Tuesday, February 23, 2021

What is True Love - Poem


                                            #thedrowningpoemsoflove #virtualpoetryprompt


What is that onrush, deep within, that sets your heart beating?

Palms turn clammy; the breath quickens, engine-like, relentless,

The sight of someone sinks a thunderbolt into your stomach,

Eyes widen and lips quiver; the world lights up, incandescent.

Is that what true love does to you?

When the world gazes on with an enigmatic smile,

Having seen the same reactions ten thousand times before,

You flounder in a sea of emotions, each wave threatening

To pull you under; to pull you asunder; and yet, you hang on,

Desperately wanting to hold on to every passing straw.

Is that what true love is?

When one strong sinewy hand, held out, pulls you ashore,

You gasp in relief, hang on and then let go, safe on the shore,

Where a lighthouse beckons, its lone eye casting its glance around

The treacherous waters to guide you and myriad others to safety.

Now that must be true love, no doubt.

Yet, once the shore is reached you are on your own,

Dry and protected, you stand on the sand, your feet a-quiver,

Waiting in anticipation, unsure of how to move forward,

The hand stretches out, grazes your fingers, a gentle caress,

And in a blinding flash that lights up the sky and earth,

You know the truth…this is true love.

 This poem won the first prize in  a Literary Event powered by Chrysanthemum Chronicles titled The Drowning Poems of Love.



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Creation - A Poem

                                                                     Artist: Ananya Aloke

                                                             #butterflydance #100words


The artist looked his Muse and smiled,

How ethereal she was, he thought;

Her eyes were closed, as though beguiled

By a dream, in her net-like memory caught.

Ruby-red, her lips glistened in the light,

Her marble face with its crown of golden hair,

With orange streaks reaching out into the night,

The cosmos leant over to kiss her, as did the air;

Shimmering around her in a mantle of every shade,

She smiled back, aware of his adoring gaze,

Luscious greens, airy blues, and sparkling jade,

Yellows setting her lustrous hair ablaze.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021




I cannot forget the shocked expression on the young dentist’s face.

“Where are all your teeth?”

“Uhh… in my mouth, where they should be?” I mumbled, perched on the leather chair as he peered into my mouth.

His eyes widened with bewilderment as he leant forward, almost falling into the gaping cavern in front of him.

“Three missing here… three on the other side! Two more here and a broken tooth!”

I was quite shocked out of my wits. Where had all my teeth disappeared to? I did recall a few sittings earlier where some of my wisdom had been yanked out, but eight and a half teeth? I was a walking miracle! More importantly, an ‘eating’ miracle! When my better half agonised over one painful grinder that made life (and mealtimes) miserable, here I was, chewing away at everything in sight with not a care in the world.

The mystery deepened. Had I swallowed my teeth unwittingly? The X-ray of my mouth reminded me of the exhibit I had seen of a dinosaur skeleton in a museum. Its mouth had a couple of teeth, then a huge gap, then a few more teeth.

The dentist was still explaining about how I could recover my losses.
“You could have dentures, if you like. Those gaps will begin to trouble you when you are older.”

Visions of dentures floating in glasses came to my mind. All four of my grandparents had boasted of pearly dentures. Come night, they would take them out with a click, painstakingly brush them, almost as if they were polishing silver. Then they would slide them into a glass of water and switch off the lights. My sisters and I would stare in fascination as they glinted in the dimness, almost as if they were grinning at the world.


There was a lull in the conversation. The dentist was waiting for me to give my verdict. “I don’t think I am old enough for dentures,” was trembling at the tip of my tongue, when suddenly I remembered a teenaged friend of mine who had had two of her front teeth knocked out in a fall. She had two teeth put in and she could slide them in and out with one flick of her tongue.

I was not going to take a chance with dentures. If my real teeth had disappeared without a trace, what hope was there for dentures? I did not trust them one bit, sneaky little critters!

“Oh, but you can go in for fixed dentures,” came the prompt rejoinder. “They will be attached, immovable assets, if I may say so. They will be placed in the gaps. You will not even know they are there.”

“Fill in the blanks, huh?” the teacher in me couldn’t resist retorting.

“Expensive?” my husband asked warily.

“Slightly, but it will be worth it finally!” the dentist answered.

By now, the real reason why we had come to the dentist had been pushed into oblivion – my husband’s tooth which required a root canal treatment. My non-existent teeth had taken centre-stage.

The young man was extremely patient. He answered all our queries without batting an eyelid. If the gaps had be filled, he would need to take the measurements and create a set of brand-new teeth in ceramic or some such material. I pondered over whether I should go in for a couple of gold teeth but felt that they would be too distracting in the long run. Or I could be ‘crowned’ – the next option!

                                                                     Deposit photos

Ceramic? My over imaginative mind envisioned something akin to a mini wash basin inside my mouth. Wasn’t that the first thing that came to mind when the word ‘ceramic’ was mentioned? I didn’t even want to think of the second thing that sprang to mind.

“Think over it and come back.” It was a big decision, both for my mouth and for our pockets.

Back home, my husband lost no time in informing everyone he knew and didn’t know) that my teeth had disappeared without letting me know. Every single one of them reacted in the same fashion – they split their sides laughing. My ‘crowning’ glory was the butt of all jokes.

Once the laughter had subsided, the discussions began.

To fill or not to fill?

Or let Nature take its own path, and react when the roof of my mouth fell in? Hyperbole?

Whatever the reason, I decided to let things be. After all, I had the Bard himself on my side when he spoke about the Seven Ages of Man from his popular play ‘As You Like It’. After waxing eloquent on the schoolboy, the lover, the soldier, the judge, he moves on to the last stage of life:

'Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.'

I rest my case!





Sunday, January 3, 2021



“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Charles Dickens could have been speaking of 2020 when he began ‘The Tale of Two Cities’, a book that remains one of his masterpieces.

It was, no doubt, the worst of times! The world watched, helpless and horrified, as a tiny virus sneaked into its timeline, and wreaked havoc globally. No country was spared, as the whole of humanity went through a series of emotions – bewilderment, disbelief, understanding and finally, the realization that this was the mother of all challenges. Lockdowns creaked into place, masks came into being, sanitizers sold like hot cakes and social distancing became the new mot juste of the times.

Countries closed their doors, flights were stopped, travel became a rarity. The moment a glimmer of hope was seen, it was quickly scotched by the eager beavers who believed that nothing could go wrong, behaving disgracefully till things actually went wrong under their very noses. Often, it was innocent bystanders, who were standing nowhere in the vicinity, who were dragged in, unwittingly. All in all, it was a glum scenario with no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. For the virus, which mutated and rose in potency, could have been hiding in the very same tunnel.

Yet, in many ways, it could also be termed the best of times, or at least the best in these trying times. Education turned completely online, and students, teachers and parents scrambled on to the band wagon, trying to tune their systems to keep up with the times. While teething problems were galore, slowly new skills were learnt and across the globe, people started coping. The resilience of the human spirit came to the fore, as it adapted to a brand-new world of computers, online meetings, and a tech savvy scenario.

Life had turned turtle for us personally as well. We were all set to go abroad to meet our precious grandchildren when suddenly, all flights were cancelled, and a lockdown imprisoned us within the country. That was heartbreaking, and yet, there was nothing we could do about it. Millions were in the same position.

As a writer, however, this was a particularly fruitful period for me, and for several of my writer friends. Our creative juices bubbled in a cauldron of literary activity, and our publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee, and his talented editor, Indrani Ganguly, made sure that they added on their own potent elements to spur us on. Hence, Readomania brought out seven anthologies on myriad themes, and all of us, literary comrades-on-arms made sure that we burnt the midnight oil and wrote for most of them. I was thrilled to find my stories nestling within five.

2020 will always be the COVID year for all of us. However, it will also remain the landmark year for me personally when I was able to bring out two solo books as well. The first whetted my appetite for thrillers stories and was an anthology titled ‘Where Shadows Follow – Tales that Twist and Turn’. (Readomania)

The next series, again from Readomania, was an absolute turnabout and a book for children – 'Classic Tales from the Panchatantra’. These initially came out as four volumes of five stories each, and then as a compilation of twenty stories in one volume. I loved working on them and what was especially heartwarming was that my publisher gave me a chance to draw the illustrations for each of the stories, along with my daughter, Priyanka. There we were, going back in time, when we used to doodle on bits of paper and both of us enjoyed the experience thoroughly. My granddaughter, Zoya, inspired by her mother’s sketches, sat down and drew the cutest little lion ever, which went into the dedication of the books.

It was then that a dear friend, Sangeetha Shinde, called me up and asked me if I would be part of an anthology of gritty women’s stories, many of whom were survivors of abuse in one form or the other. God having been kind to me, I have never faced such a scenario, and instead, I wrote about my life as an Army wife, along with its joys and tribulations, all in verse form, for that was the format of the whole book. It was a powerfully moving book and celebrities like Kabir Bedi, Shreekumar Varma, Suhasini Maniratnam and many others were part of its nationwide launch.

A fitting finale for the year was working on ten stories adapted from Shakespeare’s plays for children. The stories were done by November and were sent out to various young beta-readers, who perused them and let me know what appealed to them, and what didn’t. A few more readings and hopefully, that will be another piece of my heart out there for public viewing.

As December, my birthday month came around, and Christmas after, it was time to make a gesture of gratitude. As a giveaway, I decided that I would gift copies of my earlier book, 'Shadow in the Mirror' to reader friends and acquaintances. 

As the New Year begins in earnest, it is only fit that I offer gratitude to all those who made the year that has gone by bearable.

So, thank you, to my incredible husband, my amazing daughter and son-in love, and my adorable grandchildren for fostering joy within me,

My two wonderful mothers, sisters, brothers-in-love and numerous nephews and nieces for having made me smile through the difficult times,

My intrepid publisher and his team who encouraged me and my never-tiring literary companions and writer friends who wrote and read along with me,

My colleagues at school and my students who constantly wrought magic by doing impossible things,

And, of course, all my friends, online and offline, who have always held my hand, encouraged me whenever I have posted anything, and helped me climb mountains…

Finally, to the Universe for having conspired to make things happen!

You know who you are, and you are all wonderful… thank you!

Saturday, January 2, 2021



‘The Red Notebook’ introduces the readers to the kind of stories that nestle within this slim volume. Ganapathy and Sheila, and their children, Arjun and Meera, arrive at Chennai from London to spend time with a recently bereaved Mallika, Ganapathy’s mother. Two worlds are juxtaposed here and the traditional and the modern overlap in the most unexpected ways, with the help of a fascinating red notebook. The final paragraph stays in the mind, poignant yet joyous.

Sibling rivalry is the theme of story number two titled ‘Jaipur, With Love’, in which Pandurangan, the unlikely hero with “an innocent goodness that made people dote on him,” travels from Kanyakumari to Jaipur. His quest is buoyed up with a burning vengeance within his heart. As he meets various people up North, the tale keeps the reader wondering if he will achieve his end, almost resembling a Malayalam movie with its numerous references.

In the third story, ‘Karuppasamy’s Secret’, a quaint little mystery is played out, whetting the readers’ appetites. Right from Karuppasamy, the protagonist, his “veteran employee”, Murugan and the mild-mannered Sarvesh who was “the punching bag between management and the staff” to the “devout traditional” Pankajam and the “charming and mysterious” Lathika, the characters play their roles with flair, right till the piquant end.

‘Arriving in Chennai’ reveals how archaic mindsets get dissolved when love takes over in a city that was never expected to be one’s own, as in the case of Amit who moves from UP to Chennai, and finds his life turning over.

Nithya Rajagopal’s panache in the writing craft is revealed in the seeming simplicity of her stories which handle the most complex of themes with ease. Prepare to receive a ticket to love when you muse over these four delightful stories along with a samosa and a hot cuppa!







What is True Love - Poem

                                                                     Dreamstime.com                                             #thedrowning...