All posts by My Era

About My Era

My Era is a simple girl who writes about her struggles, her strengths, her failures and everything else that is a part of her life.This blog is her unedited diary.

Shop smarter with Quikr

This year has been very special for my family. We shifted into our newly built home and embraced modern life, like never before. The humongous effort that went in having the house built from scratch and investment of time, money and effort, greatly affected our investment in any artwork.

Though the home we lived in earlier was our own too, but a new home did call for decor make-over to give our new home a dash of contemporary interior designing. From the past six months, slowly and steadily we are working on this front. The living space on the first floor of our home, has a large blank space. It has been screaming for attention to gift it color and life.

Things changed when Blogadda bestowed me with the ‘Free Shopping Fiesta‘ opportunity. As part of this opportunity, I had the privilege to shop for items worth Rs 5,000/- for my home from Quikr.com, share my experience on the blog and also be in the running of win fabulous prizes.

quikr-logo

There has been much talk about Quikr in our family when my Aunt and cousins successfully sold over all the bric-a-brac of their now-grown-up kids at decent price to de-clutter home on Navratri and managing to bag a steal deal on a 32″ LED TV that was barely three months old. Ever since, mom had been asking dad to create an account to taste the joy of good bargain. When this opportunity, courtesy Blogadda came our way, mom was the most ecstatic among us in the family because she already had a wish list ready.
Since, dad hadn’t been taking mom seriously, mom and I teamed up. Mom’s enthusiasm had been pumped by the daily TVCs of Quikr and the narratives of my aunt.

On the homepage,

Quikr -3.1
The Quikr Homepage

We comfortably selected our city and proceeded to Register for an account as we both knew in our heart this association is going to go a long way, given the long list of items mom had in mind of getting rid of and off course to buy.

Quick & Easy Registration
Quick & Easy Registration
Location Selector
Location Selector – They serve across the length & breadth of India

We quickly punched in our details, verified the mobile number (with a simple missed call) and voila we were ready to shop & sell in matter of five minutes. With a budget of five thousand, mom and I had reached a consensus on looking for home decor items, keeping in mind the living space on our home’s first floor.

We clicked on the Home & Lifestyle category. One click and I could feel mom’s face light up like a 1000 watt lamp for the variety at offer and the meticulous sub-divisions had made browsing easy, quick and efficient.

Quikr - Home & lifestyle.1

Our search was driven by following key factors:

a. Home decor item(s).

b. Something to add life to our living space.

c. Item that we couldn’t buy otherwise due to unavailability/ rarity / price issues.

d. Our budget was fixed at Rs 5,000 (though we were open for a deal beyond this budget)

e. Location of the product had to be local to enable us to see the item live, before we finalized the deal.

While we sifted through sub-categories, we added so many items to our wish list, to plan our future expeditions on Quikr. Our search finally ended on Paintings (The listing can be found at: http://ajmer.quikr.com/Paintings/Chandravardi-Nagar_Kiranipura_Vaishali-Nagar/w18222220961 )

Quikr - Painting listing.1
Painting listings for my location.

Mom and I have a strong inclination for paintings. Be it on canvas or fabric (in the pictures below the bed sheet has been painted by yours truly) we love decorating our home with them. We both used to paint on canvas, but over the years somehow we haven’t painted cause of one reason or the other. While finding time to paint is next to impossible in our given circumstances (with mom’s health issues and I being busy with Pari), buying a painting from the art exhibition hasn’t been fitting in our budget either. We were well aware that finding a painting big enough to fill the wall could cost a fortune, but trying to buy an old masterpiece in good condition, could fit the bill.

“Painting to me, is a unique experience. Each work is a surprise and has its own personal and intuitive meaning. After brainstorming feelings and memories, each painting evolves freely and independently”. ~ Fernando Araujo

We started browsing. Beauty, talent and colors lay strewn everywhere the cursor went, but either the price or the size of the painting weren’t quite suiting us. In a few circumstances the alignment being vertical went in our disfavor as we need a horizontal piece of art.

We shortlisted a handful of paintings over a couple of days. In the meantime, mom decided to take the situation in her own hands; quite literally. She downloaded the Quikr mobile app and then there was no stopping her from browsing and finding great deals on items, we had no clue we could actually buy in our own small town.

Quikr app screenshot
Quikr Mobile App

All of the paintings we had shortlisted, were well beyond our budget. But mom was confident, there would be room to bargain as we were dealing with real people and not retailers. With Diwali round the corner, we didn’t want to miss on buying one of these masterpieces. Hence, we chose to directly call the sellers instead sending email messages. One of the sellers was out of station for Diwali holidays, one wasn’t interested in bargain and one agreed for a one on one chit-chat to take the deal further.

Quikr - Painting ad.2

We were quite lucky in the fact, that the person who had given a favorable reply owned the painting we had liked the most. A meeting was fixed. Mom and I went over to meet the seller at their home.

The only point of worry in my mind was the quoted price for the painting was Rs 8,500. When we reached their home, the lady whom we’d spoken to, was busy attending to a few guests. Her son took us to have a look at the painting. In one look, mom had made up her mind. This was it. She loved the subtle tones, the folk feel, and the dimensions to fill our living space in scenic rural Rajasthan beauty. The wonderful condition of the painting hinted the love with which it had been cared for.

The family was migrating to Mumbai, that’s where the boy who’d shown us the painting worked. Since he lived in a small apartment, taking the painting along was out of question. The seller (his mother) was emotionally attached to the painting having owned it for over 20 years.

The family was very warm and happenings of the evening had the goodness of people in love with art, interacting. My mom and the lady got along very well right from the start. Slowly we learnt that she was the sister of one of mom’s college mates. It is indeed a small world full beautiful co-incidences. The deal finally sealed suiting our budget (though a little over 5,000). The two (my mom and the seller) agreed up upon more deals as the lady had many other decor and handicraft items to sell (for which she hadn’t posted an ad, as she was waiting to see the outcome of this deal) before leaving for Mumbai.

The painting arrived in our home post Diwali and has adorned the wall as if it was always meant to be here. The seller’s family was very kind in helping transport the painting safely to our home.

The enchanting colors of rural India
The enchanting colors of rural India
Painting at home
A thing of beauty is a joy forever!
Area from a different angle
Area from a different angle

We are trying to evolve this living area with folk feel of cultural Rajasthan. This majestic painting has added a lot of personality, vibrance and life to the dull looking area. We are currently in the process of buying furniture for this space. Looks like Quikr is going to come handy yet again.

It has been quite an eye-opener, learning experience for me.

While I learnt to look at deals of used (but in good condition) items positively, I also learnt that unwanted goods eating dust in the store-room can actually be useful for someone else. Monetary gains for placing an advertisement for FREE is a huge plus, not to forget the multi-lingual, easy to use mobile app which adds to the ease of operation.

Quikr indeed played the perfect match-maker. The seller sold her painting quicker, we bought what we were looking for since a long time at a steal deal and got a friend for life.

If you are like me, Quikr is the place to be to shop all you want at best deals, available locally to see, feel and like before you pay.

  In dark age of inflation, Quikr is the lining of silver,

When cluttered home bites, Quikr is the saviour,

When classified is your need, Quikr is the answer,

When online deals look dubious, Quikr is true & better,

When retailer’s profit sky-rockets, Quikr is cheaper,

What you want is what you get,

With deals in pocket’s harmony,

Spot ad….act quick… don’t be a loser,

Trust… but be clever,

To win… post a picture,

It’s an addiction that’ll never get over,

Shop smarter,

Shop better,

Save bigger,

Only with Quikr,

Buyer seller ka perfect match-maker.

*This post is a part of Quikr.com activity at BlogAdda.com

God is a Gamer

  • Title  – God is a Gamer God is a Gamer
  • Author – Ravi Subramanian
  • Publisher – Penguin Books India
  • Genre – Thriller (Fiction)
  • Pages – 310
  • ISBN – 978-93-5106-461-9
  • Price – 150 INR

Synopsis –  God is a Gamer is an interesting story which takes the reader from the by-lanes of Mumbai to the beaches of Goa, to the imposing buildings in Washington to the financial capital of New York. A story which takes the reader to places unknown, not seen by anybody, but experienced by many – the dark web. The underbelly of the internet. And in the midst of all this, is  a tale of human emotions. A father whose son returns, a politician who wears his heart on his sleeve, a bank CEO who has a secret to protect. Caught in this quagmire is an old time banker whose gaming company is going down the tube, a couple in their twenties trying to find love, and a FBI agent who is trying to drown himself in work to forget his family. Things get a bit heated up when people get killed.

Woven across all these stories is the story of Bitcoins, the virtual currency which has taken the world by storm. If some bits and pieces of this book leave you in awe, horrified that such things do happen, rest assured, most of the jaw dropping moments in this book have been inspired by real life events.

Review – The book has an impressive cover capturing the essence of the plot with shades highlighting the thriller genre perfectly. I particularly loved the use of gold in the title that adds to the impact of the well-thought title. The apt title and the beautiful cover succeed in matching the brilliance of the plot.

God is a Gamer is divided into 99 short chapters, partitioned by the location of the events. The book starts with an introduction to the many characters leading diverse lives, hailing from different corners of the world. At first, I had to turn back pages to recollect who was who, given the many characters joining the past paced narrative right from onset.

Nevertheless, the author has successfully managed to start the book on top gear managing to keep the momentum till you hit the back cover. Yes, the book leaves you craving for more that you actually wish the book never ends.

I could feel the adrenaline rush in the lucid narration spun in rich vocabulary, with not even a single dull moment in the book. The pinnacle of this thriller ride is, you won’t want to stop till you reach the end, not even to grab a bite. The tight plot kept me from indulging into turning the pages quickly because reading every chapter was both a joy and a learning experience.

Even though the plot is fictional, the author has shared vital information on many aspects of the virtual world. It made me ponder, how foolish we are, thinking that being anonymous on the web, we are safe.  In fact, we are all nude inside out.

I wish to congratulate Ravi on the impact of the extensive research done for the book. Particularly the Bitcoins and bringing to life scenes from different parts of the world through a visually rich narrative. The book almost has a double climax, turning tables more than once. I liked the clever use of rings, more than mere ornaments in the plot.

The FBI investigation was the high point of this thriller plot. I believe, if ever a movie (preferably Hollywood) is made out of this book, it’ll be worth an Oscar nomination. I also liked the very clever use of the Confessions of a Hooker  as a blog and otherwise.

” We just have to go far back enough in time – to the point when no criminal thinks that far ahead. That’s where you will catch him with his guard down”

There are a few aspects of this otherwise impeccable plot, that I didn’t quite agree with.

** Spoiler Alert – Please do not read if you haven’t read the book **

The phishing attack on NYIB was the highlight of the plot and to me it has been executed with the ease an ATM is robbed. Why didn’t the account holders receive any intimation via sms or other means? Wouldn’t this require authentication by the account holder at some point before a withdrawal can be made? Despite the magnitude of the ATM heist, it somehow lost its steam as soon as Townsville took over in the plot.

Varun was left off the hook too easily, just because he successfully planted Laksh Mathur. Despite him being the one handling & heading Townsville and even having visited Ukraine very recently.

How did the green bottle find its way in Tanya’s bag (shown in pictures)? No information about that has been shared despite it being the game changer of the plot.

Samsung is a South Korean company by origin. However while describing the origin of the name Satoshi Nakamoto (Bicoin founder’s virtual name) it is said to have a Japanese Origin.

** Spolier Ends ** 

Question to the author – You have used the real names of many international personalities and organisations like Obama, Tim Cook, Visa, MasterCard, Dell, Apple, Facebook and more. Did you seek permission to use their names in your novel because not all information shared can be verified or is in positive light.

My Verdict - I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys fast paced thrillers that keep you on your tenterhooks. The book the power to tempt you to skim through pages in quest to know who is the master-mind, yet not wanting to miss the excitement of every chapter. An absolute page turner.

About the Author – Ravi Subramanian has been described as the ‘John Grisham of banking’, by the Wall Street Journal. An alumnus of IIM Bangalore, he is the author of five bestselling commercial novels—If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013)—based on financial crime. God is a Gamer is his latest masterpiece.

Rating - 4/5

P.S. – Thank you Blogadda for sending over an author autographed review copy.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Catching The Departed

  • Title  – Catching The Departed CTD
  • Author – Kulpreet Yadav
  • Publisher – Tara India Research Press
  • Genre – Thriller (Fiction)
  • Pages – 255
  • ISBN – 978-81-8386-066-6
  • Price – 299 INR

Blurb on the Book – The dead don’t speak. But sometimes they leave a trail. Andy Karan, an investigative journalist, is tasked to probe one such – the death of a local lawyer.
He ends up grievously wounded. His new-found love Monica’s life is in danger too.
It’s not that Andy wants to live for ever. But to die at the hands of enemies of the nation will be a shame that will transcend even death.

Review – The book has a dark cover in tones perfectly suiting the thriller plot and manages to pump excitement and anticipation in the reader.  I’d like to point that on first impression from the title, I felt it would be a horror novel. Though the blurb of the book hints the reason (death of a local lawyer) as the starting point of the plot and also the inspiration of the title, I believe the title isn’t very apt, failing to capture plot’s true essence.

The cover states  ‘Catching the Departed by Kulpreet Yadav’ was shortlisted for the DNA-Hachette “Hunt for the Next Bestseller” prize. This did have a positive influence in pumping my expectations from the novel, however, what I discovered reading through the pages printed in an eye-friendly font, lies ahead.

This book is #1 in a thriller series with Andy Karan as its protagonist where Andy investigates a murder to end up being sucked into a threat for national security. The book has a fast paced, intriguing first half that builds the suspense and Andy’s character as an investigative journalist with a past in the army, well.

I particularly liked the attention for detail trying to portray Andy as a real, believable hero who fails, makes hasty moves landing in trouble yet has the determination to keep going. His undying spirit pumps life at many points when the story gets predictable and slack.

I wish to congratulate the author in the use of wonderful analogy of the protagonist’s Mahabharata namesake, Karan. Though the analogies are few and far between but they come across as well thought and well-fitting in the novel as well as it’s timing in Mahabharata.

The language is simple and the narrative lucid with one very distracting flaw. The timeline comes across as a bumpy ride with disturbing inconsistencies (especially when trying to gel scene transformations). The author has tried to paint scenes giving picturesque details of the surroundings, but I felt he went a bit overboard in doing the same in the climax.

Monika (Andy’s love interest) in the first half comes across as a smart, secretive, glamorous woman but as the story progresses, she falls victim to no-room given for her character to grow. Without spoiling the suspense or spilling the beans on the plot, I wish to convey that the sequence of events in Murud did portray Monika behaving as a romantic heroine readily sacrificing her entity (and more) just to appease the protagonist. That disappointed me leaving a bad taste.

The second half of the story is disturbingly predictable without delivering a twist in events in the climax, as was hinted on a number of occasions. The master-mind too could have done with more room in the story. I believe, the plot called for bigger, politically sound and powerful accomplices than that have been shown to carry out a mission of this magnitude and gravity.

In the next book (s) of the series I hope to see due care taken to edit the book better to eradicate the roadblocks of grammatical errors and inconsistencies in timeline. The brilliantly drafted plot would evolve as a masterpiece if the author could include more dialogues in the plot, to ‘show more than tell’ and gift the climax sufficient length for impact (to avoid coming across as abrupt).

I recommend the book to everyone who loves reading a fast paced thriller, in a breezy read. The book would make a good one-time read during travel.

About the Author – Kulpreet Yadav the Founder-Editor of Open Road Review, an international literary magazine that has published over 130 writers from 20 countries in the last three years. As a Creative Writing Mentor, Kulpreet has conducted several workshops for aspiring writers in India.

Shortlisted numerous times in literary contests, Kulpreet’s stories and essays have appeared in over 30 publications, in India and elsewhere.

Rating – 3/5

His Runaway Royal Bride

  • Title  – His Runaway Royal Bride HRRB
  • Author – Tanu Jain
  • Publisher – Harlequin India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Genre – Romance (Fiction)
  • Pages – 185
  • ISBN – 978-93-5106-461-9
  • Price – 150 INR

Blurb on the Book – When Maharaj Vidyamann Veer Singh of Samogpur’s beautiful young wife vanished three years ago everyone assumed she was dead. When Veer discovers she’s actually alive and well he’s determined to bring her back home to do her duty…

Meethi loved Veer passionately but felt shackled in the role of his wife. Will they overcome the obstacles to find happiness in marriage?

Review – The book has a beautiful cover in royal tones of red, gold and off-white that captures the theme of the book wonderfully. I particularly loved the red running shoes on the cover. Like the cover, the title of the book has successfully captured the theme of the story.

I am in love with the Indian Author Collection of Mills & Boon because it makes it easier for me to relate to the setting of the story while relishing the goodness Mills & Boon is well-known for.

The book starts on a thriller note which slowly blends in the charming story full of love, passion and an enthralling emotional ride, never losing the mystery element. The plot revolves around the ups and downs in the marital life of Maharaj Vidyamann Veer Singh of Samogpur and his wife wife Meethi.

The book has a unique plot with limited number of characters despite a royal setting.

I wish to congratulate the author on the powerful portrayal of the character of Maharaj Veer Singh. While playing an egoistic, chauvinist, Veer comes across as the ideal dream man who has an aura of realism. He has his due share of star qualities with a pure heart that beats in love while having the strength to own up his mistakes while striving to correct them.

Meethi is a strong willed young girl who wages a war against depression in the loving presence and care of Veer Singh. She fights depression, sickness and all odds to finally take a stand for herself in the climax. Even in the towering presence of Veer, Meethi never fails to impress with her innocence and audaciousness to speak her mind.

The book has captured the emotional upheaval of Meethi well, evoking heartrending pain in the reader. The plot is engaging, language rich, narration lucid and the story has an optimum dose of family drama with the spice of suspense to make this book a very interesting read.

“They sat there in silence for some moments, looking out across the dark wilderness, sparsely dotted with twinkling lights. Life was rushing by and soon their time would be over. And, tragically, they were wasting precious breaths, besieged by complexes and mired in insecurities.’

I particularly loved the sensitivity with which Tanu Jain has slowly ironed out the differences in Veer & Meethi’s married life, helping them see the bigger picture while rediscovering the love that had always been their guiding light.

An entertaining read that I highly recommend to every Mills & Boon fan.

About the Author – Tanu Jain currently lives in Gwalior, India, with her family. This is her second title from the Indian Author Collection of Mills & Boon. Her first book was ‘His Captive Indian Princess’.

Rating – 4/5

Angarey

  • Title  – Angarey : 9 Stories and A Play Book-Angarey
  • Author – Translated from Urdu by Vibha S. Chauhan and Khalid Alvi
  • Publisher – Rupa Publications Ltd.
  • Genre – Fiction
  • Pages – 101
  • ISBN – 978-81-291-3108-9
  • Price – 199 INR

Blurb on the Book –  Angarey was banned by the government of the United Provinces a few months after it was first published in 1932. Almost all the copies printed were seized and set on fire. The release of the book had been marked by protests and the government was convinced that it would offend the sensibilities of society.

Written by four young firebrands—Sajjad Zahir, Ahmed Ali, Rashid Jahan and Mahmuduzzafar—Angarey comprises nine stories and a play. ‘Heaven Assured’ pokes fun at a moulvi’s excessive piety, while ‘Masculinity’ effectively uses the interior monologue to skewer patriarchy. The stories ‘A Night of Mahavatt, the Winter Rain’ and ‘The Clouds Don’t Come’ are brilliant instances of the stream-of-consciousness technique being used to evoke an epic desolation and the uselessness of religion as a prop when faced by grinding poverty.

Angarey, the book which invited one of the earliest bans on free speech in India, and a precursor of the Progressive Writers’ Movement, was re-published in Urdu in 1995. Sensitively and brilliantly translated, this is the first time that the book is being published in the English language.

Review – The book has a cover suiting it’s title perfectly and the biggest irony is, the title Angarey (burning charcoal pieces) came to life when the book was released with the controversy the stories sparked.

The book sheds light on the history, social beliefs and the circumstances that brought about the banning of Angarey in the 40 page introduction that precedes the short stories. I think the introduction could have been limited to fewer pages, because it did steal my enthusiasm to read the book.

The short story collection wonderfully defies the social conventions and also brings to light the unsaid. The short stories featuring in this collection throw light on sexual desire, its repression and how restrictions, whether social or religious affect the human mind. The stories are first person narratives bringing out the intricate details of the mindset, beliefs and social settings prevalent in those times with most unexpected twists and views.

I wish to congratulate the authors for the effort put to understand religion, society, gender, customs, sensitively.  The modern outlook in the approach of short stories didn’t fail to amaze me. The authors have vented their dislike for the putrid customs and beliefs that treated women as mere objects of recreation and procreation with no respect spared for them.

Reading this book has been a journey through a century of social beliefs written with modern outlook that adds a spark of optimism to the stories highlighting the stinking social beliefs. The sad part being, some of those social beliefs are still prevalent in today’s times.

The translation is good and the foreword is written by Nadira Babbar the daughter of Sajjad Zahir one of the prominent figures of the Progressive Movement.

About the Author: Dr Vibha S. Chauhan – teaches English at the Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi.
Dr Khalid Alvi – teaches Urdu at the Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi.

Rating : 3/5

The Pen Warriors – Post 11

The Team Logo
The Team Logo

Too Late For Atonement – Chapter -10

Read the previous parts of the story here –  Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3Chapter 4 , Chapter 5 Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.

Jennifer felt the burden of her father’s betrayal wear her down. The boil of rage had made her decide she needed to go to Mumbai and confront him. He was the pivot around whom miseries of her life revolved. But deep within, her heart lurched in anxiety.

She wanted to protect the fond father-daughter moments from tarnishing in the spew of acid she felt fill her up. She was battling the conflict that though her father was a hardcore businessman at heart, he couldn’t have traded his family’s joy for a momentary fling. However, temptations have a way of making the unwilling spirit give into the weaknesses of the body.

Jennifer felt her fury give way to reasoning. The doting daughter in her, wanted to give her father a benefit of doubt. But, the facts in her hand, the diary, the torn photograph, her mother’s silent suffering, were clues enough to hint a grave secret. She had to unearth the ploy.

While she waited for the travel agent to revert with her flight details, she decided to keep the iniquitous thoughts at bay watching TV. She flipped through channels without waiting to note what was on air. From MTV to FTV to Food Food to Surya TV to Cartoon Network she navigated through all, without stopping for longer than a blink.

A smile of familiarity rose to her lips as she stopped to see what Daya was up to in CID, but her mind wasn’t ready for any more drama than that was already on in her life. She decided to switch to news channels. The weather report was on air, predicting heavy rainfall in the coming 15 days. Jennifer’s mind wandered to the jokes she and her friends cracked on the meteorological department. If they say it’ll rain heavy, possibility of a drought was way higher.

Jennifer was about to change the channel when a breaking news interrupted the program. A familiar face claimed to be reporting from the Bombay Hospital in Mumbai, stated that on autopsy of a badly disfigured body found near the Pune- Mumbai Expressway, it was revealed to belong to a celebrated businessman from Kochi.

Jennifer’s heart jumped into her throat, pounding so loud that she could hardly hear the name. Moisture welled her eyes making it impossible to read the news as it streamed past in the lower border of the screen.

The remote slipped from her grip with a thud, waking her from the trance. For the first time in her life, she thanked the News channel for being repetitive about the breaking news, a fact she loathed and never failed to frown upon.

Her curse had come true. It was the news of her father’s death. Joesph Kurien. Soon the clouds of overwhelming emotions gave way to a fiendish smirk. Things were beginning to fall in place.

*******************************************************************************

“Cut it…..”, shrieked Tara, for the twenty-first time. She wasn’t able to concentrate on the shoot and something major was amiss from the diaper advertisement she was working on.

Working with child artists is quite challenging. Frequent retakes only add to the difficulty, making the child go crankier by the minute. Tara just couldn’t concentrate. Memories of Roohi’s childhood would come gushing through the flood-gates as soon as the camera started rolling.

Tara decided to let her assistant take over for the shoot, stepping out to find peace with a cup of black coffee. She darted to her cabin but the team noted in horror stream of tears tint Tara’s cheeks. It was a first and no one missed it.

In Tara’s mind played the day when Roohi was around a year old and learning to take her baby steps. Shekhar was out-of-town for work and Tara had taken a day off. While she encouraged Roohi to walk, the landline phone rang.

Hoping it to be Shekhar, Tara answered in an excited voice.

“Hello honey…you called at the perfect time. I was about to call you”

Without waiting for a reply, she continued; “You know our Roohi took her first steps this morning” said Tara in a voice full of motherly jubilation.

The other end of the line was quiet. She could hear a cold sigh, light breathing but nothing more than that.

Worried and alarmed Tara blurted out, “Hello….Shekhar….you there?”

The phone line boomed with the baritone of a familiar voice. It didn’t belong to Shekhar. Fear and fury gave her goose-bumps. It was Roohi’s biological father on the line.

Her thoughts were disrupted with, “Tara, I am coming over….”

Before she could react, the line went dead. The engaged tone hit her ear-drums like the blare of rock music threatening to deafen her.

She wanted to run away with her precious child. Protect her from his alluring charm that disarmed her every time he was around. She dreaded he might take away Roohi from her. She wanted Shekhar to return that very minute. His family needed him.

Tara raced to her closet to bring her handbag, checked for money while shoving her phone inside, dashing to pack the baby bag, when the doorbell rang.

She stopped as if shot point-blank. Her game was up. He was here.

The chaos disturbed Roohi and she started crying. Tara thought of escaping from the balcony, but trying to jump down the fourth floor with a year old baby was nothing short of a suicide attempt with murder of an infant at best.

She was cornered. She had to face him, she had to protect Roohi and she had to maintain the sanctity of her marriage.

Overwhelmed by fear, with dwindling determination, she reached for the door that was trembling with fervent knocking.

She asked in a bleak voice “Who is it?” which was answered by the thumping growing louder.

Putting the safety chain lock, she opened the door.

“It’s me Aryan…Aryan Ahuja….your neighbor”

“Oh it’s you….then why didn’t you reply when I asked who was it?” mumbled Tara trying to catch on her breath and wiping  the sweat off her brow.

“Oh! Did you ask? Sorry… I didn’t hear you ask Mrs. Dutta and I heard Roohi wailing. With you not answering the doorbell, I got little worried that’s why I was hammering your door”

“Actually…” said Tara while racing her mind to come up with an excuse.

“Actually?” asked Aryan with suspicion, his favorite emotion painted over his face and a spiked brow.

“Err…actually I am not well, I have been vomiting, that’s why Roohi was feeling alarmed and started crying” said Tara heaving a sigh of relief and acting to wipe off her face.

“Oh…” said Aryan with an unconvinced look.

“Can I help you with anything? Medicine maybe?” Aryan was trying to assess the situation probing his eyeball through the narrow crevice the chain lock allowed.

“Oh no…thank you Aryan, but I am fine…I have the medicine…please don’t worry”

“Mrs. Dutta are you trying to push me away?” said Aryan rather bluntly with a mocking smile.

While Tara struggled, a tall figure silhouetted behind Aryan.

“She’s expecting me. Would you please excuse us?” boomed the figure.

Aryan turned to look who it was. Tara was left with no choice but to hastily shove him inside before Aryan could pick any unwanted cues.

Read the next part here : Chapter 11

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The Pen Warriors – Post 6

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Too Late For Atonement – Chapter 5

 Read the previous parts of the story here –  Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 

“Mom are you again not going to attend the sports day?”

“Sorry darling, I can’t leave the photo shoot, something urgent has come up.” said Tara, desperately looking for a way to end this oft repeated drama, without a meltdown. She tried to be free for Roohi’s important day….but….

“Mom are you there?” said Roohi in a flustered tone

“A ….yes, listen Roohi… don’t be sad sweetheart, Daddy is going to be there to cheer you and he will be making a video too, so I won’t miss anything really”

“I am sure, this time too you’ll win the race.”

“Good lu…..”

Just as Tara was about to wish Roohi good luck, she heard the call end. Tara knew Roohi was upset and she will have to make it up to her soon.

Heartbroken, fuming with rage Roohi threw the mobile on the bed and began sobbing on her satin pillow.

Tara reacted no differently. She slammed her phone on her desk almost cracking the glass of her workstation.

It was times like these, when she hated her work the most. What good was this success and money going to yield, when she couldn’t be there with her family when they wanted her around.

A tear formed in the corner of her eye when her phone buzzed and she was back to business.

“Mom loves her work more than me and dad seems to be smitten with his PC. Nobody cares about how I feel, what I want in life.”

Roohi broke into loud sobbing that attracted Shekhar’s attention. He walked up to her room and gently knocked at the half open door, before stepping inside. One look at his princess and he knew what possibly could have gone wrong.

He gently stroked her hair tied in ponytails that eased her sobbing. In no time she hugged Shekhar. An understanding silence filled the air, where the hearts of a doting father and a hurt daughter wished the pain could vanish magically.

Shekhar’s creative mind was frantically looking around the room for inspiration on how to console her daughter, just when the digital photo-frame came to his rescue.download

“Roohi, you look so pretty in your mom’s shoes.”

Startled, Roohi lifted her head from Shekhar’s chest to follow his gaze and they both burst out laughing. Shekhar had meant it literally, because Roohi and Tara had the same shoe size. It amazed everyone as to how a 9 year old could have a foot as large as her mother. But nature had designed it in her favor. Her shoe size gave Roohi the freedom to flaunt her mom’s  exquisite shoe collection of Jimmy Choo, Caprice, Gerry Weber and more like a diva. While giving them both the liberty to quote that they had walked in each others shoes to know where the other was coming from.

The picture had Roohi crowned ‘Miss Universe’ in the school fashion night, where her beauteous elegance showered her with admiration and compliments galore.

Shekhar suddenly felt in control of the situation, but at the back of his mind he knew, he had to do some serious talking with Roohi to guide her emotions.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” introspected Shekhar.

“Roohi… why are you so upset? You should be excited for the race later in the day”

“Dad… mom is again not going to make it to school, she keeps finding excuses to not be with me”

Shekhar bit his tongue to resist telling Roohi that it was not the case.

“Roohi, look at those pictures, see Tara is with you in most of them, isn’t she?”

Shrugging off the idea of another long lecture, disapprovingly Roohi muttered, “So what dad?”

“You aren’t getting the depth of what I have been trying to show you. If you look closely at these photographs, you’ll see mom has been with us, with you, as often she could”

“But dad, all my friends have their moms around all the time, they accompany them to school on all PTMs and are there to cheer for all practice sessions, when I am left craving for my mom”

Tears trickled down Roohi’s eyes piercing Shekhar’s heart like spears.

“Honey, if your mom isn’t around, I always am. Ain’t I?”

“Do any of your friend’s dads accompany them for practice sessions? Do they bake yummy cakes like I do? Best of all, does any of your friend’s dads take their daughters for shopping dresses and shoes like I do? Hmmm…?”

Roohi’s face lit up with the mention of cake and shopping, she was already feeling better, but her mind was determined to rebel.

“No dad, that is all that you do for me, how does that bail out mom?” retorted Roohi

Shekhar knew this was the make or break point. He had to score a win today, to have his little darling come to love the life she’d been gifted.

“Haven’t mom always come racing to your rescue when your pranks have led to serious trouble?”

Shekhar could read that Roohi was beginning to make sense of what he was saying, he continued, “Like you crashed Rohan’s computer last week and had pushed Mrs. Juneja in the pool in the party……remember?”

Roohi looked happy reminiscing the joy those pranks had brought to her. Shekhar could see realization dawn on her face.

“Look there Roohi, has any of your friends been to Disneyland for a vacation?”

Shekhar eyed Roohi to read the impact. Her eyes were twinkling with joy as she looked at her picture with Minnie Mouse, but she didn’t look convinced yet.

Without waiting for her to find a way to break the spell, Shekhar continued;

“Does any of your friends have had Ranbir Kapoor….’The’ Ranbir Kapoor wish them personally on their birthday?”

Roohi’s heart melted. The mere mention of Ranbir was enough to make her forget all grudges.

“Dad…” muttered Roohi, blushing and holding Shekhar tight in a bear hug.

“Now… without wasting a moment, get ready for the race. You’ve got to welcome mom home with a medal, don’t you?”

Roohi nodded an enthusiastic yes, before darting to the bathroom.

Shekhar thanked Ranbir for saving his family yet another time. Had Tara not been shooting for an ad film with Ranbir on Roohi’s birthday, this life-saver magical moment wouldn’t have happened.

A smirk rose to Shekhar’s lips, as he thought of the Disneyland vacation he had just mentioned to Roohi. Roohi thought her mom had fixed the trip, Tara thought, Shekhar’s clients in US had organized it, but only he knew where the money flew in from.

The subsequent parts of the story can be found here : Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.

Me and my team, The Pen Warriors, are participating in the ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.