La La Land – Chapter 4

Smoke drifted gently from one of the huts, as the lady of the house went about her task of preparing the day’s meal on a mud stove. It was fuelled by the wood bought home from the nearby jungle a few days ago.

It had been left to dry in the sun and now crackled and burned fiercely with its fellow branches, all of which had been chopped off the same tree.

It was soon joined by a couple of others of its ilk and their insistent crowing woke up some of the sleepy headed people around who stretched, yawned and reluctantly got up from their cots.

In the cow shed adjoining the milkman’s home, the cows were far more active. They munched happily on the straws provided by their owner before they would be milked and made loud moo sounds expressing their contentment with life in general.

Bright sunlight soon warmed the courtyards of homes and somewhere a mother was calling out to both her children, “Hey 24, call 10, breakfast is served!”

For you see the tribes of NLOO had one peculiar custom – They took their names very seriously and had devised various methods to be christened. For starters, they did not name their children immediately on birth.

It was only on the 21st day that a baby would be named. Now this was not any simple affair!

A large brass vessel which was the common property of the people and kept in the custody of the village Sarpanch would be bought specially for this occasion. It was filled to the brim with water and turmeric was liberally added to it and stirred, until it imparted its deep yellow colour to the liquid.

Then many strands of Bermuda Grass, locally known as Durva or Doob grass would be mixed in the water. Each family member (including the baby who was to be named) would be given a single grain of rice.

Each member would then keep a note mentally and mark his/her grain while standing around the vessel along with others. Before coming they would have already thought of a name they would like to give to the baby (in case they emerged victorious in the naming ritual), or they could decide one at the place itself.

The vessel was then tapped gently, and rice grains would start floating towards its centre where the baby’s grain lay on the blade. The people assembled would cheer enthusiastically for the family member they wanted to win. Each rice grain was egged on like participants in a race!

Whosoever’s rice would come closest to the baby’s grain would emerge victorious and the winner was met with raucous applause and whistles of celebrations!!

The name finalized, the infant would then be bathed in the same turmeric water and the Doob grass blades crushed and rubbed on its skin. The grass known for its innumerable health benefits, was an integral part of the rural medicine kit. Among its various benefits were its anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antiseptic properties.

The tribes believed it would protect the baby lifelong from various skin diseases including the dreaded leprosy.

However, sometimes the naming ceremony would end with unintended consequences. Once the grandfather of a child desirous of having his own name passed on to the future generation won the rice race.

Now the mother of the child was in a fix. How can she call the child by the same name as her father-in-law?! That would indeed be blasphemous!!

So, the child was promptly given a name based on some special characteristic trait in their personality and his/her identity would be formalized on this basis.

The local panchayat would then meet to debate and finalize the proposed name. This name could be given at any age, but it was not necessary that it stay with the person forever. It could again change with a change in circumstances.

It was such quirks that made life in La La Land so peculiar and different!!

All Illustrations have been done by Kishor Mistry and you can follow his Instagram account kishormistry_ for more wonderful art!

Copyright © 2023 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

The Saree

Green. The colour associated with nature. With prosperity and fertility. But neither of these emotions come to mind when I see you in green.

Love seeped in Red and admiration for you are the only things which fills my being when I see you in green.

For the green saree that drapes you, shimmers and shines with its eloquent design and motifs.

The tribal jewellery adorning your neck and wrists accentuates your beauty further. The look is completed with a slender belly chain around your waist which completes the ethnic accessory look.

But my focus is back on the saree. It suits you beautifully!

The 6 yards of its length drapes your body well and gracefully underlines your class and elegance.

Its touch from your ankle below to covering your torso above…and in between fitting in snugly at your waist; it does it all!

As though not satisfied with so much poise, the saree’s ‘fall’ rises up on your shoulder and drops elegantly on the other side.

This is in totally opposite direction to your hair which bewitches like a black night and cascades down in front, mesmerising all your admirers.

It is said a saree is a woman’s most seductive attire. It covers so much, yet is so sensuous.

The glimpse of a sliver of your waist, the smoothness of your back exposed in the arc of the blouse cut, the way it shows off the curves in your figure; all of it make it a timeless piece of fashion!

And you epitomise it all when you wear one.

As for me, well I wish that just for a few moments I could be that saree; an un-stitched stretch of fabric weaved with love and wrapped around your body, comfortable in your touch while holding you in my arms.

Saree Illustration by Divyasha Thakur. This is my 2nd collaboration with her after Passion. She is a student of Fashion Design and currently pursuing her studies from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. 

Divyasha has been an avid lover of art since her early days. It was only during the pandemic she discovered her passion for digital art. The medium and the creativity involved in it, helped soothe her frayed nerves during lockdown which had upended life in umpteen ways.

You can visit her Instagram page @thakurdivyasha to follow some awesome work! 

Copyright © 202 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

La La Land – Chapter 3

The news had spread like wildfire in the village. Shikari had successfully hunted down a Sambar!

That meant food for the entire village tonight!!

There was a buzz in the air, and everyone had gathered in the village square to receive the men who were carrying it back.

This was met with loud cheers from the villagers including Mafia Mona who had scrambled back quickly from her aborted fishing trip.

Later –

*venison is deer meat

Imrul was one of the wealthiest members of the tribe. He had inherited a flourishing business from his father and had expanded it further with his sharp intellect and enterprising nature.

But more importantly he was a connoisseur in all matters related to gastronomy. In fact, Intel Imrul on every month’s full moon night would host a dinner in his home and serve the best mutton to his guests.

He would use these occasions to select meat from amongst the finest of the goats by conducting their catwalk.

Yes, a catwalk of goats! Would you believe that? But when it comes to food and Imrul you must learn to believe anything.

Anyways a few days before full moon, Imrul would approach the friendly butcher and ask him to show all the goats from which he would choose. The butcher in turn would take him to an open field just behind his shop, where the parade of the goats would be held.

A curtain made from sack cloth hung on the door at the rear of the shop. These sacks would arrive in dozens every month at the butcher’s filled with goat feed. Little did the goats know they in turn would be fed to a food buff like Imrul on some blessed day!

The curtain was soon parted to reveal the ‘show.’

An old radio gleefully played out the popular song “ଆହା କୁହ ନା ତୁମେ କିଗୋ ମୋତେ ଭଲ ପାଓ ନା “and to its tune the goats did a catwalk…or was it a goat walk? 😄

See I told you he was called Intelligent Imrul for a reason. He simply had Intel Inside!

So yes, coming back to the feast, it continued well into the night. Our La La Land folks were clearly in a jovial mood and going to sleep was the last thing on their minds.

Dear Reader,
Hope you find the character Intel Imrul interesting! 

All Illustrations have been done by Kishor and you can follow his Instagram account kishormistry_ for more wonderful art. 

I have also penned a few traits of Imrul's personality in a short verse below. Do leave your thoughts and comments and as always I look forward to replying to them 😊

The Intel Imrul Poem

People are jealous; body shaming me by calling me fat,
For they can find no shortcoming other than that!

I am wise, my brains as sharp as a razor,
I can pinpoint opportunities just like a laser!

Yes I am fond of eating, that is my passion!
When I get so much happiness, then why do I ration?

I am rich, successful and nobody's fool,
I romance food and my name is Intel Imrul!

Copyright © 202 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

My Birthday poems

Hi!

When I came back to Odisha (at the end of 2017) on a work sabbatical, birthdays for me until then, were regular annual affairs that were to be celebrated with the usual thank you messages and an odd get together with family and friends.

Not to say I did not look forward to them. I did. It was a special date in the calendar and once my boss had joked that he had recruited me because the date (19th) added up to the digit One which he considered lucky!

However, after my health suffered a serious setback in 2018 I started to realise the beauty of life. My perspectives changed. The small things in my daily routine began to matter and I started appreciating them and being thankful for my existence.

Till then my physical body had been just a medium to perform the usual biological functions for which it had been created for. Now, I became more aware of it. What I ate, how many hours I slept, the daily exercises to keep fit – they all began to matter.

I started loving life and prayed to God to keep me alive till such time I am really old 🙂 🙂

I decided to live life to the full and so birthdays assumed a greater significance. To celebrate each milestone I began drafting short poems and posting them with my pic on social media. The poem tried to capture the essence of what life meant to me in the past 12 months.

So, presenting below are these poems since 2019. I hope to keep updating them each year and hopefully God will be kind enough to help me in my prayers.

Cheers to Life! Hope you enjoy reading them.

2022
Life has been beautiful, what else can I say?
For all the small miracles that come my way.

HE listens to all that I ask for and plead,
Such Graciousness; perhaps due to past reflections or my good deed?

On my Birthday today, as I look upwards to Heaven;
I send God a flying kiss of thanks, as I turn 40 Seven!

2021

Just 'parking' my thoughts on my Birthday,
Life seems so full of possibilities at every step of the way.

There are unfulfilled desires and dreams to live,
Incomplete works to which I need time to give.

The mind keeps travelling to places known/ unknown,
Yet bound by current situation I am home.

Sometimes I fret about the small things going wrong;
Yet there are people with bigger worries but still going strong.

For life and death, happiness and despair are all part of the mix,
As time rolls on, today it turns me Forty 6.

2020
Can there be smoke without a fire?
Does a heart beat without desire?

At sunrise today I turned Forty + 5
Thankful to God for His bounty; for being alive!

Life's a maze - smile through the joys and pain,
Live-in the Now, for this moment will never come again!

2019
What is Age? It is just a number
Time keeps rolling on from Jan to December,
AT 44 today, I am a lot wiser but still not old,
All my life's learnings have turned into gold.

Jhumka Jhumur – Episode 6

Women Empowerment

Episode Background

This has been an oft discussed topic since many years. Gender equality, women in labour force, women representation in Parliament or State assemblies and even their prize money in sports like Tennis, have held centre stage on various platforms.

Wikipedia defines Women’s empowerment as accepting women’s viewpoints or making an effort to seek them and raising the status of women through various means like education and training.

The 1st line in above paragraph is crucial. Seeking women’s viewpoints on the subject and trying to action on them would be a good starting point.

This chapter is a small step in that direction. While we may hear speeches of varying lengths on the topic, what does an average middle income homemaker seek for her empowerment?

Read on below to find out our protagonist Jhumka Jhumur’s thoughts on the topic when asked by her son Ishaan on same 🙂

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Dear Reader,

What do you think of Jhumka's answer to her son? What are your views on this subject of Women Empowerment?  

Do share your thoughts and look forward as always to hearing from you 😊

This episode comes to life through the Illustrations by Vartika Bhonsle. She is a student of Fashion Communication and a graduate from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. 

She loves illustrating people and animals in their various moods and you can visit her Instagram page @yellowlittlelamp to follow some awesome art! 

Copyright © 2022 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

Unchain my Love

The lover's fingers caress your hair; twirling around those thick locks; the long strands of which as black as a starless night, weaving a magic of their own.



They cascade down from the nape of your neck, through the naked shoulders and ending somewhere above your waist.



Those thick broad locks and your slender waist. Like a silk curtain hiding a secret.



Man touched silk and silk grazed skin.



They come to life!



Fluttering like a wave your tresses catch the wind and share their untold joys with it.



And then the wind carried your fragrance and the secrets of those black tresses across the blue waters and open sky.

'Girl with Tresses' - Illustration by Vartika Bhonsle. You can follow her Instagram page @yellowlittlelamp for some wonderful art.

She is a student of Fashion Communication and a graduate from NIFT, Bhubaneswar.

Copyright © 2022 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

The times are a changing

“Papa let’s play hide and seek” tells my son excitedly. “There are lots of places to hide here!” he continues, the smile broadening as he surveys the space around him.

I quickly nod in affirmation wanting to participate along with my son’s mood for some fun and games.

“Okay papa you stand here, look in the opposite direction and count until 15.

“You have 3 minutes to catch me.” he rattles off the instructions. “Once the time is up and you are unable to find me, I score a point otherwise the point is yours,” he sums it up.

Fair enough I say and give him a thumbs up.

He then takes my phone, opens the clock app  and starts the stopwatch quickly mimicking the action simultaneously on his phone too. He of course has been gifted the gadget to cope with his online studies and now carries it with him where ever he goes, even to the bathroom!

As I turn around, he quickly disappears behind me in search of an appropriate hiding place. I look straight ahead in front of me counting the seconds and then glance at the phone to check the time.

15 seconds is up and I dart away to search for him around the maze of clothes hanging on the shop floor by the dozens. For you see we are out shopping in a mall and his mother is somewhere on the same floor choosing new sets of office wear for herself.

It was then that we father-son duo decided to kill time by playing hide and seek. I make my way quickly around the rows of hangers holding an array of branded tops, shirts, designer salwars and shoes.

I duck amidst the rows hoping to catch a glimpse of my son’s feet hidden somewhere behind them and open my scoring with a point. He seems to have done a good job for though the mall floor is wide and open I cannot sight him.

The stopwatch is now ticking away furiously in my trouser pockets and I pull it out to check it. It is racing towards the 3 minute mark and I hasten my steps and make a wider sweep of the floor. Just when it seems my son will be winning, a slice of luck favours me.

It is only when I go past the last row that I happen to casually glance at the tall mirror which covers almost the entire wall on one of its sides. He is crouching behind a row of floral patterned dresses unaware that there is a mirror opposite!

I snoop on him from behind while he is still trying his best to snuggle and hide his tall frame behind the women skirts. As I rush towards him in a delighted squeal he turns around startled with a grin which quickly turns to disappointment on realizing he was just few ticks away from victory.

Mission accomplished we head back to the starting point where it is his turn now to play the seeker. The mall staff have a bemused look on their faces as for the next 20 minutes father and son duo are seen scampering around that floor hiding behind mannequins, a wall column and even an empty trial room!

This is how times have changed. When my son asks to play chess or a game of cricket with him it is on the mobile app. When we play hide and seek it is not in a playground or park but in a mall which we frequent more these days and spend time in.

But as a parent I have to make the most of the time I have with my child. If that means playing one of our favourite childhood games (I still remember hiding behind a thick shrub or in the garage of our old house many years ago) in a glitzy fashion mall then so be it.

For change is the only thing constant and judging by the pace of things the times are not just changing.

They have already changed.

Passion

The touch of the lover on your skin,
Sometimes like silk, sometimes satin!

As your eyes meet, there is an unspoken understanding,
A rare connection and you know it's not just a fling!

Just a glance, that sexy smile creates in you a havoc,
And the butterflies flutter in your stomach!

Words whispered wrapped in shyness, spoken softly yet they probe,
The same tongue which replied, now kisses your ear lobe!

As your lips lock, they unlock waves of emotion,
Hormones racing in your system like a tsunami in an ocean!

As your body is caressed by fingers that tease,
A symphony of love and lust created; and unfulfilled desires release!

The zeal, that unbridled thirst you have for anything which holds your attraction,
Ignited with just a spark; a flame if unattended it burns to its own destruction!


This is what is called Passion; Uff, the word itself resonates with action,
For the wise hath said, "God rests in reason but even HE moves in passion!

Passion Illustration by Divyasha Thakur. She is a student of Fashion Design and currently pursuing her studies from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. 

Divyasha has been an avid lover of art since her early days. It was only during the pandemic she discovered her passion for digital art. The medium and the creativity involved in it, helped soothe her frayed nerves during lockdown which had upended her life in umpteen ways.

You can visit her Instagram page @thakurdivyasha to follow some awesome work! 

Copyright © 2022 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

Jhumka Jhumur – Episode 5

Changing Times

Episode Background

Sometime in the early 20th Century (in all likelihood 1909) women got together for the first time to celebrate a Day specially dedicated to their causes. It was to highlight the various issues they were facing in society on different fronts – being denied a right to vote primary amongst them.

It may seem a bit surprising today, but until the early 1900’s women faced discrimination as they were barred from exercising their franchise on various matters as men chose to keep them out of the electoral process.

The universal suffrage movement started in New Zealand and gradually gained strength around the world culminating in women being granted this basic right in most of these countries.

March 8 every year became special and came to be recognized as International Women’s Day and now it has been over a century that on this date womanhood is celebrated with gusto and issues continue to be highlighted which affect their gender.

Closer home March 8 may be just like another day for the ordinary woman who continues to work hard all round the year to maintain a sense of semblance around the house for which she is mostly responsible.

In between, she has to take care of her family and fulfil many roles and multi-task. Sometimes this may be a struggle and sometimes fun, but the bottom line is she has to manage day to day situations, be caring and more importantly keep going and not give up.

In this context, our new episode with protagonist Jhumka Jhumur comes today talking about changing values in changing times. Some of us may find some customs outdated, yet they remain entrenched in our daily lives.

Read on to find out what mother-son duo have in store for us this time!

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The End

Dear Reader,

What do you think should be Jhumka's answer to her son? How should she handle the query?

Do share your thoughts and look forward as always to hearing from you 😊

This episode comes to life through the Illustrations by Vartika Bhonsle. She is a student of Fashion Communication and a graduate from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. 

She loves illustrating people in their various moods and you can visit her Instagram page @yellowlittlelamp to follow some awesome art! 

Copyright © 2022 Wasim Jawaid

This work of fiction, written by Wasim Jawaid is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests, send an email to the author wasim.jawaid@gmail.com

Winter Bliss

It is in its dying moments now.  Some may say it is already dead. Yet it has lived and thrived for almost 3 months this year which has been its usual, normal life span.

This season however has been uneven. Sometimes it’s been severely cold with temperatures dropping to 10 degrees in Bhubaneswar (that was the 3rd lowest in the city in past 10 years) and sometimes ebbing away, giving the impression it was fading but only to return stronger after a couple of days.

This was partly due to rains which lashed parts of Odisha in all 3 months i.e. from Dec-Feb. Each time it became overcast the temperatures rose, only to plummet once again as the clouds rained and dissipated away.

Perhaps these unseasonal showers are just a reflection of the changing weather patterns we we keep hearing about these days, but have not yet fathomed its severity on our lives.

For the moment however, I am not thinking about global warming. Rather I am ensconced snugly in the safer confines of my home and enjoying the last few moments of a season which like its antithesis Summer evokes diverse reactions.

Some people love the cold comforts which winter brings with itself. The mild sun, a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea are some of these luxuries.

For me personally winter has always evoked mixed feelings. I love to hate it as essentially I am a summer person who enjoys the sun and the power it exudes over all of us. Winter and the cold make me uncomfortable.

For example, I like sitting and reading in the evenings in my balcony for long periods. But while the clock shows only 5.30 pm the sunlight is gone and it’s already time to head back inside my room.

That is not too comforting as I like to soak in the sights and sounds of the busy road in front of our house while I am engrossed in leafing through the pages of my current favourite book.

The winter dusk comes in quickly and somehow there is a dark and depressing feeling around it.

Yet winter is powerful. It tames the sun and makes it go soft. Its rays become as mellow and feeble like my grandma’s temper. Even as I walk in it for half an hour during my morning exercise it barely feels on my skin. A similar morning walk in summer would cause ample discomfort!

Winter comes with its own peculiarities like each season does, and there are certain scenes which are so reminiscent of it.

For example, the security guard of the Bank ATM  in our adjoining building standing in the morning sun and reading the daily newspaper; a couple of stray dogs lying near his feet and sun bathing. People in the evenings huddling together on the roadside around a makeshift bonfire and spreading out their hands intermittently to feel its heat and get some comfort.

It is the season when people clamour to become tourists and pile onto the next available transport to go to a place they have been wanting to visit all year. Not only people, even millions of birds take their annual flight out of frigid zones to land in more salubrious climes of the region primarily among them being the Chilka Lake.

Even our long stored away woollens, forgotten in dark cupboards get an opportunity to come out and see the world during this season. They may have become loose or tight depending on how the owner has gone about their food habits in the rest of the year but they have a role to fulfil – keep him/her warm and away from the chill.

However the maximum glory of winter can be seen around us in nature. Flowers bloom in abundance and bring us unlimited joys with their bright colours and multiple hues.

Dew drops caress the leaves overnight and the morning mist slowly lifts its veil over all things, both mundane and beautiful.

Now as the season is ending I can see further evidence of the changing moods – in the leaves of trees around me. As a cool winter breeze picks up and rustles the branches of the trees, dry withered leaves by the dozens drift to the ground like discarded robes and the trees will very soon get a new soft cover.

A local Indian almond/badam tree (Terminalia catappa) next to my house had almost red coloured leaves throughout winter. Now, gradually green leaflets sprout from amongst the reds as the older ones undergo shedding. And not a single leaf changes colour without the silent knowledge of the whole tree.

Soon, they will decay and become one with the soil; essentially gong back to where they came from.

The Old..

The New..

This is so much akin to life itself – the old making way for the young, the withered ones being replaced with the tender. For the basic principle must be adhered to – that Life has to go on.

Even if that means changing seasons and its myriad moods from one to another.

If Winter would say, "Spring is in my heart, who would believe Winter?"

-Khalil Gibran