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Everyone loves stories. Everyone has a story to tell.


Jolly Datta

Viraar Fast

This story is the story of many women in India, who commute via public trains and buses to work places, schools, colleges and wherever it is they need to go. It is not the first time that someone has chosen to tell this story. Nevertheless it is important to share this again and again – how something as simple as a daily commute could be a brutal struggle and many a times even disrespectful experience. 
Our storyteller draws an uncanny similarity between her situation and the Hindu scripture, Geeta / Gita. 
I was rushing from the central line platform to the western line platform. I had to catch the 9.30 train to Andheri. It was already 9.25 pm. That day Indrayni express was a bit late to enter the Dadar platform. May be 10 minutes late! But those 10 minutes were the most expensive 10 minutes of my life. Those 10 minutes showed me the brutal reality of life also taught me to believe and have faith in the supreme power that rules the universe.
I took the risky way of running across the railway tracks to reach the platform on time where the train would halt. It was 9.28 and I could see the train approaching the platform. I was still on the tracks attempting to jump up the platform that was a bit high for me. I saw someone from the corner of my eye lending me a hand to pull me up to the platform. I grabbed it and jumped up. By the time I could brush off the dirt from my hands, my helper was gone. Felt like a strong masculine hand…
I felt the gust of air on my face as the train entered the platform. But I was not in front of the ladies compartment. So I had to run towards it treading the heavy crowd, pushing people coming across the other way just to reach on time. Being new to Bombay, I was not used to the “train systems”. All I knew was I had to be in the ladies compartment or the 12th coach. I kept running with my backpack filled with all my study materials for Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and my purse with very little money and train passes. I had to save all of my assets in this struggle of boarding a trainin the busiest city of India.
When I reached the 12th coach, it was jam packed to the brim and with several hanging women who seemed well practiced in that position. I tried to board the train but was pushed away only to crash land on the moving crowd and take down few with me on to the concrete floor. Bruised from my elbows and knees, I felt numb from the thought that I missed the last train to Andheri and the next train was “Viraar Fast”. For people who never lived in Bombay, it’s just a train. In reality, it is the most crowded train and the toughest to get onto and it doesn’t stop at all stations.
With my apprehensions building up and in preparation for the unknown, I spent the next several minutes remembering all the shlokas (hymns) I knew from Geeta, trying to muster as much courage as I could. Though it seemed like a long wait, Viraar Fast entered the platform with the same gush of wind and the loud whistle, making its presence felt through its ground rumbling vibrations.
I was terrified to see that the 12th coach was already overflowing and I had no courage to hang on to anyone’s hand. It suddenly occurred to me that this train had another ladies compartment, the 9th coach. I didn’t remember why I was advised against 9th coach but got tempted to check on it. To my surprise, it was almost empty with few women at the door. I jumped into that compartment with a feeling of achievement and worth for the wait. Two other girls also followed me and they seemed as confused as I was. Probably they were new to Bombay too and were not aware of the rules for the “9th coach”. And neither of us could imagine how the next half hour would be!
“Viraar Fast”, as the name suggested, was headed to “Viraar” and it stopped only at major stations and hence was “Fast”. The next stop was Bandra and then Andheri, my destination. The train took off and I was enjoying the cool breeze after a long day. I traveled to Pune 3 days a week to attend GRE coaching classes and rest of the days I was in Bombay working odd jobs to stretch out a living. Closing my eyes, I just wanted to relax and let go of all the exhaustion and look forward to a sumptuous dinner. I was famished…
It was a fruitful day and it all seemed to be falling in place for me. I was doing well in my classes and mock tests and I was feeling hopeful to make it through the GRE that year and be in the United States of America to pursue my master’s degree. As my mind was reflecting through the eventful day I felt the train slowing down. Bandra was approaching and the train was about to stop. Then it would be Andheri and I would be home.
As the train entered the platform I could hear the cacophony of rushing people mostly men, trying to beat the crowd to make it to the train as soon as it stopped if not before. I was still quite relaxed thinking that I was in ladies compartment and I would be immune to the mob. But, as the train was coming to a halt, I saw a multitude of men barging into the “9th coach” ladies compartment and filling up the entire coach in no time even before I could even react to whole situation.
Why are men coming into the ladies compartment? How will I tread this mass and reach the door? What will these people do to me? Those were the few questions along with several that raced through my mind at that moment and I had no answer to any. I exchanged glances with the other two girls and they were equally confused if not more. Neither of us knew that the 9th coach was ladies compartment only till 10pm and it was 10.01 pm when the train entered Bandra station.
9th coach was filled with men in no time and I was being crushed from all sides. I held on to my purse across my chest as tightly as I could. It was also a reaction to protect myself from being vulnerable. Needless to say, I could already feel several hands on me and all over me and I had absolutely no power to defend. It was a mixed feeling of disgust and anger that was gradually taking over my mind. The feeling of helplessness was unbearable to the point of hatred. My mind wanted to numb me down to deny the feel of the hungry cannibals around me and wanted to take me to my eternal abode of sustenance, the Geeta.
As I started picturing the scene of the battlefield of Kurukshetra and Krishna explaining Arjun why he should fight, I realized that I was trapped in the Chakraview, labyrinth, which was impossible for me to escape without Krishna’s help. At that moment I felt a sudden sense of anguish surging in me, questioning the Almighty, why I had to go through this test of disgrace; what had I done to deserve the worst form of insult to womanhood? I demanded an explanation from Krishna for bestowing this misfortune unto me and questioned his existence. It was only Krishna who could save me from disappearing from the face of the earth and only a miracle could restore my faith in Him.
As I felt my blood boiling through my veins and rushing to my brains my ability to think was gradually slowing down and my helplessness was killing me even before my windpipe would be choked. Sucked between gripping hands I felt my clothes getting torn and my chest getting heavy with each passing moment. All I could scream in my mind with my eyes tightly shut was “hey Krishna”! I had totally lost the sense of time and had no idea how far I was from my destination.
” Do you want to get off at Andheri?” I vaguely heard a voice. I couldn’t open my eyes in an unknown fear. I heard the voice again and this time I wanted to make sure it was real. So I looked around and saw a handsome gentleman formally dressed in a lemon yellow shirt and navy blue and cream striped tie pushing his way through and trying to reach me and asking the same question which I initially thought was part of the cacophony. I replied “yes”. As soon as he was close enough, he pulled those starving men off me and said, “Hold me tight and I’ll take you to the door”. I immediately told him that there are two other girls behind me. He asked me not to worry. As advised, I held him tight around his waist and my head sunk in his chest. My eyes were tightly closed to deny the hideous truth around. I felt him freeing the other two girls and asking them to hold him from his back. Wading through the thick swarm of men he rescued all the three girls out of the ugliest dungeon and was set to reach the door of the “9th coach”. The 20 step journey from one end of the compartment to the door seemed endless. I didn’t want to think any further. All I knew was, it was then or never.
I imagined the battlefield of Kurukshetra where Pandavas were surrounded by a huge army, hundred folds bigger than their own and all they had was their charioteer, Krishna. With Krishna on their side they could win any battle against the entire universe! So is the strength of Krishna, so is his charisma!
Twenty steps became ten and then five.  Our struggle to reach the door started to seem successful. Once again I could feel the cool fresh breeze on my back as we almost reached the exit, my hands still clutched around his waist and my legs tightly curled around the strong calves of my “Krishna”. My eyes were still closed and my mind was still in disbelief. I didn’t have the exit mantra to the Chakraview but with Krishna on my side, the battle of Viraar fast was no less than a piece of cake.
The train started slowing down and finally came to a halt and he got off the train along with three girls clung to him. After landing on the platform, I dared to open my eyes and release my clasp. I looked at my angel and said, “thanks”. He smiled at me and said nothing. In his silence he spoke a thousand words and in his smile he had a blissful assurance. I stood there in awe as he merged in the myriads leaving no trace. Against the humongous army of flesh eating men, stood one man with his immense power of morality to squash the blasphemous intentions of his peers.
Restoring my faith in his omnipresence, Krishna came for my rescue proving yet again that he resides in every man! It’s not the strength of the enemy but the faith in ourselves that helps us to win any battle. And every battle ends in the victory of dharma (righteousness) over adharma, be it in Kurukshetra or Viraar fast.

Nurturing Friendship

Speaking out and seeking help is often the most difficult first step for people who witness turbulence, violence and disrespect in personal relationships. What is even more difficult after the first step is taken, is finding support within friends and family. This is a story about a friend coming to the rescue of another friend. 

We were “fetus” friends, as I describe! Our mothers were friends and we were born couple of weeks apart. Hence we knew each other since we were “formed”. She was big, bold and dominating. I was petite, quiet and submissive. She was the dare devil, ready to break all rules, I was “mom-fearing” and bound by rules. There was nothing much in common yet we were connected strongly by an indefinable bond. She was a leader, full of confidence and a brilliant performer. And I was a learner, lacking confidence and afraid of performance. 

Yet, I was there for her whenever she would need me, quietly watching over her shoulder every move she made and appreciating every milestone she achieved. We never realized as kids what bound us close when we had hardly anything in common. But destiny had it’s own ways of testing our friendship. As we entered our teens, she was sent to a boarding school and I was left alone. I felt a part of me was snatched away and my heart kept bleeding from that blow. I eagerly waited for the first few months to go by and for her to come home for vacations and we would be together again. And then when she was back, I was curious to know all about her.

“Did you miss me?” Was the first thing I asked with lot of enthusiasm.

“No”, was the short reply. “I made lot of friends and I am very happy in my hostel”.

My tender heart was broken for a moment but it knew how to let go.

“She is very happy to be in the hostel”, I told myself. “I should be happy for her as she adjusted to her new environment. I don’t need to watch for her anymore”.

As years passed by, we grew up differently and our personalities were totally different. We met during vacations but it never felt the same anymore. After high school it was my turn to go to the hostel and again distance got between us. She never liked writing letters so there was no communication as such (there was no internet back then). We both finished our graduation and were getting ready to pursue further degrees. Distance kept growing and we kept moving far from each other. And then it was time for her wedding; I couldn’t even attend as I was studying abroad. That was the final nail in the coffin and I knew that we will never be together again.

Years passed by and I kept looking for her in social networks and hoping for a reply to my email. But to my dismay, she was lost, lost in the chasm of the changing world. Deep in my heart, I still felt an emptiness, a gnawing concern, “Where is she? Is she OK?” Yet again, I consoled myself, “She is happy wherever she is. Just let her go…”

It was almost time for me to give up my search when finally I found her on Facebook! My heart swelled in melodies and my eyes moistened with tears. That moment of joy didn’t last long when I found out how she was! The bold, confident dare devil whom I knew had now become timid and fearful. How did it happen? What went wrong? She can’t be in depression!

My mind raced back to our childhood days when I used to silently watch over her shoulder to make sure that she was fine, it was all for a reason. Though I was timid and quiet, I was always sensitive and mature. Guarding her were my instincts and protecting her was my reaction. In an instant, I found a reason for my existence, a purpose for my life; to heal her wounds and to protect her vulnerability. I realized why I was protective about her, why I was not in peace while we were distant, why I missed her so much though she never did! Because she always resided in me. Separation was just an illusion.

I felt an excruciating pain mixed with infuriating anger to find her in distress. She was taken over by an anguish of grief which totally transformed her persona. A feeling of hopelessness had plagued her mind and her real self was lost. It was my turn to put her back together and wipe away the tears. I had to show her hope. I had to give her the courage to fight back and find her path to happiness.

Despite the physical distance, she could feel my presence around her and my healing touch. She started to believe in future. She started to breathe, and once again, she started to live! It was a new beginning, a new day with a new vision of a bright future where the past was just a bad dream. Just the feeling of togetherness was so fulfilling that she could welcome every day with renewed vigor, joy and cheer. It was still the same bond, the “fetal bond” with which we were born which was much stronger than the distance or the decades. Because certain relationships never change and are meant to be the way they are!

Authored By : Jolly Datta
Picture By : Soumi Haldar

Mother’s Speak

Happy Mother’s Day Ladies ! For Mother’s Day we asked a few of our storytellers, who are mothers as well, to write something about their experience as Mothers. This is what they had to say.

Count Your Blessing – Piya Mukherjee Kalra

We, mothers, often tend to take motherhood for granted. But motherhood does not come easy to many. A path that I have travelled and known. The emotional roller coaster, the physical turmoil and the social taboos make it a treacherous path to travel.  It is no short of miracles that I am a mother to two beautiful kids today. Yet, I am human and there are times in the day when I forget that journey and wear my Mama mask and yell and scream at them, holler them to pick up after their mess and finish their meals and homework on time. I beg and plead for a little quiet time so that I can do my things, read or scribble a few lines. 

As I write these few lines, there is a garbage truck being made of legos right under my feet and a plethora of human evolution related questions being asked simultaneously. I take in a deep breath and look at the two faces who desperately want me to shut the laptop and build some legos or read a science book instead, I remind myself – Count your blessing!  I try and remind myself of that very often, almost every single day. Mostly after I have thrown a huge drama or had a mommy meltdown moment. 

Motherhood began on Mother’s Day! –Jolly Datta

What is mother’s day? I never knew while growing up. We never celebrated in India. One day dedicated to thank mothers for all they do… Is that enough? I could never justify that. I always thought that no one can ever thank her mother enough. But still couldn’t reason out the need for celebrating mother’s day till I became a mother. And sure enough, it was on mother’s day!

May 9, 2010, Sunday morning, after partying till late night, my water broke at 5 am. I was 35 weeks pregnant. I was not sure at first if I should be happy or afraid. As we were rushing to the hospital, my mind kept flying back to my childhood. It was just yesterday when I was a child. It was time for me to bring another child into this world. The feeling of nurturing my baby inside me for 8 months, feeling her every movement, feeling her every mood was so mesmerizing that every minute of countdown seemed heavy. 

Numbed down to the spine by labor pains, I just wanted to divert my mind to a divine state of a magical beginning of my beautiful child. Listening to the Gayatri mantra and breathing deeply with every contraction I just wanted to feel how she moved her way out to make her presence felt. I was about to bring my baby into this world! The entire universe seemed to be showering it’s blessing on my child, and it’s strength on me to be reborn in the same lifetime. The first cry still echoes in my ears, the first feel on my bosom still send chills over me, the first glance of my angel still reminds me of one thought… “You are beautiful!”

In few moments, my life had a new beginning. It was a journey from a woman to a mother! And mother’s day got new meaning. It was ecstatic, it was enchanting, it was divine, it was spell bounding! Because …Motherhood began on Mother’s Day!


Motherhood is full of surprises – Anisha Mahajan

“Yipee”, cheerfully exclaimed my 10 year old darling daughter jumping from her chair, “Really Mom? You are the best!!”

It was a conversation we were having at our dinner table last evening, while enjoying the spicy desi(Indian) meal. My 14 year old son piped in, in his recently broken heavy voice, “that would be seriously awesome guys!”

I promptly interjected to make sure I don’t over-commit. ” We are not sure yet, but we are trying that you two get to make a visit to India this summer”.

Sometime back, there was only one conversation that would go like this in our house; getting a cat!!

What a contrast from just two years ago! I still remember vividly, sprawled leisurely on our Victorian King bed, the four of us, just lounging before bedtime on a warm summer evening, I had casually mentioned, “let’s go to India for a year or two!”. “What!”, ”Moving again!”, “Don’t even start this Mom!”, “You must be kidding!”, “India! No way” were the responses we got from the kids.

It had just been a year since we returned from our short stint at LA, back to our beautiful Boston home. The kids were starting to get back into their comfort zones (so were we) when suddenly this brilliant adventurous idea struck my mind.
We did go to India, for about two years and have the most beautiful memories to share and kids with drastically changed responses!

The Mothers In My Life –Suchorita Sinha

In motherhood, every moment is special. Here are few that were the cherries on the cake of my experiences with the three mothers in my life:
My Mumma (Mother) – ‘Even now, whenever I am at crossroads , an assurance from her that she agrees with my decision does wonders to my confidence’.
She has always been by my side, no matter what. She never turned her back or left me alone. She has grown with me, learnt ,accepted and supported my sane and insane thoughts and decisions.  I hope to become that rock for my daughter someday.
My other mother, my Mamuni(Mother In Law)  – ‘I have the hot mustard oil with garlic ready, come and sit for a massage’, she would call out to me every morning. 
I will never forget those months after I delivered my daughter, the impossible backaches and tiredness. My MIL diligently tended to me with daily hot oil massages and loads of healthy food, while being an arthritis patient herself. I recovered my strength and was relieved off my pains very soon. Even today, she packs lunches for us to work. Life surely changes after marriage, but in my case we still stay like kids, while she takes care of us.
Moi (Myself) – I became a mother even before I first met my daughter. I used to talk and sing to my baby bump and get responses back. But I never knew that my baby knew me as well until the moment when my hubby brought the howling and wailing baby to meet me for the first time. 
As soon as I cooed ‘Hi baby….’ , the baby went quiet and our eyes locked  , recognition in hers and tears in mine….

Why Write?

In the one year of our existence, we have heard several stories about conversations that our storytellers have had with their friends or acquaintances regarding their passion for writing. These (interesting) conversations have mostly happened after the storyteller has written a post /story, shared it on our blog and then subsequently posted the link for the blog on their own Facebook page. 

Conversation #1 
A friend or acquaintance :You write blogs now ? I never knew you were into writing. 
Storyteller :  Thank you. Hope you liked what I wrote. 
A friend or acquaintance : You should write a book someday. 
Storyteller : Thanks but not thanks (Sigh! ) 

Conversation #2 
A friend or acquaintance : Why do you write ? Every one has a blog these days, like what is the point ? 
Storyteller :  Err….. I don’t have a reason. I just like to. Why does anyone like to read or draw or paint or even cook or knit ? 

Conversation #3
A friend or acquaintance : How many people read you ? Are you popular ? 
Storyteller : “Facepalm” followed by silence 

Conversation #4
A friend or acquaintance : You have such a busy life – work, home and everything. When do you find time to write ? 
Storyteller :  All the time. I am always writing in my mind. 
A friend or acquaintance : Hmmmm. That sounds crazy. 

Most storytellers write because they simply love writing and it gives them a joy like nothing else does. So we asked one of out storytellers, Jolly Datta to write – why she writes, what she loves writing and how does she nurture her writing skills. Hear the storyteller in her own words ….

Why do I write? I never wondered why.

Thoughts swirl in my mind as I inhale, words pour out through my pen as I exhale.

I write for the love of life, I write for my free spirit, I write for my romantic heart. I learn from experiences, I live through hope and believe in destiny. Small things make happy, simplicity is my philosophy, humanity is my religion. To put myself in a nutshell- I write!

Coming from a literary background, it was natural for me to write. Never made an effort. Scribbling at the corners of textbooks, word arts at the margins of notebooks, passing love chits during class, writing poems on palms – all were different forms of nurturing the art of writing. I wrote about love, I wrote about life, I wrote about my experiences. The more I wrote, more mature I got. And I never realized how I nurtured my art of writing through the years of growing up. Today, as I write, it rekindles my romantic heart, arouses my desires and makes me fall in love time and again.

An engineer by profession and a mother of two, when do I get to write? Within the limited 24 hours a day, I have learned to write “on the go”. The swirling thoughts keep getting crammed in my mind waiting for an outlet, waiting for me to take a break from my routine and pour them out in 5 minute installments. Thanks to technology, Google drive has been a great safe keeper for all my write ups and I can access them from my computer, from my phone, from anywhere and anytime! Discovering my passion for writing, I realized that I don’t have to try too hard to find time. It’s the zeal to follow my passion which has been the true nurturer of my art of writing!

Written By : Jolly Datta,an engineer by profession, a poetess and a die hard romantic at heart and a mother of two beautiful children. 

Picture By : Soumi Haldar, our resident editor and photographer.  

Angels And Demons

A Short Story : Jolly Datta 
It was a chilly Friday night. She was alone and scared. Waiting in the corner of the Emergency Room (ER) she was shivering with cold, engulfed in pain and consumed with an unknown fear, the fear of loneliness, the fear of worthlessness and the fear of being unloved. Inflicted by a splitting headache, her migraine was causing hallucinations. She could feel the warm embrace of her mom, kissing her forehead, assuring her that everything would be fine. She could barely keep herself alert.  She saw a gentleman come and sit beside her as she struggled to smile. He could see that she was suffering and needed medical attention but couldn’t break the protocol of “waiting”.

Continue reading “Angels And Demons”

Love is beautiful, love is overrated.

Love is beautiful, love is overrated… But what is love?

We have all fallen prey to love without even knowing what is love. Love is life, love is power, love is obsession, love is desire. There is no life without love, yet we often fail to define the power of love. Sometimes we are obsessed with love and sometimes it is beyond our logical minds to explain the desire for love. But we love to say, “I’m in love”!

Keeping up with its pace and entwined in the labyrinth of life, we seldom ask ourselves, what do we love? We often accept what we are told to love. Love is illusion, love is enlightenment, love is conscience love is enchantment. Sometimes we are in the illusion of being in love and sometimes we feel enlightened after receiving love. Love awakens our conscience and our souls and we feel enchanted by love. But who knows what is love?

Love is inexplicable, love is unreasonable, yet, love is desirable, love is irresistible! 

Written by : Jolly Datta. Jolly Datta, the newest writer on the block is an engineer by profession, a poetess and a die hard romantic at heart and a mother of two beautiful children. 

Falling in love with life at mid-life

This is a response to the writing prompt – I knew it was different this time. I knew I was falling in love with … write about falling in love with things that you love to do, a place that you love to visit, a book/ movie or piece of music. You can write about falling in love with anything BUT NOT a person. 

Little things in life. Take the time to smell the roses ! 
Yes, I am in love! I am in love with life and its multicolored dimensions and with everything it has to offer which I never realized in my younger years!

May be I never had the opportunity and maturity to introspect into the details of the various aspects of life; life always came with an agenda and it’s associated challenges. There was always a plan of execution, an aspiration to succeed, ambition to exceed. And now, when I am finally exhausted of this rat race, I sit back and enjoy the simplest things in life which escaped my attention in the past.

Simplicity as it defines itself is the beauty of life. Waiting for the sun to rise and light up my day, to breathe in the fresh scent of the autumn flowers, to watch the sunset across the horizon and stare at the starry skies brings me the utmost joy and makes me realize how lucky I am to feel the kiss of the passing wind wrapping me tightly in its warm embrace and make me feel that I am alive!

And this time I know it’s different, and this time I am falling in love.

#celebrateloveeveryday #chatoveracuppa 

Written by : Jolly Datta. Jolly Datta, the newest writer on the block is an engineer by profession, a poetess and a die hard romantic at heart and a mother of two beautiful children. 

Picture by : Srishta Hazra. A fifth grader, Srishta loves to click pictures in his spare time that is when he is not at school or on the field playing a sport. He has an eye to appreciate and capture the little details in life. How often do we see someone so young stop to take a picture of a blooming rose ? 

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