled the piece of paper and hid it in her bag, not before memorizing the number. be continued.....

*I don't have a name for this story, hence the unimaginative title.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I haven't written anything in a while, and I still have visitors here. awesome. :-)

I've been fairly good. Worked all year, did well in school, and I graduated with a Master's degree. yaay!

One of the things that's been on my mind lately is the impending big 2-5! I'm turning 25 in a month. O.M.G. Where have all the years gone? The character in one of my favorite books 'Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe' says something to the effect of "You spend your childhood waiting to grow up but the moment you hit your twenties the years go by like a fast train to Memphis" (I forget the exact words here)

Remember the time when the highlight of the day was when you just wanted to go and 'play' with your friends after school? When it was a big deal that you were allowed to stay up late and eat ice cream on Saturday nights. We dint have video games other than that nintendo(?) where we fought for the controls to play Mario. Another fond memory I have is when my cousins and I used to play 'tent'. We would arrange four chairs in a circle and spread a large sheet over it. I don't really understand the fascination of sitting under it and playing/fighting/arguing, but I guess it was a lot of fun! Or the time my little brother fell down and scraped the skin off his nose that bled all over the place and I cried more than him. Or how about the time my cousins taught me my first cuss words.

But my love-hate relationship with pepsi/coke/all forms of soda hasn't changed.