Monday, 2 November 2015


When my mother told me 9 years ago that I would be going to a boarding school, I was excited out of my mind. One of my biggest expectations was to have a lot of midnight feasts in the dark. St Claire's, the series by Enid Blyton had greatly influenced my images of boarding schools and today, food is usually an important part of my favourite memories.
Bringing food into school was one of those rules that nearly everybody broke. My friends and I were no different. When dinner ended at 7:30, I was usually already thinking about the sweet treats waiting back in our cupboards, hidden behind me pile of uniforms.
At night, our matron would walk around to check if everybody was in their beds, switch the lights off and go down to her own room. Her door banging shut was like an alarm that set off all the "illegal" things that happened in the dark. People got up from their beds and went straight to their hangout spots. Like rats that come out in the night, everybody goes straight to the source of food - that one friend whose turn it was to share.
There were usually six kinds of people in these social gatherings. The paranoid one who hits the panic button with the slightest of sounds. The practical one that is usually the fastest when the matron really comes up for her surprise checks. The foodie who cannot wait when it comes to munching, usually the first one there, last one to leave and the noisiest when it comes to opening food packets. The accountant usually keeps a tab on our stock of food and has an approximate idea of how much we can eat a day so as to let our food last the longest. The head chef who comes up with the craziest (but most delicious) combinations out of the most random things and lastly the bad ass who is the least afraid and claims to have the courage to offer food to our  matron if she does catch us.
Midnight feasts were put on a really high pedestal. It was that one time of the day that a lot of us waited for. Friendships were made and broken over it. A sacred routine.

Monday, 26 October 2015


In an era  of social media and the Internet, I still hold the joy of receiving a letter, very close to my heart. An adrenaline rush that was cultivated when I spent day after day, for months following my matron around my dormitory  waiting for her to call out my name as she handed out a bunch of white envelopes with a few bent corners and a handwritten address. My mum was the sweetest, writing me a letter as often as she could. 
Then came the concept of emails. Spending a very precious few minutes of my "computer lab" class every week to write a considerably long message with a list of things that happened over the week and an even longer list of all things I wanted my mother to send me via courier. The number of emails rose and the number of letters fell but I still waited around for that occasional letter.
I grew accustomed to not hearing my own name called out but the small pile of letters and parcels still brought me just as much joy. I stopped following my matron around as much but I waited and watched as she distributed the letters to equally excited girls. For me, it was an art that I truly appreciated. An art that was lost to most of the world and yet important to me.
Even now, living in the same house as my mother and having no need to wait for letters, I  still run to our postbox looking for any mail.  Our little metal box in our apartments basement where the only envelopes to be found are usually bills or bank statements. But I still run and have a peek. Happiness rushes through my veins as I wriggle my stubby fingers into the narrow slit of the box, struggling to pull out that lone white envelope. Something about those white envelopes make me so happy. My mother probably thinks I'm crazy and I may actually be, but I love my little post box in the dingy, dark corner of my basement.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


The huge bathtub, filled with water and foam, reminded her of Dumbledore’s Pensive. As she approached the tub, she remembered how Harry had felt fear and nervousness as he approached it. The only difference was that she was not nervous, just happy and calm. Maansi stepped into the warm foamy water. For a few seconds, there was only clear water around her shins and then the foamy water came floating back, in an attempt to regain their previous state of calm. Then on realizing that there was an obstruction, it climbed upwards, creating a tiny strip of bubbles on her shin, just above the water level. For the next minute, the bubbles on the water were in complete unrest as Maansi slid her body slowly and fully into the water. Another minute and her whole body was blanketed with popping bubbles. 
As she palmed a little bit of the foam and blew it off her hands, she thought of a picture that she had found earlier. It was dated 15th of September and was a picture of her as a baby. She was 12 days old, and her mum was carrying her in one hand. The baby’s body was partially immersed in water, surrounded with soap bubbles, just like she was now. Apparently she had always enjoyed water because her baby self seemed to be smiling just like she was now. Maansi realized that she had a lot of such photographs. She made a mental note to buy a photo album and save all the pictures. She shook her head as she thought of the fact that photo albums were such an old school thing in this age of digitization. Yet nothing could beat the pure joy of turning a page f the album and laughing at the memories.
A big bubble that popped in the bathtub brought Maansi back to the present. She took the eucalyptus soap and began to slowly rub her arms. The smell brought back memories. Her school in the Nilgiris had a huge campus that was abundant with eucalyptus trees. So, many years at the school had made the smell of eucalyptus almost a symbol of home to her. It brought a smile to her face as she realized that she actually missed school. So many people that made her feel like she belonged. So many memories that words could not describe and time could not erase. The trees, the air, sky and the earth, all in perfect unison. Nothing could take away the joy it brought her when she thought of school. 
The smell of the soap, the warm water and the gush of memories sent her into a spiral of happiness. The water began clearing up and she could see more of her self under it. It was time. She got out of her tub, wiped herself and then put on her clothes. She was going to stay home so she wore an old black T – Shirt and shorts. Cream was lathered, hair was combed and a mug of hot coffee was made. 
She had a lot of work to do. Well she couldn't really call it work because she loved it. She was a content writer for an online magazine. She wrote a lot about food and restaurants and every experience was better than the previous one. Just recently, she was sent on an assignment to try a Lebanese restaurant. The freshness in their food was a taste to remember. She had taken her time to taste and relish the food and now articles had to be written and deadlines had to be met. She hoped that one day, maybe in another ten years or so, she would become the Editor of the same magazine or maybe start one of her own. That was her dream. She typed into her laptop and smiled. It was the smile that dreams brought about. The smile of hope.


The floor under me is really cold. My eyes open a crack and are blinded by bright light in front of me. I shut them, wait a few seconds and open them again. It takes time getting used to. I look around and it seems to be a corridor. How did I get on the floor and more importantly, where am I? I realize with the utmost horror that I can’t remember anything.  Everything is really fuzzy. I am a little scared. I try to move my legs but they seem frigid and numb. A frosty numbness. I bend my legs and try to get up. A throbbing pain shoots up my right leg. I scream. My leg hits the floor with a soft thud, and the numbness goes away. A few minutes. Then I try it again. The same pain shoots up my right leg again. Another scream and there is another soft thud. Come on Rachel. You can do this. Come on. You cant stay on the floor forever. I realize then with ta smile that I remember certain things. My name is Rachel Garcia and I am from New York. I work as a teacher in an elementary school. I am married to Jonathan Garcia and have two beautiful children – Brian and Brittany. But I still don’t remember where I am and how I got there. I have to get up. One last time, I bend my knees and try to put as little pressure on my right leg as I could. The almost too familiar pain regains strength but I push through. It is very difficult and almost brings me to tears but I finally manage to get up with the help of the wall. The wall feels cold. It is a very wintry cold and reminds me of snow and Christmas. It makes me smile a bit but I am immediately reminded off what situation I am in. I start to scream for help. No response. I hear movement behind me. I turn around and I see a door just a few steps ahead of me. It’s just a few feet Rachel. You can do it. Take it one step at a time. I take one step and I hear a little squelch. I look on the floor and there is blood. Red instead of the white floor that should have been there. The realization that it is my blood comes crawling in. I lean on the wall as I run my hands up my back and I feel a wetness down my back. My wet shirt feels cold on and a chilly wave of fear runs down my spine. I know I need help and the only way I can get it is by getting through that door. One painful step at a time and I get there. I lean on the door2 and let out a sigh of relief. The door handle seems cold too and I realize that everything around me is cold. 
There are people everywhere. People in white coats seem to be running. A kid on my right is sneezing. His mother wiping his nose with a tissue. Its a hospital. What luck? I’m in a hospital. Now all I need is to find somebody to help me. A nurse is coming towards me. "Hey lady, I‘m hurt. There is blood on my back. I think I was unconscious because I have no memory of what happenned before. I just found myself on the floor there. Hey,can you...". She walks straight past me. Maybe she didn't hear me. Its okay. There are a lot of nurses in a hospital. Lets find another one. Another nurse comes from the left. "Hey nurse. Can you help me. I’m injur..." . And just like the first nurse, she has walked past me too. The nurses here are really mean. Once I get out of here, I’m going to sue them for not doing their job. They are all acting like I don't exist. I'm going to find a doctor. 
I look around, anger seeping through my calmness. Every touch of the wall seems icy. Every eye that’s on me, cold and forbidding. Then, ahead of me, I see a familiar shirt moving. I realize that it is my husband and he has brought both of our children. I start screaming out for them. I realize that I don't know why they are here but i continue to scream. They don’t hear me. I take a few steps, ignoring the pain that feels like it could cripple me. I keep walking, one step at a time. Seeing my husband and children seems to have had a positive effect on me and I find it a little easier to ignore the pain. I try and pick up my pace, all the while screaming and trying to not lose sight of my husband. 
They turn into a room on the left. I pick up my pace a little more. When I reach the door of the room I breathe a sigh of relief. I look into the room. Somebody is lying on a hospital bed but I can’t see who it is.  There are doctors and nurses around the bed and my husband and children are around it too. I notice that my husband is crying. Oh no. is somebody is sick? Has his father’s cancer returned? I realize that while Jonathan and Brittany are crying, Brian seems to be looking around. His eyes go over the whole room and finally fall on me. He smiles and says, “mommy!” I call out for him and he starts tugging at his father’s hand. 
Jonathan says, “Brian, yes it is mommy. But everything is going to be alright.” 
Brian continues to tug and I find myself wondering why Jon is not letting him go when I am right here.
Brian is still saying, “Mommy, mommy. She is here.”
Jon says “Yes son, she is here....” and Brian pulls away.
I want to take another step but all that walking has exhausted all my energy and I just leaned on the frame of the door. Then I start calling Jon as well but he doesn't respond. 
I hear Jon say, “Brian, where are you going?  Don’t you want to see your mother for one last time? Brian, don’t run away from me…” as Brian runs to me and his hand goes straight through my stomach.
Over the crying and screaming, I hear Jon say, “Brian, she is dead.”


The thud of rain hitting the red terracotta roof, trickling down the crevices of each red tile and the soft thulp as the rain disrupts the...