“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”

― Michael Bassey Johnson

These parasites are the Narcissist people that you and I know. And, I know that breed a little too well. I was in love with one for 9 years.

It was the same usual routine. The beginning was great. Caring, sweet, helpful and thoughtful. With time, he started created distance. The first time I confronted him. He said he likes me but does not love me. I am his close friend.

I took it on me to make myself better. To be the kind of person he would fall in love with. I kept silent when he would sleep around. He would not find time for me as he had his commitments elsewhere. After years of being “together” and never admitting that we are, he leaves me for another girl he supposedly “loves”. (same community, fair and good looking).

It took him no time to push me away out of his life. He never took account of the person I am. He never really cared. His only concern was his family and how he can make them happy. This is not wrong. It is nice. But that does not mean he gets the right to hurt whoever he wants. Play with their emotions. Use them for financial gain. That is just wrong!

He has made me bitter. I realized in my ruins that he is arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding.

It was always about him. His problems, his needs.

This is what Narcissist do. I did not know or believe this back then. But if you see the following traits in that special someone, run……….. run as far as you can.

  • Exaggerates own importance in a shy and subtle way.
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance.
  • Believes he or she is special and cannot be understood
  • Requires constant attention and admiration from others
  • Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
  • Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes

He has never turned back to see if I am alive or Ok! And this gave me the strength to seek professional help.

I did, I stronger and I believe in self-love. I feel free. Awake!

Nobody deserves to be with a Narcissist. They need help. But if we do not understand and take measures, we are the ones needing help.

I do not interact with anybody who show the slightest signs of being a Narcissist. And you should not too.

They are addictive and we need to overcome our addictions!

I will just leave you with this:

“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.”

—Karla Grimes


Traffic Signal- A Short Story


You are going to be late again…. He is going to be on my case again today… does that old man have nothing better to do….thought Kaveri to herself rushing down the stairs of her apartment. She hurried down and started her scooty and rode as fast as she could. Navigating through the morning traffic she read a silent prayer that she does have to stop at any signals today… it will save a lot of time….she prayed. But as always the signal turned red. She had to stop. Nervously glancing at her watch she kept thinking… how she can ever manage to make it to work on time. Her time management moment was interrupted with rainbow of colors floating right across her eyes. She looked up to see what it was. They were balloons of different colors and shapes floating in the sky held together by a girl. Kaveri was exported to her childhood… the fun of running …..running very fast to make the balloon fly …… yet holding it tight not wanting to let go of it was a cherished moment for her. She wondered if she could do that ever again in her life. Play and run like a free spirit. The feeling of being a grownup had started to kick in. She thought of how lucky the girl was she could make an earning selling the balloon and when bored could also play with them. She turned her envious eyes on the girl. Just as the traffic signal turned green she noticed the girl …….. her kohl rimmed eyes met the envious eyes of Kaveri.


That look stayed with her. Kaveri could not stop thinking of the kohl rimmed eyes of the balloon girl. She kept thinking to herself what is it that she saw in her eyes was. She reached her office only to find her boss already angry at her for being late.

She immediately took her notepad and pen to enter the ongoing meeting. She dreaded the meetings. She thought to herself I wanted to be a writer and not a corporate dog. I really must take better control of my career. The meeting as always was just numbers and impossible expectations and outrageous plans.

After the meeting… she pinged her bestie to go out for breakfast. They left the office to go out to a roadside kiosk that served steaming hot idlis. The steaming hot idlis can fix any sort of mood she said to her friend. The breakfast and her friends company calmed her down from the tsunami of the morning meeting. Yet she could not stop thinking about the balloons and the girl. She told her bestie what she had experienced. But neither of them could figure of what was the point that Kaveri was stuck on.

The day went on as usual and finally it was time to leave from work. This is the only part of the day I look forward to said Kaveri to her friend…. They bid the goodbyes and Kaveri started her ride back home. She stopped at the same signal again to find the balloons and the girl. Kaveri thought has she not sold any since morning. They look the same! How does she manage her livelihood? Where does she live? Does she have her parents? Does she really spend the entire day on the roads? The balloon girl caught Kaveri staring at her… she swiftly moved towards her and asked Kaveri if she was interested in buying a balloon. Seeing the balloons so close Kaveri was tempted and bought one. She asked the girl her name and the girl responded saying why does she want to know her name? Then just smiled and said my name is Pavitra. Kaveri realized that the signal has turned green and switched on her scooty and left. She was happy to have bought the balloon and kept glancing at it.

After reaching home Kaveri realized she had forgotten to take the change from Pavitra. I always do this… why am I so forgetful? Chuck it what can I do now? I will think I donated that money in a temple… anyways Pavitra is poor na… a little extra money will not hurt her… Kaveri thought to herself.

Next day at the traffic signal again Kaveri was busy looking at the watch and cursing herself for being late. She noticed a tap on her shoulder… she looked up to see Pavitra standing there with her change in her hands. Kaveri said no its ok you keep it…. I cannot take this from you… she then noticed Pavitra’s smile fading from her face. Pavitra quietly said ….. I charged you for the balloon you bought…. If I needed charity I would have been a beggar instead…. If you want to be nice to me … please take the change. Kaveri feeling embarrassed and angry took the change and looked away. That’s so rude… you cannot help poor people in this country. What attitude she has for being a balloon seller! Kaveri sped from the signal as fast as she could trying to calm herself down.

The days went by but Kaveri had not forgotten her humiliation. She kept thinking to herself what did she do wrong that Pavitra was to behave this way. She wanted to confront Pavitra but she thought… she is just a poor balloon girl if I confront her she will know that her words effected me. I cannot do that.

Each day she would see the balloon girl running about the traffic signals to sell the balloons and make a living. Kaveri then decided rich or poor harsh words are harsh words I shall confront her. That evening she decided to stop at the signal and talk to Pavitra. All the way back she kept thinking of the things that she would say to Pavitra. Kaveri reached the signal stopped her scooty near a kiosk and walked towards Pavitra.

Pavitra oblivious to everything cheerfully asked her if she wanted to buy a balloon and asked her what happened to the one she had bought earlier. Kaveri gathered her courage and asked her why did she had to be so rude the other day. Pavitra realizing the situation asked her what she wanted to hear…. Do you want me to apologize for being honest or do you want to know the reason. Kaveri wanted only her due apology but this question aroused curiosity in her and she said I want to know the reason and also the apology that you owe me. Pavitra said that earning money is very important to her…. Her father had abandoned her family…. She and her mother work to be able to provide for themselves. She wants to earn enough to be able to fund her education. She wanted to work in an office just like Kaveri. And education is expensive you know… good books cost a lot… but I dream and work hard to make my dreams come true. If I start taking charity….. I will get used to it and I don’t want that… life is not charity you know… Kaveri realizing her mistake quickly apologized and left…. Pavitra following her apologized and said that if you really want to her a poor person build their character and not just offer money.

Kaveri could not hold back her tears…. She knew she had a better life as compared to a lot of other people… but seeing that in person is a different thing all together…. She thought how easily I give up on my dreams …. How I blame everyone around me for my failures… its not about financial status… it is about strength and perseverance…. Pavitra may be poor today… but she is a fighter and a survivor…. She prayed for only good things to happen with Pavitra. I should help her…. But how can I? I don’t want to degrade her by offering the money again…. What about books…. She wants education and books will help her. Kaveri made a mental note to buy as many books as she can for Pavitra and silently thanked Pavitra for making her a better person. Kaveri smiled thinking of Pavitra’s eyes and realized that it was determination that she had seen the other day that stayed with her and it always will!!!

Story Time!!


Long, long ago, there lived three friends in a jungle. They were-a deer, a crow and a mouse. They used to share their meals together.

One day, a turtle came to them and said, “I also want to join your company and become your friend. I’m all alone. ”

“You’re most welcome,” said the crow. “But what about your personal safety. There are many hunters around. They visit this jungle regularly. Suppose, a hunter comes, how will you save yourself?”

“That is the reason why I want to join your group,” said the turtle

No sooner had they talked about it than a hunter appeared on the scene. Seeing the hunter, the deer darted away; the crow flew in the sky and the mouse ran into a hole. The turtle tried to crawl away fast, but he was caught by the hunter. The hunter tied him up in the net. He was sad to lose the deer. But he thought, it was better to feast on the turtle rather than to go hungry.

The turtle’s three friends became much worried to see his friend trapped by the hunter. They sat together to think of some plan to free his friend from the hunter’s snare.

The crow then flew high up in the sky and spotted the hunter walking along the river bank. As per the plan the deer ran ahead of the hunter unnoticed and lay on the hunter’s path as if dead.

The hunter saw the deer from a distance, lying on the ground. He was very happy to have found it again. “Now I’ll have a good feast on it and sell its beautiful skin in the market,” thought the hunter to himself. He put down the turtle on to the ground and ran to pick up the deer.

In the meantime, as planned, the rat gnawed through the net and freed the turtle. The turtle hurriedly crawled away into the river water.

Unaware of the plot of these friends, the hunter went to fetch the dear for its tasty flesh and beautiful skin. But, what he saw with his mouth agape was that, when he reached near, the deer suddenly sprang up to its feet and darted away in the jungle. Before he could understand anything, the deer had disappeared.

Dejected, the hunter turned back to collect the turtle he had left behind on the ground in the snare. But he was shocked to see the snare lying nibbled at and the turtle missing. For a moment, the hunter thought that he was dreaming. But the damaged snare lying on the ground was proof enough to confirm that he was very much awake and he was compelled to believe that some miracle had taken place.

The hunter got frightened on account of these happenings and ran out of the jungle.

The four friends once again started living happily.


Story Time!!

God Sees the Truth, But Waits


Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov is a merchant living in a town in Russia, Vladimir. Although Aksionov is prone to drinking, he is not violent, and he is responsible and well-liked by people that know him. One day he decides to go to a fair as a business venture, but his wife pleads for him not to go because of a nightmare she had the previous night. Aksionov doesn’t consider his wife’s dream and leaves for the fair.

Aksionov meets another merchant on his way, and the two decide to travel together. They check into an inn and have a good time drinking, and then they retire separately. Aksionov wakes early in the next morning to get to the fair and leaves without the other merchant. Not far down the road, Aksionov is stopped by some policemen. They explain a merchant was just murdered and robbed, and then they search Aksionov’s bag. They find a bloody knife, and despite Aksionov’s claims that he is not the murderer, he is sentenced and sent to Siberia. After his trial flogging, his wife can finally visit him, and she sees that Aksionov’s hair has begun to go gray from the stress.

Aksionov spends twenty-six years in Siberia, and, resigned to his fate, he dedicates his life to God. He becomes a mediator of sorts in the prison, and he is well respected by the other prisoners and also guards alike. One day some new prisoners, one of them being Makar Semyonich, are transferred to the prison. After overhearing several conversations, Aksionov is convinced that Makar Semyonich is the man who committed the murder for which Aksionov was blamed.

One day the guards notice that someone had been strewing dirt around the grounds, and they search the prison and find a tunnel. Aksionov had found out earlier that it was Makar Semyonich that was digging the hole, but after being questioned by the police, Aksionov declares that it is not his place to speak about the matter. Makar Semyonich approaches Aksionov later that day in a terrible state, and he eventually admits to Aksionov that it was he who killed the merchant. Aksionov forgives Semyonich, and he feels as if a terrible weight had been lifted. Makar Semyonich confesses to the authorities and the process for Aksionov to be cleared is begun. Unfortunately, Aksionov dies before he can reach home, but he dies in peace.

P.S: This beautiful story by Leo Tolstoy, brings out the importance of faith and patience in God.

Story Time!!

The Kabuliwala


My five-year old daughter Mini is a chatty girl and likes to talk all day long. It took ‘her about a year after being born to acquire the talent for language, and since then she has not wasted a single wakeful moment of her life remaining silent. Often her mother chides her to keep quiet, but I can never do that. Seeing the girl mute even for an instant seems so odd and unusual to me that I find it unbearable. That’s why my conversation with Mini is often feisty. One morning as I had just started writing the seventeenth chapter of my novel, Mini walked into the room and began, ‘Dad, our sentry Ramdayal doesn’t even know how to pronounce the word “crow.” He is so backward.’ Before I could begin to enlighten her on the differences between languages, she launched into another topic. ‘See, Dad, Bhola was saying that when elephants lift water with their trunks and spray it from the sky, it rains. Dear, oh dear! Bhola can speak such nonsense. He can rant day and night, without making any sense!’ Without waiting for my opinion on it, she asked me out of the blue, ‘Dad, who is Mum to you?’ Sister-in-law, I thought to myself, but to Mini I replied, avoiding the complicated question, ‘You go and play with Bhola. I have some work now.’ At this, she flopped beside the writing table, close to my feet, and began to play a game of knick-knack with her hands and knees, rapidly chanting a nursery rhyme. In the seventeenth chapter of my novel, Pratap Singh was jumping off the high balcony of the jailhouse at this time, with Kanchanmala, into the river below in the dark of night. Stopping her game abruptly, Mini ran to the window which overlooked the main road, and began calling out at the top of her voice, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala!’ A tall, shabbily clothed Afghan street vender, with a turban on his head, a bag over his shoulder and a few boxes of dry grapes in his hands was passing through the street slowly. I have no idea what flashed through my daughter’s mind at the sight of this man, but the moment she saw him she began yelling. I thought, this nuisance with a sack over his shoulder will show up in a moment and I won’t be able to finish writing the seventeenth chapter of my novel. But the moment the Kabuliwala, at hearing Mini’s call, turned around with a smile and approached the house; she dashed inside and couldn’t be found anywhere. She had this childish fear that if someone looked through the bag of this Afghan man, several living children like herself would be found in there. Meanwhile, the Kabuliwala stepped into the compound and stood at the door with a smile and an Islamic salute. I thought, although the characters in my novel, Pratap Singh and Kanchanmala were in dire straits, it would be unseemly to call the man all the way to the house and not buy anything. I bought a few items and soon I was involved in a rambling conversation with him on various topics including Abdur Rahman, the Emir of Afghanistan, and the Frontier Policy of the Russians and the British.

Finally, as he was about to leave the house, he asked, ‘Sir, where is your little girl?’ To break Mini’s unfounded fear, I called her from inside the house. She came and stood nervously, pressing against my body, and looking suspiciously at the Kabuliwala and his bag. The Kabuliwala took out some raisins and apricots from inside the bag and gave it to Mini, but she refused to take them and remained pressed against my knees with a redoubled suspicion. That was how their first meeting ended. A few days later, as I was leaving the house in the morning for some important work, I saw my tiny daughter sitting on the bench next to the door and speaking nonstop with the Kabuliwala, who was parked next to her feet and listening to her with a grin and interjecting now and then in broken Bengali to give his opinion. In her short five-year life, Mini had never found a more intent listener before other than her father. I also noticed that she had lots of nuts and raisins tied up at the loose end of her small sari. Upon discovering this, I asked the Kabuliwala, ‘Why did you give all these to her? Please don’t do it again.’ With that, I took out a half-a-rupee coin and gave it to him. The Kabuliwala took the money without any hesitation and put it in his bag. On returning home, I found that a full-scale row had broken out over the coin. Holding the white, round, shining piece of metal in her hand, Mini’s mother asked her in a rebuking tone, ‘Where did you get the coin?’ Mini replied, ‘The Kabuliwala gave it to me.’ Her mother chided, ‘Why did you take it from him?’ Mini answered sobbingly, ‘I didn’t ask for it. He gave it on his own.’ I stepped in to rescue Mini and took her out for a walk. I learnt that this was not her second meeting with the Kabuliwala. He had been visiting Mini almost daily, and by offering her pistachio nuts he had already won a large part of the girl’s childish heart. The two friends had a few stock phrases and jokes which were repeated in their conversations. For example, the moment she saw Rahamat, my daughter would ask with a hearty laugh, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala, what is in your sack?’ Adding an unnecessary nasal tone to the word, Rahamat would roar, ‘Hanti.’ The essence of the joke was that the man had an elephant in his sack. Not that the joke was very witty, but it caused the two friends to double up in laughter, and the sight of that innocent joy between a little girl and a grown man on autumn mornings used to move me deeply. Another routine exchange between the two was, whenever they met, Rahamat would tell the girl in his characteristic thick accent, ‘Missy, you should never go to the in-laws’.’ Bengali girls were commonly familiar with the term ‘in-laws’ practically since birth. But being more modern, we chose not to load our daughter’s mind with precocious thoughts at such a tender age. That was why Mini could never fully understand Rahamat’s advice. But to keep quiet and not respond to a statement was contrary to Mini’s nature. Therefore, turning the phrase into a question, she would ask, ‘Will you go to your in-laws?’ Making a huge fist with his hand, Rahamat would pretend to punch at his imaginary in-law and say, ‘I’ll wallop my in-law.’ Thinking of the plight of the unknown creature called father-in-law, Mini would explode into laughter

It was still early autumn – that time of year when kings in ancient days used to go out on conquest. Personally, I have never been away from Kolkata which is why my mind always wanders around the world. I am like an exile in my own home as my mind constantly likes to travel to other places. The moment I hear the name of a foreign country, my mind longs to visit that unknown place. Likewise, the sight of an alien person brings to mind the image of a lonely hut beside a river in the midst of a forest, and I begin to imagine an autonomous, exultant way of life. Yet I am so dull and inert that every time I think of travelling out of my little world, I panic. That’s why I used to mitigate my desire for travelling a little by talking to this man from Kabul in the morning, sitting in front of my writing table in my little room. The Kabuliwala blared out stories of his homeland in his broken Bengali and I fancied it all before my eyes: tall, rugged, impassable mountains on two sides, red-hot with torrid heat, and a caravan moving through the narrow, dusty passageway in between; turbaned traders and travellers passing by, some on camel back, others on foot; some carrying spears, and others outdated flint-stone guns. Mini’s mother is naturally a timid person. Whenever she hears a slight noise from the street, she thinks all the tipplers of the world are rushing together towards our house. After living for so many years in this world (though not many), she has still not been able to temper her fear that the world is full of all kinds of horrors: thieves, robbers, drunkards, snakes, tigers, malaria, cockroaches and European soldiers. She was not free of suspicion about the Kabuliwala, Rahamat, and nagged me to keep a watchful eye on him. Whenever I sought to make light of her suspicions, she asked me a few pointed questions: ‘Are there no such instances of child abduction? Isn’t slave-trade still in practice in Afghanistan? Is it altogether impossible for a giant Afghan to kidnap a little child?’ I had to agree that those were not impossible, but was improbable. However, not everyone has the same capacity for trust, so my wife remained suspicious of the man. But I couldn’t stop Rahamat from visiting the house either because he had done nothing wrong. Every year, in January or February, Rahamat would go back to his home country to visit his family. A money-lender, he was unusually busy during this period collecting dues from his clients before the trip. He had to rush from house to house to raise the collectibles, and yet he found time to visit Mini. It appeared as if the two were involved in a mischievous plot. The day he couldn’t come in the morning, he came in the evening. To see that huge Afghan sitting in the corner of the house in the dark of evening in his baggy clothes and customary sack would create a sudden fear in my mind. But the moment I saw Mini rushing out of the house and greeting her friend, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala,’ and the chums of incompatible years engaging in their familiar bantering and innocent laughter, my heart would fill with delight. One morning I was sitting in my room and reading some proofs. It was the end of winter, but for the last few days, before the season came to a close, the temperature was freezing and almost unbearable. I was enjoying the warmth of a strip of morning sun that had alighted on my feet under the table, travelling through the glass window. ‘Kabuliwala.’

It was about eight o’clock, and most of the early risers had finished their morning walk with their necks wrapped in scarves and returned home. Just then, I heard some commotion in the street. Looking out, I saw our Rahamat in handcuffs, escorted by two policemen, with a whole host of street urchins trailing after them. There were marks of blood on Rahamat’s clothes and a policeman was carrying a blood-stained knife. I stepped out and accosted the policemen, demanding to know what was going on. Putting together details from Rahamat as well as the policemen, I understood that one of our neighbours was indebted to Rahamat for a Rampuri shawl and when the man denied his debt, an argument broke out between them. In the heat of the argument Rahamat took out a knife and stabbed the man. Rahamat was in the midst of hurling abuse in obscene language at the dishonest man when Mini came running out of the house, shouting, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala.’ In a flash, Rahamat’s face was filled with expressions of happiness. Since he didn’t have the sling bag over his shoulder that day, their usual exchange on the subject could not take place. So Mini asked him straight off, ‘Will you be going to your in-laws’ house?’ ‘That’s exactly where I am going,’ Rahamat replied with a laugh. When he noticed that Mini did not find the answer quite amusing, he pointed to his hands and added in his heavily accented, patchy Bengali, ‘I would have beaten up the in-law. But what can I do, my hands are tied up.’ Charged with grievous injury, Rahamat was sent to jail for several years. We almost forgot about him. Living our days through our daily routines in the security of our home, it never occurred to us once how this free-spirited man from the mountains was spending his years within the secluded walls of the jail. And the way Mini’s inconstant little heart behaved was embarrassing even to her father. She easily forgot her old friend and found a new one in Nabi, the syce. Then, as she continued to grow up, she replaced all her elderly male friends, one after another, with girls of her own age. She was hardly to be seen in her father’s studio. In a way, I had almost ended all friendship with her.

Several years passed. It was autumn again. Mini’s wedding match had been fixed. She was to get married during the puja holidays. This event will take the joy of our household to her in-laws’ house, leaving us in darkness. It was a sunny, resplendent morning. The rain-washed sun of early autumn took the hue of pure gold. Its brilliance made even the dingy, rundown brick houses in the inner lanes of Kolkata look beautiful. The wedding music had started playing in the house since dawn. Each note of that music seemed to come right from my rib-cage in a sobbing tune and spread the sorrow of an impending farewell to the world, mixing itself with the radiant shafts of the autumnal sun. My Mini was to get married that day. There was a lot of hubbub in the house since visitors were continually loitering in and out. A tent was being put up on bamboo poles in the courtyard of the house, and the chimes of chandeliers being rigged in the portico of every room filled the air. There was no end to the rumpus.

I was going through the wedding accounts in my study, when suddenly Rahamat walked into the room and stood before me with a salaam. At first I couldn’t recognise him. He didn’t have that customary sack with him, or the long hair and his burly look. Finally, I recognised him through his smile. I asked him, ‘Hello, Rahamat, how long have you been back?’ ‘I was released from jail last evening,’ he replied. The words gave me a sudden jolt. I had never seen a homicide before, so my heart flinched at the sight of the man. I wished he would leave the house immediately on this auspicious day. I said, ‘We have a wedding in the house today, and I am quite busy. It is better for you to go now.’ At that, he began to leave the house, but as he reached the door, he turned back in hesitation and asked in a faltering tone, ‘Can’t I see the girl for a moment?’ Perhaps he was convinced that Mini was still the same little girl and would come out of the house running to greet him, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala,’ as in the past. Their happy, playful relationship of old had remained unchanged. Remembering their past friendship, he had even brought a box of grapes and a few raisins wrapped in a packet, which he must have borrowed from some Afghan friend because his own customary sack was not there with him. I said once again, ‘There is a festivity in the house today. It won’t be possible to see anyone at this time.’ He looked a little hurt by the statement and stood stupefied for a time, gazing at me with a fixed look. Then he walked out of the room abruptly with a simple ‘bye.’ I felt remorseful and thought I should call him back, but right then I saw him turning around. Standing close to me, he said, ‘I brought these grapes and raisins for the little girl, hope you don’t mind giving it to her.’ I took the fruits from him and was about to pay some money when he grabbed me by the hand and said, ‘You’re a generous man, Sir, and I’ll never forget your kindness, but please don’t pay me for these fruits. Just as you have a daughter, I too have one back home. It is remembering her face that I bring these gifts for your child. I don’t come here for business.’ With that, he shoved his hand inside his huge baggy shirt and brought out a grimy piece of paper from somewhere close to his chest. Unfolding it very carefully, he laid the paper open on the table. I could see the impression of a very small hand on it; not a photograph, not a painting, but the trace of a tiny hand created with burnt charcoal daubed on the palm. Every year Rahamat came to peddle merchandise on the streets of Kolkata carrying that memorabilia of his daughter in his pocket, as if the soft touch of that little hand kept his huge, lonely heart fed with love and happiness. My eyes filled with tears at the sight of that piece of paper. It no longer mattered to me that he was an ordinary fruit-peddler from Kabul and I belonged to an aristocratic Bengali family. In a moment I realised that we were both just the same – he was a father and so was I. The print of his mountain-dwelling daughter’s hand reminded me of my own Mini. I sent word for her to come out to the study immediately. Many of the women objected, but I paid no heed. In her bridal dress and ceremonial makeup, Mini came out from the inner quarters and stood beside me coyly.

The Kabuliwala saw Mini and became confused; their good-natured humour of old also didn’t work out. In the end, with a smile, he asked, ‘Girl, are you going to the in-law’s house?’ Mini now understood what ‘in-law’ meant. So she couldn’t answer the way she did in the past. Rather, hearing the question from Rahamat, her face became purple in shame and she abruptly turned around and left. This brought back memories of their first meeting and I felt an ache in my heart. Soon after Mini left, Rahamat slouched on the floor with a long, deep sigh. It became obvious to him that his own daughter had grown up as well and he would have to get to know her all over again. She would not be the same girl he had left behind. He was not even sure what might have happened to her in the past eight years. The wedding music continued to play softly in the courtyard on that autumnal sunny morning, and sitting there on the floor of my house in an alley in Kolkata, Rahamat continued to envision the images of the arid, hilly terrains of Afghanistan. I took out some money and gave it to him. ‘You go back to your daughter in Afghanistan, Rahamat, and may the happiness of your union bring blessings for my Mini too,’ I said. I had to cut out one or two items from the éclat of the festivities for gifting that money. For example, the lighting decoration was not as gorgeous as I had wanted it to be, and the band party had to be cancelled. This upset the women, but buoyed by a benevolent spirit, my auspicious ceremony became more luminous.

Story time!


The Lion and the Mouse

Once when a lion, the king of the jungle, was asleep, a little mouse began running up and down on him. This soon awakened the lion, who placed his huge paw on the mouse, and opened his big jaws to swallow him.

“Pardon, O King!” cried the little Mouse, “Forgive me this time. I shall never repeat it and I shall never forget your kindness. And who knows, I may be able to do you a good turn one of these days!”

The Lion was so tickled by the idea of the mouse being able to help him that he lifted his paw and let him go.

Sometime later, a few hunters captured the lion, and tied him to a tree. After that they went in search of a wagon, to take him to the zoo.


Just then the little mouse happened to pass by. On seeing the lion’s plight, he ran up to him and gnawed away the ropes that bound him, the king of the jungle.

“Was I not right?” said the little mouse, very happy to help the lion.

My take: Do not let somebody’s strength or weakness effect your ability to help them.