Friday, 16 March 2018


The eastern sky is lit in a resplendent orange hue. Everything under the sky – human or inanimate – is bathed in the beautiful bounty of Mother Nature. The cold air of the night is giving way to the gentle, warm breeze of a bright dawn.

The village wakes up to another day, only, that day was different, for it brings with it a man, a dark silhouette in the backdrop of a rising sun bleeding an orange tint all around. Silhouettes do not speak much, but what this one said was a lot. Long, shoulder-length, unkempt hair, a long thin staff in one hand, and knee-length loincloth around the waist, are not a common sight for the villagers.

Workers preparing to leave for tilling, housewives sweeping and watering their front yards and drawing colourful rangolis, and others just lazing in front of their homes look quizzically at the figure walking towards them in the dusty street.

As the figure approaches them closer and closer, the picture becomes clearer and clearer for the villagers. A tall lanky man in knee-length coarse cotton loincloth around the waist, and with long unkempt tresses parted in the middle, does not walk but gently glides through the street at a snail’s pace. The stranger accosts everyone whom he comes across.

A village elder greets him back and asks, “Who are you and where from are you, stranger?”

Politely refusing the offer of a seat, the stranger says, “I am from everywhere.”

“What is your name?”

“Whatever you call me by. You called me stranger. So be it.” The stranger smiles.

“Who are your parents?”

“With my biological parents safely in heaven, God Almighty is my father and mother.”

“Your answers are intriguing. They do not tell anything about you.”

“I am an open book. All answers are in it. It is up to the reader to read.”

“What do you do?”

“Bring peace to ravaged souls; at least, I try to.”

“Are you going to stay here?”

“Do you want me to? Is there a need?”

“I don’t know, but people are unhappy, in general.”


“I don’t know.”

“Is it only here or at other places, too?”

“Everywhere, I guess.”

“Have you heard of the universal axiom, ‘a contented man is a happy man’?”

“Our parents used to tell us about contentment.”

“So, what happened?”

“We forgot all that somewhere on the way.”

“Why? You have progressed much with all the technology at your disposal.”

“That’s what we all thought.”

“So, what happened?”

“Everything went awry. Our problems only increased and happiness decreased in an inverse proportion.”


“There used to be plenty; food grains, water, clean air and, above all, time. We used to spend much time with our families.”

“And, now?”

Sigh…sigh…“Stranger, you look familiar. Are you from Bethlehem?”

The stranger smiles. “Maybe.”

“Or from Mecca, or Lumbini, or Porbandar, or Atlanta?”

“I am from wherever you want me to be from.”

“You have told us nothing about you.”

“I am no stranger to you although you call me by that name. I am born in every age in every place. I was born in Dwapara yug in a jail cell in Mathura. I was born in every place that you mentioned - Mecca, Lumbini, Porbandar, and Atlanta. I look familiar to you because you have seen me in every epoch. In every epoch, I was killed by tyrants and zealots…because I loved nonviolence and peace …because I preached nonviolence, love, and peace…because I practised nonviolence, love, and peace. I will be killed now, too. I will be born again and shall be killed again by another tyrant. I strive to bring a reign of nonviolence, love, and peace on God’s beautiful earth. That is my mission given to me by the Almighty.”

“Now, I find nothing but hatred and strife on this pathetic planet. You mentioned ‘plenty’. Where have those ‘plenties’ gone? I find that one who asks the inconvenient question is exterminated by any available means – dog-bone whip, crown of thorns, spear, guillotine, lion, bullet, dagger, sword, fire, or bomb. There is paucity for everything - food, water, clean air, and, above all, love. Greed rules this planet now. I am striving to bring peace, at least to one human, one family. I admit, I am finding it difficult. Labours of Hercules are childsplay compared to mine.

“You spend billions on deadly armaments when a huge chunk of population does not have a morsel to eat, a rag to cover their bodies, or a slate to write upon. You forget that the earth is but one nation. You perpetuate the mistake of Babel. You, with your ingenuity, make it worse for personal gains. You divide populations on religious, caste, class, and colour lines. You exterminate six millions of a particular sect, for you attribute reasons for all your failures to them. You do not use your knowledge for peaceful and progressive purposes but create deadly nuclear and chemical weapons and exterminate thousands and thousands of innocent populations. You practise and preach apartheid and untouchability.

“You introduce religious insanity and mercilessly slay thousands, while you let millions suffer without food, water, and clean air. You pollute the ground, the water, and the air, which God Almighty has bestowed upon you. You give your children’s hand deadly weapons instead of a pencil. You give in your children’s stomachs killer drugs instead of a glass of milk. You worship goddesses yet you treat women as vassals. You deny them education, freedom, and basic human dignity. You lust for them and use them as sex objects.

“This is the only planet where millions of such unique life forms exist. Your lifestyle destroys thousands of species every day. Millions of lives are lost regularly stricken by floods, drought, storms, avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, and tidal waves. The salubrious climates created by God Almighty are eroded. Your seasons are changing, thus creating havoc in human life.

“Yet, you do not learn from your mistakes, either as individuals or as nations. You rescind the cosmic philosophy that your generation has merely borrowed the earth and the universe from your children’s generation. You degrade the environment as if there is no tomorrow. You do not even realise that it is your children and their children who suffer. Babies are born with incurable breathing diseases. Yet you are blind to reality.

“Wake up at least now, for there is no tomorrow for this planet. Spread peace and love. Follow the path shown by the pacifists of yore. Follow the simple philosophies propounded by them. How can I help you if you do not help yourself? Let charity begin at home. Let reform begin with one human – yourself. Let it begin now.”

The village elder was silent for long minutes.

“Are you a messiah?”

“Why do you need a messiah to tell you what to do?”

“Are you a pagan? To which religion do you belong?”

“Oh my God! I cannot help these people. Take me unto thee, never to return.”

“He teaches us wrong philosophies. He insults our gods. He is an atheist. Stone him, stone him to death…” The chorus grows.

Then fall the stranger.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018


Psst…a personal secret. Do not reveal it to anyone. Okay?

Horror stories and movies frighten me, even at this age.

The stories I read and the movies I saw during my youth (sigh…sigh…sooo looong ago…) were ineffective (most of them I did not understand, anyway).

Even “Rose Mary’s Baby”, Roman Polanski’s all-time classic that was considered the best ever horror movie, had no effect on me, for I did not understand it, then. I was not much into reading English novels or watching English movies those days.

Then, I came across two of the best movies in the genre, William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist” and David Seltzer’s “The Omen”. Many more came and went, many more will come and go, but they will all remain but puny pathetic patches on these two. Even the sequels paled in comparison to these two.

While I regard “The Omen” to be in the genre of frightening supernatural stories, I place “The Exorcist” in the genre of pure, unadulterated horror. It frightens the daylights out of me, even today. This being the case, when I myself took to writing, how can I not be inspired by it? Tell me.


With this backdrop, I continued my journey towards my next station. I longed to pay tributes to William Peter Blatty through the medium of a horror story. Thus came into being my “OUIJA ADVENTURE”.

There isn’t much of suspense in it but an attempt at horror. Pazuzu, a daemon in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, became my prop, as it did with William Peter Blatty. Remember, this was the daemon, which possessed and tormented the little American girl, Regan Teresa MacNeil. However, my story does not enter the realm of possession or exorcism. It is much simpler than that.

A group of four school friends with a grossly misplaced sense of adventure decides to experiment with an Ouija board and invoke the daemon Pazuzu. The experiment goes horribly out of control and the four friends meet with terrible consequences.

I kept the narration simple without going overboard with the supernatural and horror stuff. This narrative style of mine may be the reason why many readers feel my writings to be anaemic :( . You tell me.

I gave the story an open-ended denouement. Does it mean that there could be a sequel, say OUIJA ADVENTURE-II? Who knows, there could be. In fact, there was, a year later. However, that is food for later thought. Let us, at present, enjoy the first Ouija Adventure; be spooked would be a better of expression.

Well, see you later, friends, boo… ;-)


Friday, 23 February 2018


The next station in my journey was “Mission Accomplished (Over and Out).” Sounds like Forces’ language, right? Right, it is.

My knowledge of the Armed forces and their operations was/is rudimentary, derived from books and movies. I was, am, and will always be in awe of the Forces and their selfless sacrifices to the cause of preserving and protecting our nation. I wanted to express this sentiment and my gratitude to them through this short story.

The story itself was a simple one. A Captain is assigned an important task of blowing away an army fuel and ammunition storage yard of the enemy (guess who). How he and his two junior officers of the team achieve it forms the story.

You are right. What is great about this story? We have read innumerable books and watched innumerable movies on the subject, maybe better ones. My purpose behind this narrative was different from the ostensible one of army action. I have realised long ago that I eat, sleep, and live under the protective blanket of safety provided by our armed forces. Period. As a common man, I do not get a chance to acknowledge this fact and say, “Thanks,” every day and hence, this story. In fact, I made my point directly by the statement of the Defence Minister, which goes thus: “…It is because of your vigil at our borders that we citizens are able to sleep fearlessly and peacefully in our homes across this great nation…We are beholden to you…”

My purpose achieved, I went on to add a twist, a huge twist, to the story. This is based on the key phrase - “…in our homes across this great nation…” - of the Defence Minister’s speech. I brought this out through a name, Alka. I admit to you that this became inscrutable and caused immense confusion even at the draft stage. Even my near and dear could not understand my point. I thought, ‘This is disastrous,” and went on to amend it by adding two place names. Even the amended version was confusing but spoon-feeding was anathema to me; it still is and will always be. The reader is intelligent and smart.  She/he must understand it on her/his own.

The story received a modest readership (Reads: 248 and no likes and comments till date). Follow the link I furnished at the beginning of the post to read the story. I hope you enjoy it.


I am a student of Late Alistair MacLean. He is a great influence on me through, what I call his “descriptive prose” and his deliberately paced action sequences. This story relies less on the spoken word and more on imagery and descriptive prose. I sincerely hope that you like it.

Oops…I almost forgot to mention something important (to me, at least).

In this series, I am posting my short stories in the chronological order. I request you to follow the series carefully. It will give an insight on how the writer in me evolved (if at all) over a period of time. Who knows? One of my readers may even find it useful! Unreasonably hopeful, eh?

See you again with my next post. Until then stay safe, folks.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Leave behind the long, continue in shorts…oops…short, I mean!

Having gained a semblance of confidence in writing in the short(er) format I moved on into fiction writing.

The title chosen by me was “Till Death Do Us Unite”. The phrase “Till Death Do Us Part” had always intrigued me. It is a vow, which a Christian couple takes at the time of wedding. It means that nothing other than one partner’s dying can end the marriage or separate them.

While the vow is for living married couple, my story has a twist, which is not revealed till the very end. It was all rather complicated in the beginning and I did not decide upon the title initially. Finally, what I wanted to convey through my story – i.e. the husband and wife are united by death – gave me the title!

To end my verbal diarrhea on a philosophical note, it is widely believed that, in every human, there is a soul (atma) that is imperishable and eternal. After a human dies, the soul dons another form and is reborn. Until such time, it lingers. So must be the case with the husband and wife of my story, right?

Follow the link given above to unravel the mystery of love-after death!


The next one was “Mission Accomplished (Over and Out).”

Well that is fodder for thought in my next post.

Auf wiedersehen.


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

कल, आज, और कल

कल आज हुआ और आज कल,
आज कल दिल--जिगर हैं बेकल
पल पल  कण कण में है हलचल ,
महबूब हो गया है ओझल
अब  यहां रुक एक पल,
रूह--मजरूह, जहां से चलाचल

         ...श्याम सुन्दर बुलुसु 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


The long and short of it

The initial period immediately after my retirement in 2010 was hectic, what with our having to quit the Government Quarters and move into a rented apartment; I was not bored with me. (It reminds me of a famous quote in Readers Digest, way back in the early seventies. “Keep your company to yourself. If you cannot tolerate it, why inflict it on others?” Ref. OLD AGE and LONELINESS - II).

I was doing some sketching randomly and started getting bored. It was then that my second angel inspired (bullied would be a better choice of word) me into writing (Ref. MY JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF WRITING - II) and the rest, as they say, is history, even if a depressing one as is in my case.

I started to write.

During the period 2010-2012, “Dance of life”, “The Kidnap”, “Embers of the pyre”, “Intersections”, “Misogynist interrupted”, and “Soul mates” came out into existence, in that evolutionary not revolutionary order, albeit in our (me and my family) minds and on the hard disk. They would continue to do so - I mean, exist on the referred places - until 2014, while I got busy with the nitty-gritty of publishing them. (That is a completely different story and I shall deal with it later.)

Given our precarious pecuniary position (aah…a soul-soothing alliteration) I was looking for a “traditional” publisher, which became an obsolete practice and was unavailable, especially for a first-time author. I didn’t even know what “self-publishing” meant! It will not be a hyperbole (Please visit my “I LOVE ENGLISH” page on my Facebook profile) to say that there may be no major publishing house that I did not contact; some responded, many did not. However, the positive fallout of the process was, I learnt what “self-publishing” meant. However, the quest ended there, as self-publishing was expensive and I did not have the required money.


The beginning of period 2012-14 once again saw me drift and slip into depression-causing inaction. My efforts for traditional publishing were not yielding any result, positive result, I mean. Then, purely by chance, I came upon an Internet advertisement on my Facebook page, that of Your Story I gathered details of the process of submission of short stories to them. Despite having written six novels, I was unsure of dabbling in the shorter version of storytelling.

I wanted my debut, my first step into this format of storytelling to be as risk-free as it was with my first novel. A major reason for this diffidence was none of my novels had been published and consequently none of them had been read or scrutinised by editors, readers, et al. Submission for publication on this website meant that the stories would be read; they would be scrutinised by the editor and the readers!  I pondered over the matter again and again for several days. Ultimately, I decided upon the idea of putting on page some of my memorable experiences.

I called my first step into this world, “I-CON ONE”, a simple anecdote of my first experience with a conman. This was accepted, published, and read (Reads: 264 till date) by some; liked and commented upon by a couple of readers. The takeoff was anything but sensational, but it was a takeoff for me in this short-story world. That’s the long and short of it as far as I am concerned.


I-CON TWO” and “THE INTERVIEW”, two more of my memorable experiences, followed. The former was, once again, ‘a simple anecdote of my experience with a conman’, wherein I knowingly allowed a stranger to con me, as I had explained in my story. This attracted a modest readership of 242 till date; there were no comments or ‘like’s. My writing style and the topics probably were too anaemic.

The latter was on a completely different topic, although a personal experience. Inter alia, it dwelt upon the rigours of school admissions. However, that was only the background. The main aspect, the crux was something else. How many times we find little innocent children innovating based on their limited experiences and knowledge! This story was a humorous window to look at my experience. Please read it and you will understand. This story had a better readership of 846 and a couple of likes and comments.

I take liberty with your time and patience to quote another example to support my theory. In 1970 or 1971, I was tutoring my little nephew. (It is a different matter that he is an extremely erudite individual and…grrr…an unflinching critic of my writings. He is an unseen editor of all my novels, by the way; another is my second daughter.) I had taught him some aspects of geography and maps, and a few words like “foreign”, “East Germany” and “West Germany” (yes, they were separate countries then). Sometime later, I found a paper, upon which he had practised writing what he had learnt. I had stomachache laughing at what I had read; “East Germany”, “West Germany”, “East Foreign”, “West Foreign”, etc.


Well folks, I shall stop this post here. I shall exit my personal experiences and enter the world of short fiction in my next.

Be seeing you!


Thursday, 8 February 2018


The word “misogyny” is centre-stage of late.

mi·sog·y·ny  = n. Hatred or mistrust of women.

This is a millennia-old masculine mental malady (sigh…Alliteration, my weakness). No society, oriental or occidental, is untouched by it.

However, that is a topic for another day.


Presently, I shall take you through the labyrinthine path of my own “misogynist”. His misogyny degenerates to such depths that he simply destroys his female victims.

Come, walk with me the dark streets of Chennai and track his perverted mind and moves.

Oh, be careful. Do not dither during the eerie, dark night, for danger lurks on every dusty street, at every dark corner.


To admit a truth, this one genre troubled me no end. Personally, violence against women and children disturbs me deeply. My family (especially my late wife) had a tough time handling me whenever I came across news reports or movie scenes depicting such violence. That being the case, how did/could I undertake such a topic?

At the very outset of my journey into the world of writing, I decided the genres in which I shall write my novels. The other reason was, as a writer I was determined to test my mettle/ability to handle every possible genre/topic. It will be appropriate to quote here the remarks of Mrs. Srichandra Mukherjee Venkataramanan, an ardent reader of my gibberish. She wrote (read THE ANTIQUE):

Sir, I am a ‘Malgudi Days’ kind of reader…having grown up on a staple diet of sleepy villages, rowdy children and characters who are super heroes in the garb of a common man…so this latest offering from you is an absolute delight for me…I loved this story of an extraordinary man wrapped in ordinary …And I also admire the fact that you attempt every genre of writing….be it a thriller, love story or a one with a social message. Good Luck for your next one….


Having decided upon the topics in each genre, I embarked on my journey with my misogynist, however much repulsive the fellow was. With the experience of five novels under my belt, I mean virtual pen, the opening scene was a cinch. My long and wide exposure to English novels and Hollywood movies came in very handy in giving a form to my ideas on this story.

As is my wont, I refrained from the hype that I see around me in movies and TV serials and stuck to a straightforward narration of my narrative. In this aspect, I would like to mention Alfred Hitchcock, the guru of thrillers. Suffice to say that, even after five decades, his movies are unbeatable in suspense and horror, narrated in a simple, straightforward style. Psycho, Rear Window, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Torn Curtain and Dial ‘M’ For Murder are but a few of his straightforward masterpieces.

Moving on in my journey, I had to create the predator’s character, physical personality, background, and modus operandi. The story opens with a murder by the psychopath; the victim is his tenth. While I briefly mentioned the characters of the previous nine victims, Nandini, the tenth victim was different in that the story begins with her murder and, therefore, I had to create her character in detail. It must be believable, down-to-earth, plausible, and match the mindset of the predator, for he chose her as a victim.


Then comes the background of the story itself, the why’s and how’s of it. A tricky scenario arose, for I had already decided to entrust the investigation to a Private Investigator (PI), Mr. Azhzgan, a former IPS officer. This is simply not done in our country. In my “The Kidnap”, I intended to do it but gave up for the same reason. This time around, I hit upon a neutral ground and handed over the case to my PI, the protagonist of the story.

Another aspect I had to handle deftly and as seamlessly as possible was “how the case comes to my PI”. The DCP, who was investigating the previous nine murders, becomes the collateral victim of the serial killer. He is forced to quit the Police Force in ignominy and approaches our PI. You must read the story to appreciate this.

Then, our PI’s organisation, if it could be called that, given its precarious pecuniary position (OMG, Alliteration again), must be believable and credible. I took lot of pains to create the organisation. The style of introduction of the PI and his organisation is completely couched in sardonic humour à la James Hadley Chase - a challenge for me. I had to make the characters and the office, everything in it, laugh at themselves. This flippancy, the sardonic humour was the most difficult for me, especially to convince my readers. As time passed by, and as I got into writing short stories, I acquired a semblance of control over this aspect of writing (Read LIPSTICK, FIRST NIGHT, and CURIOUS CASE OF A MISSING BUTTON).


Well the investigation by my PI progressed smoothly until it hit a roadblock, a seeming cul-de-sac and I hit my first writer’s block. I racked my brain for several days! The story just would not move ahead at all. I was at my wit’s end. I kept going over my (limited) knowledge in matters of criminal investigation. Eureka! Ultimately, I found the solution to the impasse I found myself in! I shall not reveal what it is; suffice it to say that it was an important part of investigative matters. With that important aspect inserted at the appropriate position, the story took off once again and raced ahead to its bone-shattering climax.


Well, that is talking a lot of shop. I shall let you read the novel and judge for yourself.

Happy reading, friends.