Another Day like This

April 23, 2012

Short Stories

Image Copyright Ⓒ ivivalamolly

The aqua green sedan came to a halt at the corner of the road. A yellow ‘TAXI’ sign glowed dully on its roof. The street lights were still on although the night had fallen off the sky.

The driver recovered a small bag from the dashboard and proceeded to the old woman under the tree on the footpath, surrounded by red and yellow crates of plastic containing packets of milk. Two men were noisily unloading blue coloured crates from a pick-up van and dumping them to her right and she was angrily waving at them, the end of her sari fluttering madly in the weirdly windy morning.

Over the past two years, he had picked his packet containing a half liter of Amul Taza milk from her, missing it only when he was visiting his family in the backwaters of Uttar Pradesh. Tai was a trusted vendor, much appreciated for her honesty. But the fact that she was highly inflammable and cantankerous ensured that both deliverymen and customers cleared off quickly. In another half an hour or so, the queue would be at least twenty customers deep. There would also be the chance of Amul packets being sold out. That would happen often earlier whenever he was booked with passengers in the wee hours. It was not easy to break ice with the tight-lipped woman apart from matters of milk and money. But it had changed after he had spilled the beans on the rude man with a grizzled goatee. She would always save a packet for him which he could retrieve from her home in the adjacent building.

“No calls yet?” The old woman asked him as she slipped a packet of milk in the black bag that he held before her.

“It’s going to be a fifty-fifty today,” the taxiwala said. “If the rain gets strong I’ll be soon among bookings. But if the wind sweeps away the clouds, it will be business as usual.” His phone had started ringing even as he said that.

Abha-Tai, the milk-woman, had seen few hard days in her life prior to the stock market meltdown in January 2008. She came from a rich family who were in the business of polishing diamonds in Surat. Money was common as air and water till the city was hit by plague in 1994 and the factory was looted by their own workers. They couldn’t quite recover from that but long before that, Abha was married to Devesh, a chartered accountant in Mumbai.  Thus, her acquaintance with adversity was limited to Hindi cinemas and the stories she had come across in her childhood. She had once read Anna Karenina, goaded by her best friend, but was repulsed by its inescapable sadness.

When Nehal, their only had daughter decided to marry a Punjabi boy she had met in her management school at Pune, she was hit by the first waves of grief ever. Off all the people on the earth, why did she have to choose a Punjabi? Her husband had lived in a constant state of rage for months and she was worried he’d have a stroke. She had wept silently even as the marriage was solemnized in a Pune Gurudwara after which Nehal had vanished up north, in that wilderness called Punjab, exactly as she had feared. Eventually, she had returned to stay with them for some more months but her father had never quite forgiven her.  It was then that Devesh had started insisting that Abha learn the basic arithmetic, pay the bills and manage the accounts in the bank. His perennially elevated blood pressure had filled him with a sense of foreboding that was only too palpable. ‘Don’t you worry!’ She had blurted out once, exasperated. ‘Were something black to happen to us, I will become a doodh-wali-bai (the milk-woman) and survive!’

She had barely recovered from the loss of her parents in quick succession when the crashing stock market had buried her fate with the suddenness of an avalanche. Not only Devesh’s firm got wiped out, he was harassed by vitriolic clients and later the police, who kept barging in their home at all hours. He kept reassuring her saying he would rise from the ashes like the proverbial bird and show them all the atoms of gold he was made of. The four-bedroom flat was soon sold out to creditors ceaselessly baying for his blood. She never knew what happened to the cars and the expensive furniture. Devesh was smart enough to get hold of a single bedroom apartment in a nearby building, promising her to reclaim each and every pebble he had lost to the wolves. However, before he could grow new roots, he passed away quietly in his sleep one night.

Nehal tried hard to coax her mother into moving to Toronto where she was settled now with her husband. But Abha refused to budge, quite like the stone idol she had worshipped all her life. With her jaws set firmly, she realized the time for penance had come indeed. She had kept cursing her black tongue for the momentary slip that day, but it seemed to have set the juggernaut of her fate rolling irrevocably.  She was duty bound now to see it off to its logical end.

Nehal stayed till the details of the new business were worked out and cried out her heart when she had to go. But Abha surprised everyone with her stoic resilience. She chose a spot on the cobbled footpath under the laburnum tree, just outside the society housing her flat, and did become the promised milk-woman. And she quickly proved her mettle not only with the difficult deliverymen but the surprisingly huge number of customers that turned out.

In her early days as the milk-woman, Abha was struck by the sheer variety of expressions worn by the faces of her customers. For hours and hours, these faces of men and women and children would ask for milk. Some had calm, matter-of-factly tones. Some were impatient and even irritable. The housewives looked bored and some were apparently depressed. Some of the children were merry while others were tentative.  Then there were those who would inevitably return to pick a fight over curdled milk. They would accuse her as if she were running the milk plant in her backyard. Over time, she came to detest the queue jumpers and the flashers of high denomination notes most. She came to recognize most of these faces, barring the odd stranger that came in quest of the white liquid in its various avatars.

On days when Abha was not agonizing over life that could have been different, she wondered what was happening behind all those faces she met every day. She wondered what was happening in the homes that those faces returned to: some content, some poignant, some glowering and some out-of-breath. Just what happiness or tragedies those customers were up against?

She grew fond of a young woman named Komal who dressed in floral salwar-kurtas and smiled with such sadness that it would wrench her heart. She wore her silken hair loose and it kept falling over her face. She had the shapeliest of lips that Abha had ever seen and a perfect set of teeth. She was often late and desperately looking for full cream milk for her son.

Komal reminded Abha of her own daughter in many ways. It stung her heart to remember how both she and her husband never had enough time for Nehal when she was a kid. Devesh would drown himself in a sea of charts and diagrams even at home, preparing for the ungrateful customers whose pockets went on bulging and who would eventually murder him for a slip he was not responsible for. Abha, in her turn, would attend each and every religious proceeding in the neighbourhood and even beyond, leaving little Nehal behind with maids. And yet, this is what the gods had to pay back in return. Her daughter was snatched away from right under their nose. Devesh was hauled back by the minions of Death before he could say even a ‘goodbye’ to her.

She was stunned the day Komal came with her husband who sported a grizzled goatee. He parked the shiny white Honda Jazz abruptly on the road causing a flutter. Then, instead of joining the queue at the back he marched directly up to her, ordering her to pass on two liters of milk quickly. When Abha pointed out the queue quietly to him, he pointed at Komal who was biting her lips in the car, “My wife there drags in the queue day after day. I am short of time at the moment!” He had kept flashing a thousand rupee note at her face as he barked.

Abha found her voice drying out strangely. More than his audacity, there was something seriously wrong with this man that she couldn’t quite put her finger to. She felt a pain mixed with fury surging from deep within her. Others in the queue were getting restless.  Suddenly it hit Abha like a thunderclap. The man owned a financing company and had been the most rabid creditor when Devesh had fallen from grace. He had been the kingpin of many cruel attacks that had pushed Devesh to the point of no-return. How could she ever forget that voice? How come she didn’t recognize the grizzled goatee that put her husband’s head to the guillotine? Does he recognize her now? Was it because of that he was raring to go away?

It was the taxiwala’s turn to pick up his milk from Abha when Komal’s husband had jumped the queue. The driver was on the verge of objecting to the unabashed display of rudeness when the face with the grizzled goatee triggered some memories in his mind too. He could clearly remember having taken him as a passenger twice, along with a tall, short-haired girl dressed in official looking suit. Both the times he had kept brushing his lips at her face and acting shamelessly in the back. And here was the same man now, pointing at a very different woman for his wife, growling at Tai. He held his breath and stood aside for a while after he picked his packet and waited for the queue to recede.

“What are you waiting for?” Tai asked him moodily when she noticed him hanging around for nothing.

“Tai, I need to talk to you,” he said hesitatingly.

“What is it then, quick please?”

“It is about that dishonest man who was shouting at you! Do you know, he is a bastard?” He blurted out.

“Do I need God to tell me that? I have never seen a more deranged baboon!” Abha started throwing away the emptied cartons to her far left loudly.

“No, no, no, Tai! You don’t understand! I tend to hang around in the area which has his office, in the evenings. That man has booked my Taxi twice. Both the times he boarded with an office-type woman and did shameful things in the back!”

Abha’s cheeks turned a deep purple. “Oh, shut up, you fool! It could have been his wife for all you know.”

“Tai, taxi drivers have excellent memories. How else do you think we remember all those roads and buildings, not to talk of the traffic cops? The woman he was with on those days had a longish face and short hair and looked a perfect office-type. The one I saw sitting in the Honda car today had a round face, long hair and housewife type…. Also, I swear by Lord Ganesha, Tai, husband and wife don’t perform in taxis!”

Tai slapped her hand to her forehead, “No wonder the poor soul is down in the dumps! You please go away now!”

Abha couldn’t help watching out for Komal now. It didn’t take her many days to realize that Komal would almost always stand next to an intense looking man in glasses and three-quarter pants whom she knew to be a software engineer. He was a pleasant man to talk to and he had inquired after her health many times. He used to come from a building which was a long way off and he could have easily picked up his supply of milk at the booth which was closer home. Over the next few days, Abha noticed that instead of joining the queue as soon as she’d come, Komal loitered around the place till she saw this man and then both would stand next to each other talking softly. And if the man happened to come first, he would similarly wait for Komal. ‘What could be happening now?’ Abha thought. ‘Are they related somehow? Or, are they just two strangers who have taken a fancy to each other?’ She was sure of one thing though. She could sense that unmistakable yearning in their eyes and the fingers expectant of each other’s touch. Yet, for all she knew, that man was a husband and a father!

Abha was not sure whether Komal and that man were getting increasingly listless or it was merely the effect of her increased interest in them. Abha started to strain for every wisp of whisper her ears could collect. It seemed that the man was about to move out of the city soon. There was something wrong here for sure. There was no reason why people shouldn’t be getting enough love on this earth.

“If I may ask you,” Abha sought from him soon, “Are you moving out of Mumbai?”

The man kept thinking as he counted the rupees and passed on to her. “I have been transferred to Bangalore on a new project,” He said in a small voice.

The rain had picked up volumes but so had the wind and the water was swerving in the mid air before hitting the land. It was useless to carry an umbrella and those without raincoats were flitting past quickly. The turnover of customers at the milk stall had been low the whole morning. Abha was getting restless under her coveralls trying to stop the water from entering the pouch of currency notes.  It was already quarter past eight and only half of the packets had been collected. The pickup van was driving with raw hands that were not regular delivery boys and she had long arguments with them over payments. Once they drove away she found herself looking up at Komal. There was no one else around except her friend who was approaching them fast. Abha asked her if she knew when he was likely to leave the city.

“Probably tomorrow.” Komal said, colouring up despite the rain.

“Why don’t you have a quiet cup of tea together?” Abha asked her quizzically.

Komal’s lips trembled as she looked at her.

The queue-mate was already standing by her side.

“This is the key to my flat number A301 in the Paradise Apartments at my back.” Abha pushed a key in Komal’s palm. “There will never be another day like this!”

_________________________________________________________

About umashankar

The question then is, am I a writer? It is true I wriggle a pen to colour my notepad, or tap at a keyboard to darken the pixels of my desktop screen. If the strings I weave paint a canvas to my readers, borrowing the hues of their own vision, maybe I am.

View all posts by umashankar

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111 Comments on “Another Day like This”

  1. Akshay Kumar G Says:

    I am amazed as always Sir. I love the way you weave real-life incidents like the plague of 94 and the Recession of 2008 into your story.
    I was a bit intrigued to see what Abha would do after she realized that the goti guy was the one who was responsible for her present situation.
    Did she actually give him the 2-liter milk which he demanded?
    And I also felt that the queue-mate of Komal and their possible affair was a bit hurried, I can understand Komal’s situation as to why she would do such a thing but still I felt that way.
    Abha still owned the flat that her husband had bought? WOW! That’s a brilliant twist and a great end to the story.

  2. sudhagee Says:

    There may be “Another Day Like This”, but there would not be another story like this or another one written like this. Wah, Umashankar, wah. I loved the story and the narrative style.

    PS. I hope you are doing something about getting that book published.

    • umashankar Says:

      Many thanks for the beautiful compliment, Sudhagee! You’ve set my fears to rest. As for the postscript, I believe I am keying up myself for the job!

  3. Saru (@SaruSinghal) Says:

    A beautiful read on a Monday morning.

  4. alkagurha Says:

    Love the way every piece fits in the puzzle towards the end. The open ended climax is fine and Abhas grit and determination are exemplary. Another masterpiece by a gifted wordsmith.

  5. Zephyr Says:

    Lovely story, completely different from the earlier one. Like the characterisation of Abha tai a lot. Cantankerous and lovable at the same time. The twist at the end is something we have come to expect of course. Looking forward to that book. :)

  6. debajyoti Says:

    that’s a wonderful piece of writing albeit i prefer fun stories, but your seamless narration made it an excellent read for me.

    started reading this at 8 and finished now. was watching the match :D

    • umashankar Says:

      I am glad you read it despite IPL fixtures and it being an unfunny one. I don’t mind your watching cricketing equivalent of merde as long as you read my stories! :-D

  7. Asif Says:

    You’ve got the knack to churn out really interesting climax for your stories. I am not going to harp on about narration, u know u r good :)

  8. C. Suresh Says:

    Lovely writing and great characterisation. Character building is a difficult art but you do it so effortlessly. Good to learn that you are writing a book. All the best with it.

    • umashankar Says:

      It is hard to proceed when I can’t think of my characters acting on their own and for them to have some verve, I must put life in them first! Many thanks for your kind wishes, Suresh.

  9. magiceye Says:

    wonderful imagery… was like watching a movie!!!

  10. Rachna Parmar Says:

    A really nice story! I read it twice because sometimes the length makes my mind lose focus :). Abha’s story was touching albeit a bit incredulous. Komal’s, especially her husband’s, was stereotypical. Coincidences making the pieces fit. Great job done! And, you are writing a book — of short stories? All the best!

    • umashankar Says:

      Glad you liked it despite the incredulous and the stereotype, Rachna. I didn’t get the ‘coincidence’ part though. Would you please help me on that?

      • Rachna Parmar Says:

        Coincidence about the taxi driver having seen the same man and pointing him out to Tai. The pieces fitting — that always fascinates me. I hope you don’t think that I am criticizing. On the contrary, I love your writing style. Yours is the only blog that can weave such complex stories. I am a bit outspoken and candid, sometimes that can be misunderstood. Of course, you have a way with words, but I am sure you are looking beyond “good story” and “exceptional writing” comments.

        • umashankar Says:

          Rachna, it is important for me to learn what my readers are thinking. You have relieved me a lot by coming back and enlightening: I am grateful to you for that. The taxi driver does play a supporting role to the denouement of the story. Without his input on the man with the goatee, his presence becomes meaningless. And you cannot afford to have inconsequential characters in a short story.

          You are absolutely correct when you say I am “looking beyond “good story” and “exceptional writing” comments”.

  11. bhavanas11 Says:

    I received notice that your post had been published when I was driving late night yday–I was waiting most anxiously for the time to read it…I love the post USP. I love your portrayal of Abha and I love how she delivers justice in such a sweet steady way. Had just watched Life in Metro on Sunday and was upset that the movie never dared to cross the line for the woman (Shilpa Shetty). Your narrative does what the movie could not and the circle closing via Abha–it has a certain legitimacy and acceptance which strangely relaxes my heart–thank you for this very very lovely post!

    • umashankar Says:

      Bhavana, your comments are inspiration to me. You did touch the heart of the narrative.

      I am also frequently troubled when they stop tantalizingly short of crossing the line for women. I am thrilled you appreciate it.

  12. Bhagyashree Says:

    Lovely story. Enjoyed it :)

  13. sujathasathya Says:

    what a beautiful story …you have such a gift with words.

  14. Rahul Says:

    Leaving a comment when most of your ardent readers have commented makes the task both easy as well as hard ! Easy as most have covered all aspects and difficult to add more! The narrative and plot was gripping. Hope to read your collections some time soon:)

    • umashankar Says:

      Rahul, I thank the Almighty for my precious readers including you. That said, I’d love to receive your own feedback from you. Thanks for appreciating the ‘narrative and plot’ and wishing well for my collections.

  15. jaishvats Says:

    Took some time off work during lunch to read and that was indeed Refreshing!! Great!!! Simple and nice!

  16. dnambiar11 Says:

    This tale was woven so beautifully that I didn’t want it to end. That’s not really how I feel about lengthy posts, normally. :D.
    USP, I also like the fact that you didn’t turn Komal into a pathetic and naive character.
    When will your next story be out? :)

    • umashankar Says:

      Thank you DN, for the heart-warming compliment. I try not to write long posts but can’t help it at times. :) I am happy you liked the character of Komal. Watch out for May!

  17. Leo Paw Says:

    Another story like this? no way! it’s unique. This is the first long post on a blog that I read twice and want to read more. frankly speaking, I’m waiting for your book release. :)

    • umashankar Says:

      Hey, Leo! You lighted up my evening! I am thrilled by your appreciation of my work. The book may take some time coming. A million thanks to you for waiting!

  18. makpossible Says:

    I was never inclined towards reading long (longer) posts like this but you had me paired with your story till the end sir. Absolutely intriguing.
    You have depicted the unsatisfied souls of this society. Character of Abha Tai was out of this world. Never expected the end to be so fascinating.

  19. The Fool Says:

    Very beautifully woven once again. Feels so real.

  20. ddeepa Says:

    Very well woven. Keeps you interested till the end. Nice twist at the end. Very unexpected. I see comments about a book. Looking forward to reading that too! Best wishes!

  21. ddeepa Says:

    Like others have said, I also dont read too many long posts. First long one in a long time and loved it!

  22. Samir Shyam Says:

    Dear Umashankar, once again a brilliant writing with powerful words and narration…….. finished it in a stretch………with pictures emerging in my mind at each & every line………..like watching a movie………very interesting………though the end was unexpected………..is part II expected or one has to imagine what will happen in Abha Tai’s flat :), remarkable job !!!! Eagerly waiting for the book :)
    “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” – Johannes A. Gaertner (1912-1996);
    Art History Professor, Theologian, Poet

  23. umashankar Says:

    Samir, many thanks to you for the powerful compliment. I am sorry, the story ends here. That book may take sometime coming. Thanks for sharing the beautiful quote by Gaertner.

  24. Richa Says:

    A job well done! Loved the characterization in the story and the story of course.

  25. Giribala Says:

    Interesting!! Though Abha Tai’s adversity scared me in the beginning….

  26. Shiju Sugunan Says:

    I did not leave a comment on your last post because I quit mid way. The story could not hold my interest. But, this one surely did hold my interest till the end. I liked the fast pace of the plot. The story actually made me smile at many parts. Like how Tai used to observe the silken hair and shapeliest lips (very much a male’s obsession). It was a pleasurable read just like a Bollywood masala movie where all incidents and characters apparently fit together towards the end.

    • umashankar Says:

      Shiju, I am thrilled to learn you liked this one and even discovered Bollywood masala in the story, although I would like to plead I have visualized an end rather alien to the genre you talk of. Eye for the finer details is common to both sexes and here again, there will be times you’ll be surprised to find women who are more analytical of the beauty, or lack of it, of their own sex than men.

      Many thanks for the compliment.

  27. alphaqsecc Says:

    Great write USP!
    One more die-hard fan into your club.
    I loved all the characters especially Abha-tai….somehow I feel a connection with your writing. Its wonderful,the way you write…you express…you’re such a story-teller.
    I love open-ended stories…gives lots of scope for readers to scratch their brains.
    And reading your blog was like going through a short-film….I’d portray every character!
    Kudos….Keep writing, Sir :) :D

  28. alphaqsecc Says:

    PS: I couldn’t get how the picture you uploaded is linked in here! Maybe you’d portrayed some actually clicked picture connecting the story.

    • umashankar Says:

      That picture of an old lady was taken by ‘ivivalamolly’ and it stands copyrighted to the photographer. I chose that image as I felt it conveys a sense of resigned solitude .

  29. sumanyav Says:

    Oh my! i absolutely loved this story. The coincidences actually reminded me of Dickens! And your character building reminded me of Austen. And yet this is such a contemporary story. You have found in me a regular reader!

    • umashankar Says:

      Sumanyav, thanks for mentioning those two mountains to the pebble here; I am touched. I feel blessed by the readership of authors like you.

  30. jkhona Says:

    OMG! The story went like a nice fluid down my throat! I couldn’t take my eyes off for a moment. I have forced one of my friend to specifically go through this post. I think it was a good decision to skip Going Blind to reach this post! Almighty knows when I would get that best mood to go through Going Blind. But I think I can dedicate next week to all of your older blogs. It would be US-Pandey-Week! a word-promotion is also on my agenda, since the link to your treasure is easy. just need to mention- uspandey.com to folks around me! Thanks again, for this post. And a book is on your agenda?

    • umashankar Says:

      My dear Jkhona, you are a dream reader for a blogger! Thank you so much for your efforts. Do read Going Blind and other stuff and please keep coming back!

      ps. Yes, there might be book(s) on the agenda!

  31. suranga date (@ugich) Says:

    Reminded me of the time we were kids and my father would take us to the terrace on a clear night to show us the stars and constellations. He could clearly see the Mrug, and the Big Bear, while we wondered about the contributing mass of stars. This story was like a brilliant night sky with the Abha constellation so clear….

    A tough, green Abha tree
    luxuriating on the
    wide spread
    tough branches,
    bearing dainty flowers
    and
    timely fruit.

    Age
    has modified the green
    but the troubled roots
    in the life-eroded soil,
    exposed to fate,
    learn to skim across
    the land surface
    occasionally,
    to ascertain the ways
    of a difficult world,
    where
    Some , power drunk,
    yanked branches
    for blocking a decent breeze,
    whacking them
    with sharpened harsh abuse.
    and some
    simply came to see
    what made the old Mother tree
    so popular.

    Tired travellers rested
    on its lap,
    a few stopped
    to catch a breath
    before running
    to catch up
    a difficult life mile,
    and
    some
    simply came by
    seeking empathy
    from a fellow sufferer.

    Birds of a feather
    they flocked together,
    as the tree
    inviting them to nest within,
    shrugged a few branches
    to indicate
    to some other birds
    that,
    there were some folks
    below
    who would be ideal targets
    for dropping some stuff….

  32. Rashmi Singh Says:

    Hey… just dabbled upon this one. weaved to perfection. Would be coming here often now.

  33. raju070 Says:

    That was just brilliant as usual. I have said it before and I will say it again. You are a great writer and a phenomenal story teller. The thing I loved most about this story was its characters. You have etched and detailed wonderfully that the story unfolds seamlessly in front of the eyes of the reader. Exceptional! :)

  34. Ramakant Says:

    Another fantastic story. Lovely characterization of Abha Tai. The different threads proceed nicely. If you write a book, do let me know. I will be sure to get one.

  35. Lalit Says:

    Let there be a part 2 of this. You cannot end it like this. I will grow grizzled goatee if you do.

    • umashankar Says:

      Lait, I am sure there is an acronym for it, but I wet my pants laughing !! :-D Incidentally, this was the 1000th comment on my Blog and you have made it unforgettable!

      ps: I’ll let you know when its time to grow that grizzled goatee !

  36. Rohiensis Says:

    :) This place never ever disappoints me. How gifted are you. Its sheer mastery how the plot and the characters hold on to each other to bring out something so fantastic. All my hats off to you!!
    Amazzzzing work.

    • umashankar Says:

      Thanks for appreciating the plot and characters, Rohu. It will be for ever my intent never to disappoint my readers. Hope you’ll keep returning to this place.

  37. Chotu Says:

    in the beginning it seemed the characters are loosely coupled, but the end terminated them to be highly cohesive. well narrated and perfectly ended.

  38. Shaifali Gupta Says:

    How could you write so long stories….? :-)
    I read the story and almost all the comments too! One reader told you- long stories makes him lose focus…same goes for mine, esp when I am a poet :-) but let me tell you, your long stories are intriguing and keeps me gripped like a favourite movie. Interesting story Mr. Pandey and I loved the end!

    • umashankar Says:

      All’s well that ends well! Thanks for reading the comments too.

      ps. You obviously skipped the folks who want a second part of the story! ;)

      • Shaifali Gupta Says:

        :-) Yeah..I am curious too! Komal and this guy seems to be in love….I don’t know or I may not be sure of somehow. I would definitely like to read more about their story. But you remember, translation of Saru’s poem brought me to your blog…I am an avid poetry lover, so waiting to read a poem from your pen!

        • umashankar Says:

          Shaifali, you have me confused now. You’d rather not read long posts, but you are curious about Komal and her story ahead too, which may mean another 4000 words or so.

          As for poetry, I believe if I force it, it will sound fake. There are moments when nothing you scribble reads like poetry. Then there are those when all you can write is poetry.

          I wait for my moments.

        • Shaifali Gupta Says:

          Gurudev RabindraNath Tagore wrote- “Poetry is the sanctuary where the deepest truths of my life emerge”…I am a strong believer and for me poetry is my breath uphill…. I will wait for your moments too.

  39. AB Says:

    A moving story and a sensitive portrayal of a courageous woman……Abha is a simple milk vendor and a woman steeped in traditional values, who could not digest her daughter marrying a Punjabi boy….yet she opens the door to her flat for Komal and her lover to have obviously much more than just a cup of tea together…….however, the wonderful characterization makes her gesture completely natural….the ending elevates the story

  40. umashankar Says:

    I take it as good omen that the character of the protagonist found favour with you. I am glad you like the end. I like it too! Thanks, once again, for your support, sir!

  41. sharvani Says:

    wow…very intricately woven…and a brilliant finish…reading Abha’s story gave me a sinking feeling, but the end re-affirmed my faith in the joy of small things.. I’d love to read your book whenever you publish :)

    • umashankar Says:

      Visitors like you re-affirm my faith in writing. I am glad the story stirred up emotions in you. Many thanks for the compliment. You are welcome to the blog (and the book when I publish it).

  42. sudhir srivastava Says:

    Wonderfully written once again. But honestly, I liked the earlier ones better. This story had all the ingredients of a bollywood masala movie where characters appear fast and fizzle out even faster. I expect much better from you. Abha tai also appear unreal. Goatee harassing Devesh and
    then marrying that girl Komal well well. Popular writing, not your style, I am afraid. I enjoyed reading it more than I did any of Chetan Bhagat’s works. But I would still insist that you are far too good for such stories. Five marks on a scale of ten.

  43. ddeepa Says:

    Hello,

    I only recently discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading it ever since. I would like to gift you an award in genuine appreciation, no pre-conditions attached. Just something that I feel applies to your blog. Please view http://deepa-duraisamy.blogspot.com/2012/04/and-winner-is.html for the award. Hope you like it!

    Thanks,
    Deepa.

  44. kavita Says:

    A brilliant narrative . The climax raises the story to a different level . Loved it . And yes , congratulations on your award (the comment above ).

  45. umashankar Says:

    Thanks and welcome to the blog, Kavita. I am happy you liked the narrative as well as the climax. That was so kind of Deepa to consider me for the award :-D!

  46. pchandra Says:

    I have been away from internet for some time and what a surprise awaited me at your blog! I have come to find my favourite blogger in full bloom! You know how I test the class of a story? When I wake up the next day still thinking about it I know that was a good one! That is was what this story did to me. Please, I must read the other ones now….

    • umashankar Says:

      Am I thrilled to see you again, sir! It is great to past that test. I’ll wait for your feedback on the rest of them too. Many, many thanks to you.

  47. kayemofnmy Says:

    Really enjoyed the story. Abha’s character is complex but credible. Would love to read the other stories everyone’s been commenting about.

  48. Charu Says:

    For every genuine writer there are ten thousand phony bloggers on the internet. I have stumbled upon a genuine one today after a long time. I’ll thank my friend for referring to your blog today. Coming to the story, I loved the vivid opening and closing scenes. Character of the old lady rose credibly and clearly from between the lines. As someone has said above, the end was truly elevating. I will remember it more than the stories of some of the crowned authors of this world.

    • umashankar Says:

      Charu, I am afraid your observation regarding the state of Internet may be true to certain extent, although I am not sure of the bracket to which I belong. Thanks for the appreciation and the reassurance though. I consider myself blessed to have received your attention today. Do come again.

  49. Varsh Says:

    Absolutely loved the many layers you gave to Abha’s character! The story’s woven very beautifully and the climax is even better.

  50. Piyush Verma Says:

    Dear Mr Pandey,
    Any short story can be judged on its four integral ingredients: cohesiveness/compactness, plot, narration and characterization.
    This story displays a fine balance of all these ingredients.
    Character of Abha-Tai is brilliantly crafted. Cruel buffets of life have taken her towards a new interpretation of life. Now she believes in celebration of life flouting established dogmas of morality.
    Your palimpsestic narrative, enchanting uncertainty and plot are key-notes of the story.
    Your whirl of words always compel me to take shelter of different dictionaries.
    Last but not least this is not a cheap thriller.

    • umashankar Says:

      Dear Sir, I am overwhelmed by the sudden shower of compliments. You did reach the core of Abha Tai’s character. As for words, I have always tried to pick the ones that can best say what I want to. Thank you for your effusive praise, attention and above all, reassurance that this is not a cheap thriller.

  51. ruchi jain Says:

    you had many real life incidences , which you posted well here,.:)

  52. Sangeeta Reghu Nair (@Sangrywords) Says:

    Umashankar- Brilliant !! And I don’t agree to what Sudhir has to say about this post .. I think he must really go back to watch a couple of recently released so-called blockbusters ..

    Sorry to sound so harsh on Sudhir but I love every-bit of your narration …

    P.S. – you are much much much much better than C B .. I don’t know if I have ever bought a book thought of it as a waste of money other than his..

    • umashankar Says:

      Thanks for the appreciation, Sangeeta. And knowing Sudhir, who hasn’t really been watching the ‘Bollywood Masala’ after all, I was not surprised by his feedback. Even if personal, he has a strict touchstone through which life must pass and it is frequently at variance with others.

  53. Latha Says:

    Don’t you think it’s time for you to start looking out for a publisher? Or have you already found one? Let me know when you get published, I’ll be the first one to book a copy…:)
    The last lines are awesomesttttt( again using my son’s word here)..
    I think it’s jet lag..out of all the things in the world, you striked in my mind at 2:27 am to make me read…need I say impressed?..:)

    • umashankar Says:

      Latha, I will be forever grateful to you for thinking of my humble work at 2:27 a.m. and reading it, jet-lagged and all. What is more, you have promised to buy the book that is still in works! Thank you SO MUCH for the compliments and the encouragement.

  54. Bikramjit Singh Mann Says:

    Excellent , Another lovely story ..
    and true there is never a good day other then today .. Abha sure has a keen eye ..
    so what happened then to komal , I am sure there can be a sequel to this one for sure. ..

  55. arpana Says:

    Loved the way you weave the characters and have taken incidents of up and down of life.

  56. JayadevM Says:

    Really enjoyed this one, Umashankar!

    People at the crossroads of life, chequered lives, interlaced lives … Wow! Quite a tapestry you created with those characters in this “big” short story.

    Each one can be further elaborated, if needed; they were interesting, the good and the bad ones. I’ve said this before – you can tell a tale!

    And you made the weather resonate with the goings-on in the characters’ lives.

    The bitter-sweet ending ….. Loved it!

  57. umashankar Says:

    Thank you for your magnanimous comment, Jayadev.

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