Heartfelt Words…the best gift

Damini was the friend of a friend, and I met her at his birthday party. A girl as unlike me as possible. Where I was a nerd, always poring over books and worrying about exams, she was carefree and loved playing sports. She was a wonderful sketch artist. I couldn’t draw to save my life!

Yet somehow, despite our differences and our contrasting personalities, we connected. It was like we were friends in some past life, and when we met in this life, our souls remembered each other, even if our memories didn’t. For two years, while I was still in junior college, we remained good friends. We would meet each other during vacations and after school. Her eighteenth birthday was a few months before our final board exams and bang middle during our preliminary exams. I knew that from next year onwards things wouldn’t be the same. We would move to different colleges, make new friends and lose ourselves in new activities. For a few months maybe we would call each other and talk, but too soon awkward silences would develop. When our lives would change the little link of commonality that we still had would snap. All that would remain is a sweet nostalgia for times past…

I wanted to give her something special for her birthday, something that she could look at 50 years from now, and fondly reminiscence about the bygone days.

A teenager is always short of money. We are a perpetually bankrupt species and our meagre pocket money can barely keep pace with our grandiose dreams. So buying something for her was out of the question, but I did have one thing that I could gift her — my words.

I set my pen to paper, and the words flew out weaving a tale of our friendship, of our memories, of us:

Today, as you are on the threshold of a new journey,

Let us take a short walk back down the memory lane,

Let us sniff the fragrance of our sweet friendship,

Laugh at jokes that once we had shared, shake our heads over the quarrels;

Start from our first trip together to Infinity and Inorbit,

There were just too many French fries weren’t there, and you learned I was an inexorable chocoholic,

Then let us move on to all those evenings we spent together –

Board games, friends, gossip and laughter – what more could one want,

Look at Ranbir Kapoor strumming his guitar, and then look a little further,

Six friends dancing on the road together in the twilight, oblivious to the strange gazes,

Hear the tiger’s growl, and the monkeys’ chatter, as we visit the old caves of ancient Buddhist monks,

Our jeans and T-shirts in sharp conflict to the age-old eternal statues with whom we pose,

Again four friends, journeying in history together, and I doubt whether anyone then or since has passed those silent, eternal statues with a sweeter, more carefree friendship than ours,

Picnicking in the meadow, boating in the sun, with the cool air fanning our cheeks, in a bubble of friendship,

Can there be a better summer’s day?

Look over there, can you see me, with ice-cream on my shirt (clumsy, as always),

Then to the vibrant night, with the deep rumbling of drums and loud music,

As we shake a leg on the dance floor, and I finally learn to dance Dandiya,

Two years gone by in a flash, I never heard them passing, did you?

Rude of them to leave without giving us a chance to say goodbye,

But Time has always been known for being inconsiderable to one and all,

Wherever we go in life from now, even if we part ways,

Remember me, and remember these days, as I will –

Forever Cherish These Days,

Thank You, for making them so special, thank you for being my friend,

So, here is me saluting those days, and a toast to you,

May you have a wonderful life, as sweet as ‘us’

And Happiness forever rule your path, I hope.

Since then I did indeed lose touch with her, but a couple of months earlier I met her at a college fest. We hugged and chatted for a few minutes – nothing like our long late night conversations – but just a minute before she was swallowed up by the crowd, she said, “By the way, I still have your letter…”

I am participating in the #DilKiDealOnSnapdealactivity at BlogAdda in association with SnapDeal.


A No-Brainer

Let’s assume we do, in fact, use only 10% of our brain. If you could unlock the remaining 90%, what would you do with it?

This has to be the easiest prompt I have done till date. The minute I read the sentence the answer popped into my head — WRITE!!! 

I hereby declare that any additional brain power I am ever blessed with will be used primarily for writing. 

Writing is the purest form of expression according to me, and many times I find my vocabulary inadequate to express what I want to say. I know what it is that I want to write but I don’t know how to find the words that will capture it’s essence perfectly.

When I write a birthday message for a friend there is so much that I want to say — so many memories, so much gratitude and loads of love. Words seem paltry to capture all that they mean to me.

I face a similar conundrum when writing a story. How best to translate real-world sensory experiences onto paper? To preserve the fragrance of a jasmine, the coolness of water and the texture of grass using only words. So I guess if I had 90% more brain power to utilize I would spend much of it mulling over this problem.

Though writing shall be my main focus I will also try to utilize a little bit of my new-found intelligence to boost my self-esteem, to not allow jealous criticism and taunts translate into self-doubt.

Who knows, I may just finally find within myself the determination to finally pen down the novel I keep planning to write? 😛

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brain Power.”

My Struggles With Brevity

I love to write.

I love to write a lot……Unfortunately.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother, an English teacher, told me that I should always while writing answers in a literature paper take it for granted that the examiner knows nothing. Explain everything. Provide as much context as possible.

I don’t think even she realized the widespread repercussions her words would have, but since then my answers in the examinations, especially my literature paper, have just grown in size. The smallest answer I ever wrote for an English literature paper was three-quarters of an A4 size sheet! A close friend joked that if I had written the entire Shakespeare play verbatim in the answer sheet my answer would probably be shorter. It wasn’t even that big an exaggeration. For one exam, I remember taking 11 supplements or extra sheets, after finishing the initial 12-page booklet. I would probably have written more, but I was running a mild temperature  that day. The same friend joked, that next year our juniors could probably just bind my answer papers and read it instead of the textbook. It never hurt me however. In my final Literature exam at the end of high school, I wrote more than forty pages and scored 99 out of 100.

Verbosity has always been a loving friend to me. My essays in middle school used to be six-seven pages long, and I would only stop writing, once the final bell had rung, and my teacher had more often than not literally snatched the paper away from me. Writing till the last possible second is a habit I am yet to curb, during exams.

I remember one glorious day in tenth grade when all our lectures had been cancelled  due to some emergency teacher’s meeting, but unwilling to leave us all free for the rest of the day, our teacher had asked us to write a story on the topic ‘I wish I had wings…’ Unsurprisingly, no one in the class did…except me. When in the last period, our teacher came to collect the essays she found that no one had written anything, and the one who had was unwilling to give it. I had written ten pages, but I did not want to submit it yet. I told so to my teacher. Surprised, she urged me to tell her why. After a little pushing, I confessed that I had yet to finish my story….or to begin it one could also say. You see my plot was simple: a young village girl dreams of flying and on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus gifts her the ability to fly, and what she does after that. When my teacher came to collect the stories, I had only written till the part where she dreams of flying, and even Santa Claus’s grand entry was yet to be made. After I had explained this to my teacher, she was speechless for a second, and then groaned, “Archita, you shall be the death of me! Please, please don’t do something like this in your Board examination!” She was afraid I would waste so much time on that one question that I would not have enough time left to finish the rest of the paper. Despite her warning, my essay in my tenth board exams nearly reached twenty pages, but I made sure that I finished the rest of my paper beforehand. Yet this was the first time that I realized that as much as I loved my verbose style of writing with grandiose descriptions, brevity has its own charm.

Since then, I have trimmed my style a lot. I write my answers in bullet points, and try to be as concise as possible…at least in academic examinations. But at home with a pen and a sheet of blank paper in front of me – I run wild. My journals are filled with pages and pages of the day’s account in excruciatingly precise details (this year, I have already finished two 400 page journals. Last year, I used up 3 notebooks as my diaries). My ultimate dream is to write a diary entry so intricately detailed that when I open my journal, ten years from now, I can experience all that I am experienced a decade back with the same intensity that I felt then. Needless to say, I haven’t yet been successful in my attempt, but I am trying hard. I write in as much detail as Time and Memory would permit.

For me, words are the path to immortality. Maybe when I am 80 years old, I shall flip through the yellowed pages of my youth, and through the faded blue scribbles relive once again the forgotten past – laugh at the old jokes, chuckle at a daring prank, fondly remember forgotten friends, and for one moment someday the lines between the Past and the Present would blur. 

My verbosity is well known among my peer groups. My friends might tease me, but I am also pretty much in demand. Whenever someone has an important essay to write, they seek my advice. Sometimes before a literature exam, I have had to turn my phone off, so that I could ward off advice-seekers and study. For friends’ birthdays, I don’t have to waste a lot of time looking for the perfect gift. I usually give my friends a book (usually a personal favorite) with a personalized message inside. For some I might even write a poem, and those few scribbled lines alone often overshadow any extravagant gift anyone else might have bought 😛 On the last day of middle school, I was the one everyone wanted to have their slam books filled by. I remember, a girl with whom I had throughout my school life barely ever seen eye to eye with came up to me with her slam book, handed it to me, and said hesitatingly, “Write something good, ok?” 

Yet as much as I love verbosity, I do believe that brevity has its own utility. Sometimes the lesser you write, the better it is. I love reading and occasionally writing Flash Fiction.

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Earnest Hemingway’s six-word story, written as part of a bet, is according to me more poignant than dozens of thick volumes of tragedy taken together. It is one of my favourite works in literature. The story leaves you wanting more, like any good short story should. You yearn to know more about the individuals who published this notice, but you can’t, and that’s when your brain start filling in the blank space underneath the words. You imagine the pain, the angst of the dead child’s parents. You question yourself is the child really dead? Was it a miscarriage? An abortion? Was she kidnapped? You try to imagine the mother’s pain, the pale face of the father …and the story stays with you, because it has, through its brevity transcended the world of fiction and entered the sphere of reality.

Someday I would love to gain that much mastery over the elusive skill of brevity. But never at the cost of losing my verbose style!

Today’s Daily Prompt: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal          Where do you fall on the brevity/verbosity spectrum?



For today’s creative writing exercise, our teacher asked us to come up with different sets of homophones. Homophones are words that sound similar. For example, here is a list of all the homophones I came up with in class:

Dear, deer
The deer named Rudolph has been a part of this zoo since 1999, and is dear to the zoo keepers’ heart.

Pear, pair, pare
Pare me a pair of pears.

Tail, tale
Every time she came for a visit, my grandmother would tell us the tale of Hanuman’s tail and the havoc it wrecked on Lanka.

Sea, see
Once you see the majestic waves of the sea, you will realize the true meaning of power.

Site, sight
The tourist guide has a detailed list on all the sights and historical sites of the city.

Night, knight
In the dark night the silver armor of the knight shone as brightly as the moon.

Be, bee
As evening approached, the worker bees wondered where the queen bee could be?

There, their
Their group outshone all other teams there.

Wear, where
Yes,  it’s a beautiful dress, but where would you wear it?

Hair, hare
It was the hare’s secret dream to grow a lush mane of pink hair.


15 Quintessential Characteristics of Indian English

Planning a trip to India any time soon? Here are some quirks of the Indian English that you may experience during your stay here:

  1. Prepone – to schedule things ahead of time. An indigenous antonym to ‘postpone’.
  2. Secure marks – In India, we don’t get marks. We secure them. It is a common thing to say, ‘I secured 95%’ instead of ‘I got 95%’.
  3. Gymming – working out in (you guessed it) a gym
  4. Taking Tension – Getting Tense. E.g. ‘You are taking too much tension about this trip’.
  5. Pursuit of studies – It is a common thing to hear someone say, ‘I am pursuing engineering’ or ‘She is pursuing a degree in media’.
  6. Out of station – Not in town. ‘Schedule all my appointments after 10th June. I am going out of station’.
  7. Looking smart – You might hear people tell you, you are looking very smart today. No, they are not using x-ray vision to look at your brain. It is just the same as saying you are looking handsome.
  8. Good name – An indigenious translation of the Hindi word ‘shubh naam’. It is same as asking what’s your name?
  9. Years back – a long time ago. I bought this house many years back.
  10. Na – an added extra emphasis. E.g. ‘you don’t mind, na’ or ‘she likes it na’
  11. Rubber – Don’t worry, it means an eraser. Nothing more 😉
  12. Pass out – Graduate. I passed out from school two years back.
  13. The Hierarchy of Promises – We, Indians have a strict hierarchy of promises. God Promise > Mother Promise > Father Promise. If someone says God promise, it means one must be speaking truth, because no one takes the name of God in vain! Mothers are also very important to Indians. We revere them above all others. Mother promise, is a literal translation of ‘Aai Shapath!’ or ‘Maa Kasam‘, both of which means, that if I am lying may harm befall my mother, something no Indian will ever wish upon his/her mother. Fathers, or ancestors, get the worst deal in this hierarchy, it is true, but even that oath holds a lot of weight! You may lie if you take an oath, failing which harm would befall you, but you can never lie once you take your parents or God’s name.

In a resturant:

14. One by Two – meaning divide the one dish we ordered into two equal portions, for the same price. E.g. ‘we will take sweet corn soup, one by two’. Other variations include: two by four, three by six, etc.

15. It got over – it is no longer available. E.g. ‘the rotis got over’ or ‘the chocolate ice-cream sundae just got over. It will take 20 minutes to make a new one’.

If you think of any more such indigenous usage of English, let me know. Till then, marvel at our quriks. What can I say? We are like this only.





6 Words that I use a lot

‘Words that you use a lot’ – a question I first saw in the once-popular  Facebook app ‘Slambook’, when I was filling one of my friends’ slam book. I remember I left it blank, back then, but it did get me thinking.

Then I came across today’s Daily Prompt. And after much serious contemplation came up with this list of words, I use all the time and every time:

1) Obviously: Obviously, I obviously make rather an obviously obvious use of the obvious word ‘obviously’.

2) Freaking: It is kinda freaking me out the freakish number of freaking times I freaking use the freakish word ‘freaking’.

3) Pathetic: My pathetically pathetic use of the pathetic number of pathetic times when I use the word ‘pathetic’ is really pathetic.

4) Great: After seeing the great number of great times I use the great word ‘great’, you might just greatly comment with great sarcasm ‘Great!’.

5) Boring: To think about the boring number of boring times when I was so bored that I used the word ‘boring’, is boring, and bores the very word ‘boring’.

6) Nice: It is nice, the nice number of nice times I nicely use the nice word ‘nice’ to nicely describe a nice thing or nicely compliment a nice person.