Nani

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She was there when I was born more excited than anyone. As I was growing up she’s my number one fan and my most trusted confidant.

First time I broke my heart over a boy, she did not laugh at me. She hugged me and whispered , ” I know it hurts now but I am very sure you are going to get over him sooner than you think. You will even find all this funny someday.” Drying my tears, she handed me a glass of warm milk and tucked me in bed like a little girl.

Most of the useful things I know I learned from her. She taught me how to bake. She taught me how to dance. She taught me how to care for my potted plants.

I sneaked out of the house once before high school graduation, caught by my father as I was returning home, she saved my hide from my father’s wrath saying, ” The girl is young only once let her have some harmless fun.”

Smiling as I reminisce, my grandmother’s unconditional love, I miss most of all now that I have a family of my own.

©JMKhapra

Rants of A Sleep Deprived Video Editor

I was sitting at the editor’s lounge sipping a cup coffee trying to keep myself awake after enduring a not-a wink-of sleep one week editing marathon when one of the editors I worked with sat beside me. Mr. Editor has been friendly with me since I started working for this company, if not over friendly. But hey, I tend to like everybody I meet until they piss me off.

” Editor A won’t work with me. I think he is jealous of me.” he declared looking forlorn. ” He asked Mrs. Supervisor to remove me from the project.”

Now us editors get paid by the number of hours we edit a tv show, music videos, documentaries or video presentations. If you are really good at your job and don’t think sleep is important then you’ll earn a lot of money in a short time. If a producer offers you to edit a daily or weekly program as the master editor then you hit the jackpot. No need to worry when the next project is coming along. Plus you get to choose who you work with. Most of us relied either on our skill or charm to get signed up for a job. Some producers feel better working with one editor over another. Efficiency regardless.

So back to Mr. Editor. I knew what he was getting at. I was sleep deprived for one week because I was working on a new tv show launching in two days. It was a daily show. And I was the master editor. I already selected the editors I would be working with and discussed their corresponding editing schedules with Mrs. Supervisor. I knew Mr. Editor wanted me to include him. I also noticed that yes Editor A have some kind of an attitude problem. So I felt sorry for Mr. Editor and I also thought his editing skill was up to par. He might be of help to me. How wrong was I.

The pilot episode of my new daily show was a success when we first aired it on tv. We got the highest tv rating for that day compared to the other tv programs in the same network. The editing was flawless, remarked the Master of Master editors. The producers and the CEOs were ecstatic. But the pressure was escalating for me and my team. We needed to whip up the same amount of effort with less amount of time everyday.

Being an OCD editor (obsessive compulsive disorder) is not a disadvantage but a must. One typo can get you fired. How often did I cringe when I watched my work finally showing on television. My heart palpitated every time. Watching out for a jump cut ( when you don’t cut the video properly and one frame gets in between frames), a bad dissolve or a spelling typo. These kind of errors that I might have neglected to check give me nightmares when finally I am able to sleep. To avoid those I went over each videos as much as I can or as much time allowed me to. For this particular program I designed a uniformed look through out the one hour show. Subtlety and neatness added an elegant touch to this otherwise tacky tv series. I could not emphasize these enough to my co-editors who were working on each fifteen minutes content of the program. The four of them would edit one video each and I would then whisk the whole thing together for the perfect finish. Sounds easy? Most of the time I ended up re-editing all of the videos, embed graphics and if I was really unlucky lay in the musical scoring as well . I would be working until only a minute is left before the show needed to air on tv. I could not even excuse myself to pee. Waiting outside were producers who were ready to be wheeled to a hospital suffering from a heart attack. One almost did. I am talking millions of money flushing down the drain if we don’t get the show on tv on time. The show’s sponsor spots were filled. It takes very little to alienate the advertisers.

Mr. Editor started working with us and decided that he was better than all of us and that his fifteen minute video should stand out. So he peppered the frames with flashy wipes and mtv-ish transitions. Transitions are graphic designs we used to change from one scene to another. Sometimes if he was in a generous mood he’ll put color tints on scenes regardless if it was appropriate but just because, hey man, it’s cool. Rad. High five.

Needless to say my blood pressure skyrocketed every time I would receive his videos. Yes, more coffee please but instead of sugar mixed it with Redbull.

When a batch of interns descended upon us, I hit the roof. One night on his shift I saw him curled in a sleeping bag with an intern doing his job. He got a sound lashing from my coffee/ Redbull laced tongue. Next morning he ran crying to Mrs. Supervisor and told her I am meany and I was bullying him. The nerve! Like me once upon a time, Mrs. Supervisor felt sorry for him. She asked me to meet her for coffee (more coffee was just what I needed before I turned into a lunatic) and related to me what all Mr. Editor lamented to her. I sounded like an Editor-zilla from his account of what had happened. Wearily, I tried to explain my side but I don’t think I changed Mrs. Supervisor’s perception of me as a fire spitting dragon.

Of course I stopped talking to Mr. Editor after that and I realized nobody wanted to work with him because it was impossible to work with him but somehow he always ended up being the victim. We did manage to acknowledge each other with a slight nod of the head when we happen to pass by each other on the hallway of the new editing suite but that’s after a couple years when I have sort of forgotten what he did. But as you can see not really.

A Patch of Paradise in The Himalayas

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painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

 

Twin engines roared mightily into the desert and echoed all around disturbing the silence of no man’s land. Infinite sandy hills rolling in the distance. Cadmium yellow landscape contrasted by cobalt blue sky breaking the monotony. The wind hissed as it passed by me. I clung tightly on my husband’s waist. The vastness of the arid place threatened to engulf me. We rode on destination unknown. The desert whistled a lonely tune.Then all of a sudden it sprung into view. An oasis carved down below. My companions parked their muscular bikes. Standing by the cliff we wondered how can this fecundity thrives on this sterile land. Our eyes followed the water’s origin. An eternal flow of snow melting from the peaks of the Himalayan mountain breast feeding this garden of Eden.

 

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

© JMKhapra

* I painted this landscape when we went on a bike trip to Ladakh in the Himalayas.

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A Queen Without A Castle

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Illustration by Harry Clarke

The old do envy the young indeed! These budding blossoms primed for the adventures of life. Their first kisses, first heartbreak and first love thrills. Awakening to truth and clarity is not far behind. Some will embark on a futile search for the meaning of life. Then in frustrations will hurl infinite questions that have no answers. Oh the passions and the disillusionments that will oscillate their body and souls. Those were my thoughts as I gazed upon an elderly lady from across the flat who was watching wistfully the young girls playing in the park. Three generations of women, the past, present and future, we were like the circle of life representations.

Quite frequently in the afternoons I see her sitting elegantly in her balcony. Her dignified head titled slightly. I could see she must have been very beautiful once. Her features are regal. An arrogant nose softened by doe like eyes.

I often made up stories in my head about her past. Of how this aristocratic personage had fallen in deep destitution. Their flat was the shabbiest among the colony. Paint chipping off the wall. Undusted windows and lopsided walls.The abode is decorated with lonely ornaments of neglect. A stark contrast to her constant well heeled appearance. My imagination led me to a possibility that she maybe born into nobility. A princess who was dethroned in a bitter twist of fate. She eloped with a poor man, perhaps? I am always amused seeing her with royal bearing alighting from her beat up Maruti Suzuki as if she’s stepping out from a golden carriage. Lifting her shimmering floor length Shalwar Kameez gracefully, she would ascend the stairs as if on the top a throne was waiting for her.

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When Days Were Young And Filled With Laughter

Illustrated by Umberto Brunnelesci

Summer had come, and the sun was at its brightest, but the wind was cool still. A group of friends decided it was too lovely a day to spend inside a classroom. A plan was formed. We will all meet at my house and proceed to a nearby waterfall. Ton-ton falls it was called. The house where I lived during high school was inside the campus, and my parents worked there. Ten paces from the abode were one of the gates to the compound with a shade from which my friends would be waiting until my parents depart for work. We were skipping classes that day, so my parents could not know, or we would all be busted. Ate Luz, a cousin of mine now deceased, God bless her soul, was one of the conspirators. As soon as mother and father were out of sight, I beckoned my friends to come, all of them more or less a dozen, to the house to prepare for the adventure. It was going to be more than an hour walk through a jungle. Ate Luz then proceeded to cook our picnic food. Chicken Adobo included.

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A Remorseful Succubi

Illustration by Harry Clarke

Beauty and youth. What a dazzling combination. To bewilder and to sparkle. Days filled with sunshines. And men worshipping at her feet. Love was a game she played with wanton and mischief. Never lacking in affections and adorations. Long curvy limbs draped in elegance gliding across the room. Luxuriant tresses falling on her shoulder, parting in the middle concealing a corner of her dark smoldering eyes. Her red pouty lips in a half smile. Who can resist her? A waft of her perfume caressed the cheeks of those she passed by. And she is never forgotten.

She preyed on men for their vanity. Narcissism drives these fools to pursue her relentlessly. Remorse for these men she had none. Most often the ego was shattered more than the heart. But once or twice in her wild abandon innocents were trampled upon. Usually unsuspecting girlfriends. Occasionally she is left to wonder what are these fine women doing with this kind of men. And there was one in particular she could not forget. Christina was her name.

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I Walked One Day With A Friend

And wished the day would never end. Says below a dainty drawing of two young girls walking hand in hand towards the sunset. A poster which I displayed in my room when I was a kid. A testament on how valuable friendships were to me. Making friends then did not require an effort. We laughed at the same jokes and we were best friends forever. We liked the same movie star. ‘ She’s so pretty!’ and we were ready to swear to go to college together. I told her about my crush and vice versa. And we were ready to die for each other. Okay that one is an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. My happy days of friendship after childhood’s innocent mingling were my student days. Primary, high school and college. When responsibilities were non existent and laughters were abundant.

But growing up why did it all became so complicated? That even with the proliferation of social media which made keeping and reconnecting to friends so easy like never before do most of us feel still unconnected and misunderstood?

Socrates used the term philos to mean love in the sense of a friend and Eros as the god of Love and Desire. Socrates believed the best of all possessions is a sincere and good friend. But how do you define a good friend? And how do you know if you yourself have been a good friend?

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A Mysterious Death In The Village

Rahul sat restless besides his mother. He could not understand why she would not allow him to go out and celebrate with his friends. He missed watching the final match on tv and did not see how the game was won. The whole country was gripped by cricket fever yet their village was silent as a tomb. Comparing it to a tomb he thought was appropriate since someone had died. Someone important. An old man who was look upon as a benign leader of the community. His death was gruesome and kind of strange. Leaving the villagers mystified and puzzled. But Rahul did not really know him and he found it hard to mourn for a man he have not even met. And that it happened in the most inconvenient time. The fireworks from other villages lighting the sky every now and then were an irritating reminder of what he was missing.

” The bull was there watching from outside the hospital when babaji was taken there. As if making sure he was dead.” One of the old ladies whispered through her ghunghat. The women sitting with her including his mother clucked their tongues in horror and amazement. ” And again the bull appeared in the crematorium when they were burning his body.” The women shuddered. “Eh bagwan!” (Oh my god). One of them muttered. Rahul stood up feeling impatient with the women’s superstitious tales. He wanted to know what was happening in the rest of the country. He could only imagine that everyone’s heart like him was filled with pride for his nation’s cricket team. It took after all a very very long time before they could take home the World Cup trophy again. Continue reading

Tokophobia

20120803-105231.jpg ” You’re pregnant! You’re pregnant!” her mother kept saying. She stared at her mother feeling sick. She did not know who had gotten her pregnant.

“ We have to find you a man to keep you warm at night. It’s painful being pregnant.” Her mother added. Looking at her very strangely.

She was holding her stomach. Something was moving in there. Her eyes grew large. She felt sick again.

She went to school the next day thinking her future was ruined. She kept thinking about the horrible experience of delivering a baby. The pain, the dampness and cold. She did not know how she knew about those feelings. Her young mind must have accumulated it from stories she had read.

“I have to lose the baby!” Continue reading

The Shepherd’s Masterpiece

“There is a ghost up that tree.” said the shepherd. The sheep beside him looked up as if to say, ” So let it be how does it bother us.” With many sheep in the area, there was hardly any grass left for grazing. This particular sheep with the fluffiest wool was grazing on a lone yellow flowered plant. But one can’t really call it grazing as it was so gentle with the flower it was more like kissing.

The shepherd had let this sheep grow its wool without shearing it for last three season. The fluffy wool reminded him of one rockstar’s hairstyle whose name he could not even recall properly. There was a stick in the shepherd’s hand forked at the other end. He suddenly realized it and scratched a few lines on a moss covered rock in comfortable reach of his stick.

Not stopping he went on to write his name, drew a few symbols like at the rate sign, an exclamation mark and dot, dot, dot. Got up and went to the other side of the rock to continue his masterpiece. His pants became green at the back because of moss. Continue reading