Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Buying The Girl Next Door

It is one of the hottest nights of June and the usual London grey sky, smiled bluish today. The dash of orange running like a dagger, right in the heart of the summer night made me think of Lucy. How long it had been, when Lucy had walked out on me with Jane, my beautiful daughter? The time did not make sense. The only thing that made sense was the loneliness. That night, the park looked lonely too. The soft breeze felt like a gentle touch of a woman. The leaves whispered their secrets to anyone who cared to listen and I walked around to hear some more.
That is when I saw them. Not more than 16 but engulfed in a physical symphony so strong and smooth that I thought my heart was racing with theirs. The rhythm and the sounds, the curves of early womanhood and the pearls of sweat running down her back, made me want to dive right in.

I hurriedly unlocked my house door and dashed for the phone. "Age, Sex and Address, please," almost sang a woman in a husky, sexy voice. "14, Montague Road, Windsor. Female. Teen," I say with an audible excitement in my voice. "Sending in 15," she hangs up.
I search for an adult tape, drink down two pints and light up a smoke while waiting for what it turned out to be one of the most painful nights of my life.

I am pacing near the hallway, feeling my manhood throbbing through my trousers, when I hear the doorbell rings. I stub off the cigarette and open the door to a girl so sensual, that it seemed like a dream. Was it just her sensuality or what is it her resemblance to Lucy that attracted me more toward her? Whatever the reason, I counted my blessings to have gotten this beautiful God's creation. I welcome her in the house with my hand on her full bottom. She steps in with a coy smile as she puts her hand around my waist. "Hi. I am Roxy. Do you straight want to get to business or do you want to chat first?," she questions.
"You are with a gentleman tonight, Miss Roxy. I am not a savage that you usually come across," I say. There is a clear disinterest in her eyes as I say this. Her eyes. Blue, large and deep. Not like a prostitute's, completely fake. But like a classy woman's, genuine and sincere. "I really don't have much time for a chat, actually," she states while interrupting my thoughts.
Taking the hint, I take her to my bedroom upstairs and ask her to get ready in the bathroom as I wait for her on the bed. I lay on the bed visualising the young couple in the park and my excitement is at the top. Roxy walks out of the bathroom in a white negligee, which barely concealed her milky white skin. She looked like an angel under the ambient lights and she sexily strutted towards the bed. She is about to drop her negligee with a sexy tilt and that is when all hell broke loose.

"WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!," she is screams while scampering off to the bathroom. I am in a shock at her behaviour and run towards to the bathroom. I bang on the bathroom door with a thud.

"Roxy, what is wrong? Are you okay? Should I call the doctor? Your madam? Are you okay? Please answer baby," I yell.
"Who is the woman and the girl in the picture on your bedside table?" she asks from the other side of the door.
"My ex-wife Lucy and my daughter Jane. They left me many years back. Don't worry, baby.  No wife is going to walk through the door to threaten you. Come out now. Let us talk and have a good time," I say as I light another cigarette.
"Your wife will never walk through those doors now, she is dead. And your daughter is a hooker now, hiding in your bathroom," she says while walking outside the door in her jeans and a jacket.
"WHAT!!!! Jane? Is it really you, Jane?"
"I was. I am Roxy, now. I have been Roxy since my mother died two years ago, my step-father tried to rape me and my biological father, probably forgot, I ever existed," she says with an expression of the dead and walks down the steps.
"I didn't know about Lucy's death, Jane. I didn't know, er, er anything. Lucy asked me to never contact you both and I respected her wishes," I cried and ran behind her.

I do not know if she ever heard. I do not know if she ever forgave. I do not know if she is still a working girl and I do not know why I am I still alive. 

Writing Prompt by Reddit

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Downtown Girls

Isn’t it strange how little minor changes to your ambiances can make you feel a million miles away from home? For me, I’m much more affected by the little changes in my environment than the big ones. Be it the bright, neon lights and roadside vendors selling crepes or the choking traffic and an overfilled bar, Bastille is still my home.  Oh no, do not take me, as a history enthusiast for it is not the historical significance of Bastille that made me fall in love with it. But, it was the warm, friendly people, who do NOT dress like runway models and love their cheap cocktails that welcomed me into the circle and showered me with the rare feeling of belonging.

Bastille is the symbol of French revolution and one of most renowned tourist spots of Paris. King Luis XIV used the fort out here as a prison once but what now remains are the moderately priced restaurants, charity shops, cheap boutiques and a lively music scene. My favourite hangout in this home away from home was the huge bar, Le Red House. Conquered by a stately bull’s skull hanging over the bar, Le Red House had the vibe of a Texan tavern right in the heart of Bastille. The clientele here was neither uber-stylish nor shabby farmers: the crowd was vibrant, young, sprightly and loud. The silver lining at Red House was the happy hour from 5pm to 8pm which charged €5 a pint and €6 for house cocktails, prepared with class liquors. My favourite was the Red House Flambeau mixed to perfection with bourbon, apricot brandy, spicy syrup, lemon and ginger.

That night the importance of my usual booth at the Red house and the savoury taste of my Flambeau truly dawned on me. It was the night that I was invited for dinner at a swanky place in Avenue Matignon. This was going to my debut in the elite circle and I wasn’t sure if I had dressed the part. In my blue shimmer dress and black high heels, I waited for Caroline to come and guide me in this dauntingly beautiful restaurant called Le Berkeley. Le Berkeley was the royalty amongst all restaurants. I had done my research and I knew it well that right from Duchess of Windsor to the modern-day billionaires, all have had made their presence here.

I saw my former colleague Caroline from far away and I knew I was underdressed even in my  €50 dress. She looked angelic in her white Jean Paul Gautier dress and her gold Manolo Blahniks. She hugged me awkwardly and took me by my hand, into the most overstated place I have ever been. What was so lavish about it? The purple and gold tapestry made it look regal and sophisticated no doubt and the ambiance was romantic, but I certainly didn’t see the hoopla that people always made of it. What worse, were the patrons there. Did they seem plastic just to me or did all rich, Parisians looked like this? They spoke in softest murmurs and laughed as if the sky would fall down at slightest sound of a hearty laughter. While breathing in this ‘uptown’ air, I seated down with a party of five at our reserved table. And, thus began the longest night of my life.

As all of them studied the complicated menu intently, my eyes roamed on the right hand side of the page, scouting for the lowest price. Now, do not judge me as a cheap tartlet, but €250 for a meal? I am sorry, but that is just not how I am wired. After a quick calculation of my monthly budget in my head, I opted for the shrimp sautéed with Thai herbs with sautéed baby veg. I had no idea what wine would complement my food so I stuck to the usual, Bougrier Rose d'Anjou. Talks about politics, economics, overseas travels, books and literature flew around the table and all I could contribute with was my crooked smile and rightly-timed nods. I was a reader too, but not of the classics as these polished people were. I knew who Albert Camus was but had no clue about his style of writing, Does that make me uncivilized? I think it did from the point of view of my suave fellow diners.

I think the powder rooms in such restaurants are made for people like me. Whenever downtown people start feeling too embarrassed, this is where they come to escape humiliation for a few minutes. They come here, soak in the luxury of the space, take a lungful of lavender scented air, shoot a look at themselves— sometimes of mercy and sometimes of patience, as though telling themselves, “Hold on. Just a few minutes more and you will be out of this stifling place.” I too, entered with the same agenda. I needed a break from the haughty circus and came to the powder room for a respite. After a quick touch up of my make up, I sat down a while at the comfortable armchair in the corner and I heard someone say in a child-like voice, “Is this your first time out here, too?”

I looked around and I saw a girl of no more than 18. She looked beautiful with her red, rosebud mouth. Her faux chiffon shift dress assured me that I had finally found someone from planet earth in this stately place haunted by plastic people.
    “Hi I am Jenna. I am from the states. And, yes this is my first time in this dreadful place,” I say.

I could see a genuine wave of relief washing over the girl’s face as she chirped, “Hey. I am Angela from Canada and this is my first time too out here. You have no idea how awkward I am feeling in this place. It is so suffocating, isn’t it? Or is it just me feeling this way?”

I let out a robust laugh as a woman of the plastic clan in her mid-thirties shot me a disgusted look. I ignored it without feeling embarrassed.
  “You are not the only one, babe. I hate such places too. I do not why I convinced myself to splurge and come here of all the places. I have been counting hours to get out of here,” I assure her.

In that moment of relief of finding someone that echoes my thoughts, I realized the importance of people. People who you relate to. People with whom you belong. People who have the same question as you. People that sing the same song.

Angela and I bid goodbye to our uptown friends without waiting for desserts and headed down to Le Red House at Bastille where the crowd was lively and loud. The pitcher of delicious Flambeau made us forget our night of overtly sophistication as we talked about our hometowns,  work and interests into the wee hours of morning.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Phuljhadi Seller

A little girl of only nine is walking through the streets of Chandigarh. Her pink frock is flapping in the nippy air as she strolls lazily, occasionally changing hands to carry the heavy, jute bag. Her haggard, blue sweater looks too large on her tiny frame but Maa had said that it would protect the little one from the cold as it had protected her. So, the little girl wore it with all her pride throughout the year and found solace in its warmth. This blue sweater was her mother’s hug as this blue sweater is all she had of her mother now.  

The sun is about to set and the sky wears a pink glow. The bag in her hand still feels as heavy as it did at home. A visible worry clouds the little one’s face as she looks into her bag. Not even one packet of phuljhadis (squibs) has been sold today and father was sure to give her a good thrashing. Yet she prods on with her heavy bag, dragging her gout slippers, as her feet turn blue in the icy night.

The streets are getting deserted now and the climate, colder. Should she go home to her father’s beatings and drunken blabber to beat the cold? But, home was cold too with father seizing the only two blankets of the house. Her heart decided the better of it as she found a bench on the street, right opposite to the big, marble house. She settled in with her bag and wrapped the large sweater tighter around herself as the night grew darker by the minute and the air nippier.

The big house resembled a palace with the fairy lights and the vibrant lanterns. It wore the ultimate Diwali look. The green grass of its garden sparkled under the lights on the trees and the door looked inviting owing to its garlands. The little girl sat on the bench, smiling to herself while enjoying the play of the fairy lights. But, the smile was soon washed away by the unforgiving cold.

The incessant shivers coax the girl to light up one phuljhadi to get some warmth. She lights one up with father’s fear in heart. But as soon as the stick burns with full fervour, the little one heaves a sigh of relief while warming her hands over the burning squib lying on the ground. She lights another one and then another one while walking around the street with blazing squibs in her hand until she lands at the window of the big, marble house.

She lights yet another stick and looks into the house. The table looks like one on the television, stocked with sweetmeats. The laddoos look delicious with tiny cashews sitting on top of each one. The jalebis look fresh and crispy-fried, dripping with sugar syrup. The earthen bowl filled to the brim with phirni looks enticing as the garnishing of saffron strands contrasts well with the white, milky sweet. But, the dark night suddenly puts the curtain down on the show as the squib gently fuses out.

The little girl now sits down on the damp grass and plays with the squibs. She lights one more for the much-needed warmth and what she sees now is unbelievable to her eyes. Is that her Maa with a laddoo in her hand? The squib suddenly fuses out again. She walks a little closer to where she had seen her Maa and lights one more. There she is again. Looking radiant in a white saree with a red border. Her hair is neatly tied up in a bun at the nape of her neck. The heavenly fragrance of tiny white blossoms around her hair bun freshens up the atmosphere. The bright, red bindi on her forehead is almost blazing with a fiery vibrancy. And, suddenly again, there is just the black night and the burned out stick in the little girl’s hand.

“Take me with you, Maa. I am so cold. Hug me, Maa. I want to be with you,” she calls out in the eerie night while lighting up the last squib.


“She must have burned the phuljhadis to keep herself warm, I guess,” one said. “Bechari must have died in the freezing cold night,” said the other.

But, nobody will know the picturesque show that the phuljhadis got her and no one will ever know that she is now in a beautiful place with her beautiful mother.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ana (Based on a True Story)

At last, the autumn is here. That time of the year when the ground is positively gleaming and there are golden dried leaves to kick about. The evening breeze has a chill to it and she hugs herself tighter with a bagel-stuffed face. She tosses a penny at the guitarist’s laid out hat at the tube station with an innocent smile. Her friend, Bianca is never punctual and it gives her enough time to gaze at the pretty hoardings and posters of the upcoming Broadway shows and motion pictures. The Kensal Garden tube station is like her second home. She spends hours out here just looking at these beautiful pictures and observing these people with their robotic faces going about their day. Not one shares a smile with the fellow commuter and it is assured that not one will help a person in need in this alluring city.  It is in this station that most days, she retraces her steps back in London. Innumerable people come to London from different parts of the world and more than half of the Roma population from Romania comes here to make a living. She is one of them and her name is Ana.

It was not too long ago that Ana was shipped to London from Romania with her two sisters. They were told that they would be given bread and cheese to eat every single day. Cheese! She could not believe her ears. Cheese! Every single day! Was London a magical island… thought the 16-year-old Ana. She did not even remember her mother buying cheese in the past few years. It was a luxury item, after all. London seemed like the answer to all of their problems then. It was the time for the monsoons to come pouring down and father was sure that their shanty could not survive it this year. So, when he was given the option to send his daughters to London in search of a living, he leapt at the idea. Did he think of what kinds of job will his offspring be offered in the big city? I think not! But, who would when stuck in bottomless poverty, hunger and despair?

Ana met Bianca the very first day she moved to London. Bianca sat at a nearby Starbucks’ smoking section. She did not look Romanian at all. Her tight black top and her denim hot pants were nothing like any Romanian girl would wear. For Ana she resembled a movie star. The luscious, long, brown hair framed her oval face well. Her skin looked like a mixture of milk and honey and her red lips parted stylishly as she smoked her cigarette with poise. She was the quintessential bohemian beauty. Ana certainly looked plain in front of her. Her long black skirt covered her ankles and her mountain jacket camouflaged her shapeless body well. Ana thanked herself to have worn the headscarf on that day so that her springy hair was hidden from this Goddess. She walked up to Bianca like a little mouse. “I will never forget the look of pity in Bianca’s eyes as she first laid her eyes on me,” reminisces Ana.

Bianca groomed her to be what she is today. She looked after her like an elder sister. She taught her the ways of London and most importantly she enlightened her about ways to make men pay more and come back for more every single night. Today, Ana is one of the most sought after Romanian prostitutes and she can afford to ship cheese to Romania every single day if she wishes. She makes money, a lot of it. So much money that she could not make after begging for months on Oxford Street and Edgware Road, she now makes in one night. She rents out her own apartment in Kensal Garden and ensures that her younger sisters, Flori and Gabi attend school.

A loud thud perturbs Ana’s thoughts about her sisters as she sees Bianca seated besides her with a tear-stained face. “Anton beat me up again. He needs more money and I don’t know what to do,” she cries. Anton is Bianca’s husband and their agent— their pimp in layman’s language. Anton got them high-profile clients and gave them a good cut but since a past few months, his demands have been incessant. Ana holds her hand with compassion, picks up the threads of their daily life filled with murk and boards the train to Elephant and Castle.


The heavy black door of the nightclub opens with a thump as a wave of thrashing music escapes it with almost a physical force. Friday nights are usually packed with a drunken debauchery which means hookers make a lot of money these nights. Middle-aged bankers with their loosened ties scouting for washed up ex-models to make their weekend a little spicier, is a common sight. Bankers have a huge fascination for the term ‘model’ and Ana learnt early on in business to introduce herself as an ‘aspiring model who is in between jobs right now’. “You drop a few fancy names of painters and writers, hint at the knowledge you have for the latest runway trends and order a swanky drink while flaunting a bit of your cleavage in the classy way and the rich man is sure to be a putty in your hands.” Bianca’s tips and tricks resonate in Ana’s mind every time she enters a club.  

Ana walks in further with her usual gusto while adjusting the strap of her purple peplum dress. Her suede pumps gave the right swing to her derrière and her new bob hairdo complemented her sexy yet elusive look. Bianca too flaunted her movie star looks and smoothed her golden sequined dress. They settle in their usual corner booth as Gina the bar maid comes over to greet them.

  “There is a new group of hags tonight. They seem loaded,” she informs while laughing at her own usage of intended pun.

They look over at the table with a smile and a toxic cocktail of tequila, heroin and crystal meth washes out that remainder of night.


“Flori and Gabi, always remember to text me the address of your business venue for the night and to take the pepper spray,” calls out a disfigured face to two teenaged girls, swathed with garish make up and nylon dresses. “Sure, Ana. You take care of yourself,” responds the younger one.

It was just three months ago that I had read about the acid attacks on two young Romanian prostitutes. Yet today I see two more albeit younger versions of the ones attacked, boarding the same train from Kensal Garden to Elephant and Castle.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The New Me

Jon is sleeping besides me. His rhythmic breathing and the warmth of his fingertips have been engulfing in the sweet daily routine of our nights since past four years. Jon is a baby and sleeps like one and the night he is up and bright past 11 PM is the night when there is a Manchester United game blaring through our television. Those nights are difficult because night is the only time that I truly feel alive and being almost alone in the house adds to the zest of it. Every night it is the same routine. Jon slips into his navy blue night boxers, oh yes; he does have a special pair of night boxers with little white birds on it. He cuddles up in our powder blue duvet, pleads me to run my fingers through his hair while I read my book as he dozes off in no time. Then I quietly squeeze out of his grip, place a pillow in his arms and tip toe out of the room, sharp at 11.43 PM.

11.43 PM. When did it all start? I do not really remember. But I remember my early romance with Jon. Our first night in our big house together with tiny peppermint candles all around us, our first grocery shopping trip to the biggest Tesco all the way in Slough and those heavy bags full of chips and frozen pizzas.  I recollect our fight every night to dominate the right hand side of the bed and the long Sunday brunches and Sangrias on the deck. I recall the way Jon would be up every morning at 7 AM and the following peck and nuzzle on my neck that worked like an alarm clock. I remember the strong aroma of coffee drifting in the bedroom and my efforts to block it all out with my lavender-coloured pillow on my face. I still sometimes hear the rustling of the newspaper as Jon tries to catch up on his daily dose of news and I still smell his musky aftershave scent on my cheek, as he would kiss me good-bye for the day. My day would start at 9 AM with a grudge. The freshly brewed coffee would await me in the kitchen and my cereal would be sitting pretty on the dining table. Jon derived joy in readying such little things for me every morning and I loved being spoilt silly.

That day it all started the same way. I had my usual coffee and cereal and got into the shower. The day was grayer than a usual day in England and I decided to have a longer, lazier bath. Our bathroom was my favourite place of the house. It had the hints of the old English décor with intricate carvings and the bathtub could easily fit four. Jon and I had further decorated it in the shades of crème and dusty gold. I sat on my antique dressing chair while enjoying the lushness of our new foot rug. My feet sunk into the white velvet goodness as the sound of the gushing water falling into the tub complemented Catpower’s Sea of Love playing in the background. No deadlines, no phone calls, no articles and no mousy editor breathing down my neck. What a blissful day it was! After an elaborate shower, I decided to catch up on the latest season of Suits. I had heard that it’s getting better and a lazy, cold day to devour the entire season was a treat.

I was about to pop in the DVD when the old phone cranks up. Oh, how I hated that sound. I had requested, coaxed, forced and fought with Jon to get rid of the landline in this modern age of cellphones but the landline phone stayed with its ugly, blaring ring tone. I answered with an audible irritation in my voice.
   “Is this House No. 34 on Montague Road in Twyford?”
I answer yes.
   “I am calling from St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Mr. Jon Davis has been in an accident and this is the only contact information we have found on him. Does Mr. Davis live here?”

At that moment, the world seemed to have stopped and the only word resonating in my head was ‘accident’. After a lot of ‘hellos’ and ‘is any one theres’, I respond,      
   “Uh… Yes. My name is Sally and I am Jon’s partner. Ill be at the hospital in an hour.”
And, the next thing I know is that I am sitting besides the man I loved whose right side of the body was now paralyzed for life.

That was the last time that I had the lazy, luscious bath. Now, my showers are of hurried ten minutes, as I have to be at Jon’s side as quick as I can. I help him shower, get dressed, make his lunch and a pot full of coffee. I ensure his bedside is filled with his favourite books and magazines and I sit by his side all day long churning out articles after articles to get in as much money as I can. Do I ever feel the need to complain? Maybe… Do I have the time to do it? Definitely not. Our equation was bound to change from that fateful day onward. The morning neck nuzzles, the midnight romps, the swift exchange of kisses and all other kinds of physical intimacy are a thing of past. And is that what coaxed me into a double life of a cheating girlfriend? I guess so.

Every night at 11.43 PM I become a different me, a new me. A me that I do not recognize in the mornings. The me that I secretly hate but also love. Every night at 11.43 PM, I stealthily get out of our bedroom; take a quick look at myself in the mirror as a delicious wave of intrepidness washes over me. I take my laptop along with me and sit in the living room, light up a smoke and type in at sharp 11.45 PM…

“Hello Ryan. So, what does my tiger have in mind for his sex kitten, tonight?”

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Leaving Town

The time is inching closer,
When we will have to part,
Leave behind this beautiful life,
Looking ahead to a new start.

Those childhood memories,
And the swing on the trees,
The homemade marmalade,
And the angry chasing bees.

I wonder if the big city,
Will have the beautiful swans?
Will it have the green meadows?
And the striking dawns?

The university letter, is sitting at my desk,
My mother seems so proud, just like the rest.
I hear father talking to my elder brother,
He tells him, the bird is now ready to leave the nest.

If everyone around me is so glad,
Then why is my heart sinking?
Is it really the big city?
Or is it the just the quiet between my love and I

That… That is truly haunting?

My Butterfly

It was a bright sunny day,
That soft plush grass, upon I lay,
Suddenly, a sunshine butterfly flutters,
“Fly with me”, I think it mutters.

The golden little wings,
Gladly it flaunts,
With honey-hued spots
And its might sky jaunts

Oh, you pretty thing, I softly say,
Take me with you, far, far away
Lend me those wings, you pretty thing
Teach me to fly, flutter and swing.

All I want to do, is take a flight,
And feel the thrill of the tallest height.
All I want to be, is to be set free,
And fly above the deepest sea.

This thought makes me let out a soft sigh
Making my butterfly soar even high,
My yellow butterfly, I'll always remember,
My butterfly from last December.