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

Blessing – Episode 2

It is 7 am on a Monday morning. The December mist slowly rises and moves like a cloud from the forest floor as the early morning sunlight hits the ground.

The sun rays slant in through the forest…through those tall dark trees which form a leafy canopy overhead. The golden beams of light filter through the gaps and form patterns and angles on the forest floor.

The red dirt road bends around the brown and green of the trees before disappearing from our line of sight. In fact, we notice how the road for long stretches is damp even though there has been no rain. It is only after driving a little while we realise the path is still wet due to the winter dew and the Sun is simply unable to reach the ground due to the dense forests.

There is an unique stillness and peace about the entire scene. I stand mesmerised by the sight, for there is something about visiting a jungle in the early morning hours. If you keep silent you can hear the birds chirping all around you. Some are hopping on the road feeding on an odd insect or fruit, some are darting from one tree to another and yet few others are simply sitting on a branch above and soaking in the morning comforts like me, on the ground below.

For the record I am inside Simlipal Forest Reserve with friends and we have come on a 2 day trip to Odisha’s biggest Tiger Sanctuary.

We continue moving in our car as slowly and silently as possible negotiating carefully the rocks jutting on the road, so that they cause minimal damage to the vehicle and its tyres.

Suddenly we reach a turn in the path where a small jungle stream gurgles its way across and falls in a miniature waterfall on other side of the road. Ferns are growing in abundance around it as well as below it, giving the spot a nice tropical feel.

We cannot help but stop and capture a picture of this place. The winter cold outside touches our skin making us hug our jackets closer around us. A cool breeze has picked up and blows gently across the tree tops rustling the leaves up from their slumber.

We pose on the road for a click and the smile comes straight from our hearts.

There is no one else around. We are far away from the usual din of our city life. The traffic, the chaos and the pressure to adhere to various deadlines in our daily lives- be it at home or at the work place seem distant. In fact there is no mobile coverage once you enter the gates of the Tiger Reserve so we are in a sense truly cut off from the outside world.

I immediately think that how at this very hour people from across the various strata of society would be attending to morning chores and planning for a busy day ahead. Household tasks, commute to office and what to cook and eat would be on top of their minds.

While here I was in the middle of a vast expanse of a jungle standing amidst Nature and feeling contented and blissful. The only agenda was to enjoy it and sight as many animals/ birds as possible in our morning drive. What a pleasurable task!

As if on cue soon enough we spot a herd of deer grazing leisurely on the green undergrowth on our far right. On hearing us, they pause in their breakfast and give us a look. They are not alarmed; just cautious. Our camera shutter sets off in a series of clicks making rapid, buzzing noises as it tries to capture as many moods of our jungle friends as possible.

Still further ahead there is a rare sight. On a large sun drenched boulder are a group of jungle fowls basking in the morning light. They are 4 of them led by a solitary rooster who looks glorious in its bright plumage. They make a dash for the woods on hearing us; but not before the light reflects the shimmering blue, black and green colours in the rooster’s tail.

We continue to enjoy the beauty of the wild for some more distance before ending the journey with a breakfast under the shade of a large tree which befittingly is a Sal as that is the predominant species in Simlipal.

I find there is an innate pleasure to be derived from Nature and its various forms. They soothe the soul. The jungle stream flowing across the silent woods; the moss laden rocks witness to passing time; the trees ageing in grace and getting richer in their worth with each passing year; even the giant Barhepani waterfalls (the 2nd highest in India) cascading down in a rush; -all of them add to the basket of happiness which we seek amidst nature.

While returning home I marvelled at the varied pace of lives in the city and outside it. The image of 2 villagers sitting peacefully on a wooden plank at 11 in the morning and having fermented rice beer with chicken (wrapped in Sal leaves) and cooked over a charcoal fire came to mind.

I think sometimes we ourselves choose to make our lives busy and hectic. I feel guilty when I am doing nothing and whiling away time. There is an inner need to always feel busy and look busy. In this rush, time is moving so fast that timelines and the years are getting blurred. Morning comes with all its demands on the work front and by the time we take a pause the day is almost done.

And another 24 hours has gone from our lives, never to come back again.

Maybe it is a good idea just to take a break sometimes and simply stop to savour the various blessings which life has to offer. For that, one must not necessarily travel; the bliss could be around us. We need to be only aware/ mindful of it.

As I park my car and enter the house I cannot help but notice the red dust which covers the vehicle on all its sides. It is the same dust which comes from a land where time seems to come to a stop; yet the clock is ticking away silently.

Pictures courtesy Sovan Das.

Jhumka Jhumur -Episode 4

‘Stuck’ Market

Episode Background

A few years ago the number of women investors in the stock markets was minuscule. However the Covid pandemic has brought in a major change in this segment.

With job losses, salary cuts of self/ spouse, dropping FD rates and with time on hand, many women across India (and the world) started tracking stock markets and investing in them especially since most global stock indices have done phenomenally well in the past 18 months.

Today almost 20% of the investors in India are women. More number of them are opening trading accounts as rapid digitalisation of the entire process has simplified investing and helped fuel this trend.

Homemakers who have lagged behind are also now joining the bandwagon of traders/ investors as awareness increases.

One of them is of course the protagonist of our story Jhumka Jhumur. All her life she has believed only in Savings accounts and her primary investments have been Cash, Fixed Deposits and Gold.

However, few years ago Jhumur ventured into the world of Sensex and its myriad constituents. She played it safe and invested in what she considered ‘safe haven’ companies like ITC, Coal India, Maruti Suzuki, NTPC etc.

However such a strategy yielded totally unintended and hilarious consequences as we will find out from this episode!

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Dear Reader,

Have you had a similar experience like Jhumka Jhumur where-in you have invested in some stocks and they have more or less remained stagnant in the past few years despite a rally in the market?

For the uninitiated, the stock names mentioned in the Introduction above have not performed very well in the pandemic period and seem to have been stuck at their respective price levels.

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

This episode comes to life through the Illustrations by Vartika Bhonsle, with whom this is my 2nd episode of JJ. She is a student of Fashion Communication and a graduate from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. 

She loves illustrating people and cute puppies 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

Chapter 3 – Chiku gets some answers

“Hey Chiku, what’s up?” asked Ajay as Chiku alighted from his bicycle. Chiku badly wanted to reply “my curiosity” but he thought the better of it as he saw Ajay’s father standing at the till of his restaurant. He was attending to a customer. Ajay’s father could very well turn around and ask what Chiku was so curious about that he had cycled early in the morning to meet his son.

And Chiku certainly did not fancy that situation.

It was the weekend and at that breakfast hour there were many customers who had come over to savour the various delicacies served at the restaurant. In fact, he could see a customer enjoying a paper dosa which was as long as Chiku’s arm.

Chiku quickly parked his bicycle near the entrance and beckoned Ajay to come out.

Ajay was one of the Fantastic Four group of Chiku’s friends. The other 2 members of the group were Venky and Ricky. All 4 of them were not only in the same class but in the same section as well – VIII B, in a leading co-educational school of the city.

Ajay’s family originally belonged to Lucknow and his father ran a restaurant in the busy area of Sriya Talkies Lane in Bhubaneswar. It was named Ambar Restaurant. It was true to its name as they had a menu as widespread as the sky, serving a wide variety of dishes with a multi cuisine flavour.

Ajay’s father was a culinary expert himself and had served as a chef in one of the leading hotel chains in the country before the entrepreneur bug bit him. He resigned from his job and set up a restaurant in Bhubaneswar as not only he liked the place and its people, but also Odisha was the home State of his wife.

On weekends sometimes, Ajay would take a break from his studies and come over to the restaurant to help his father out.

“Hey Ajay, need to talk something private to you.”

“Sure dost. Ask straight away.”

Chiku then proceeded to tell his friend the events of the morning without going too much into the specifics. All he said was that he had seen a random dream that had aroused his senses in a never-before manner.

Ajay smiled and explained to him that it was called ejaculation and proceeded to tell him in detail what that meant. At the end of it, Chiku was a bit relieved to understand it was a normal function in boys hitting adolescence and henceforth if he wanted, he could himself initiate an erection and then ejaculate – an act called masturbation.

“You have done it?” asked a still hesitant Chiku.

“What?” countered his friend.

“Err…that act you said…with your own thing.”

“Yes, few times already” replied Ajay laughing.

That was a lot of information to process at once for Chiku. However, he had been right in his decision to meet his friend and seek some of the answers to the questions which had been troubling him since morning.

For you see though Ajay was never a school topper, yet he was worldly wise. Though only a few months elder to Chiku, he was more aware of the surroundings around him.  Ajay seemed to have answers ready for different situations. He had one elder sister who was also studying in the same school as them.

“It is awesome. You should try it too” suggested Ajay with a wink, obviously enjoying the unbridled curiosity of his friend.

“I am not too sure if I am going to try it anytime soon!” replied a blushing Chiku. In his mind he was still trying to fathom this new development in his life.

“Anyways friend welcome to the growing up boys club!” Ajay concluded by saying and giving a friendly punch to Chiku’s round puffed-up cheeks.

“Ajay!” bellowed his father’s voice at that instant from within the restaurant. “Come and calculate this customer’s bill and collect the cash.” That was a signal for their brief yet enlightening meeting to end and for Chiku to leave.

“Chiku…just wait a moment,” said Ajay as he rushed inside to attend to the customer.

Chiku noticed after the customer had paid the bill, Ajay quickly scribbled something on its reverse side and came and handed it over to him.

“Look it up in the dictionary.”

Intrigued Chiku opened it to read the paper. In it was written only a single word and of course it was something he had never heard of before.

A Blessing

It has been raining continuously in Bhubaneswar since Friday night (3rd Dec, 2021).

The Met Department says a deep depression has formed over the East coast and Cyclone Jawad is on its way! It is the 5th storm to hit our country on this side this year and there is a joke going around in social media that perhaps the Bay of Bengal has entered into its longest depression ever and needs some professional counselling asap:)

However today morning (Monday, 6th Dec) dawned with no rain but still an overcast sky. The rains had dropped the mercury to below 20 degrees and a damp, dark winter is unusual at this time of the year in Odisha. It made me feel lazy and lethargic and it being the weekend did not help things further, as all I wanted to do was snuggle in the blanket and stay put.

So, just as I was getting used to the idea of spending one more day indoors with my jacket on to keep away the cold, suddenly the sun peeked out from behind the slate gray clouds like a child from behind a curtain surveying the scene in front of him.

Soon, not only it was peeking out but it stepped out in full glory and it seemed to have banished the rain clouds to the far corners of the sky.

Though I had enjoyed the rains which had its own cold charm, the warm Sun with its gold rays infused in me a sudden dose of energy and I quickly decided to take my morning walk on our terrace.

So I was back in my usual area for morning exercises after the rain induced gap, and I was almost sprinting from one end to the other eager to soak in the warmth as much as possible.

Sometimes I run in and bowl like a fast bowler to an imaginary batsman with an imaginary ball in my hand. I did that too a couple of times today and got really pumped up!

In fact such was my enthusiasm that I removed my t-shirt and let the sun hit my body for a few minutes. Lol! 😃

I was glad I did that because by the time I stepped back into my room the sun was gone. Again the overcast sky was back, like a screen being pulled across in a theatre once the show is over.

Anyways the point of writing this article was to express my gratitude to the little blessings in life which cheer us up. As Mr. Ruskin Bond says, that happiness is fleeting and when it settles on your hand like an elusive butterfly you must enjoy its stay as much as possible.

It is hence a blessing to be born and enjoy these moments which life gifts us. Soak in the moments which make it so enriching and worthwhile.

Cyclone Jawad (pronounced as ‘Jowad’) means generous and merciful. It is an Arabic name and it has been given by Saudi Arabia.

True to its name it spared Odisha and did not make a landfall (Puri was the designated spot.)

That prevented loss of lives and damage and we in the Eastern coast breathed a sigh of relief!

Chapter 2 – Chiku has a dream

Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Circa 1989

He was dreaming. Like most dreams it seemed to be random. He was standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing his teeth. Suddenly the bathroom door flung open and as if by magic one of the models from the Tree Top advertisement appeared alongside him.

Tree Top was a fruit drink brand manufactured by one of the leading consumer companies worldwide and it had been launched in India recently. Their advertisement had started appearing on Doordarshan a few weeks ago and somehow one of the models in it had caught Chiku’s attention.

She would probably be only a year or two older than him and he found her to be extremely pretty. He especially loved her sweet smile. The more he got to watch the ad the more he became her fan. Though she appeared only for a few seconds in the ad, it was enough to give a lot of happiness to Chiku!

Now as she stood next to him and lifted her hand to brush her teeth, he noticed what she was wearing. It was a baby pink night suit and comprised of a top and a pair of pyjamas. It seemed to be made of satin as the fabric appeared smooth and shining and rustled softly against her skin.  Her hands moved in a brisk to and fro motion and she seemed oblivious to his presence.

However, this time it was not her face and smile which drew Chiku’s attention, but it was a gap in her partially unbuttoned shirt which did. Much to his surprise he could see that the top part of her breasts were visible, as they swelled and curved downwards. Her skin was dusky like the colour of honey in milk and the exposed side seemed to be a part of something more astonishingly beautiful.

Something unseen and unknown.

Chiku stood transfixed at this sight. His hand seemed to stretch out; eager to touch. How would they even feel?

Just at this moment, Chiku woke up with a start and his heart was hammering wildly. He realized it was just about breaking dawn. He had a stiff erection in his pyjamas as he got up and rushed into the bathroom. At that early hour the household was asleep. He sat in the Indian style toilet and that saw his erect penis was already oozing out a light coloured fluid.

It was something he had never seen before. It shocked and surprised him at the same instant. There was an odd sensation about the entire experience. He sat there for a few more moments, his mind in a whirlpool and finally washing his organ, he flushed away the sticky matter and got up.

He once again looked down to cross check the toilet to make sure no signs were present of his ‘deed’.

He went back to bed but sleep eluded him.

Aamir, his father had been transferred in his job from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar a few years ago and had been based in the city since. He and Ruksana had enrolled their only son in a leading school of the city. Chiku had almost completed a decade in the same school and loved it immensely. He was now studying in Grade VIII.

Off late, he had begun to become aware of his adolescent body and the hitherto unexplored areas of the changes that were occurring in him. He had come across a brief section in his Biology textbook which made a list of various systems which function in our bodies. One of them was the Reproductive System and its organs- both male & female- with a note that it would be taken up in detail only the following year.

That disappointed him. He would have liked to read those chapters this year itself and gained some idea of a topic that had piqued his interest.

He wanted to know more about what happened with him that morning and what he had seen – both in the toilet and in his dreams. But he was at a loss on how to find out the details. Asking his parents was out of question. He felt nervous around his father and too embarrassed in front of his mother.

He sat brooding and lost in thought. It had been a new feeling altogether. What was it about the girl that had aroused him in this manner?

Suddenly he realised with a smile where exactly he could go and get more information on the same.

Hello Dear Reader,

Welcome back to Chapter 2 of Chiku's adventures! The story jumps 13-14 years ahead in time; so Chiku is now a teenager.

As mentioned at end of previous chapter that this story will try to capture the essence of those teenage years when we all had some memorable experiences.

The illustration in this chapter by Kishor took some discussion and time. The idea was to capture the innocence of a teenage boy's dream when he becomes aware of a girl's body and tries to visualise it, but without being vulgar. 

Hope the effort shows in the result. Look forward as always to your thoughts and comments below!

Copyright © 2021 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

Chapter 1 – The Arrival of Chiku

Cuttack, Odisha

September 1975

Aamir and his wife Ruksana sat munching popcorns in the dark auditorium of Grand Cinema in Cuttack.  It was one of the city’s earliest cinema halls, and the show was houseful.

Ruksana was in the final stages of her pregnancy and good news was expected any day soon.

Both were big movie buffs and Bollywood fans. The film they were currently watching was Sholay. It had released on Independence Day that year. After an initial lukewarm response, the movie had picked up, due to rave word-of-mouth reviews and it was now talk of the town.

Thus, going by the early feedback Aamir had decided to give it a miss. But when he saw the long queues in front of the box office, he decided they must watch it! After trying in vain a couple of times (including skipping office in the morning to stand in line), Aamir had finally managed to book 2 seats for the noon show.

All though he was not too keen on taking his wife along, (keeping in mind her health and especially since this was her first pregnancy), Ruksana had simply disagreed. She had pleaded and cajoled him to buy a ticket for her too, since she had loved the Amitabh Bachchan -Dharmendra camaraderie in the movie Chupke Chupke released just a few months earlier.

She loved the big screen with its larger-than-life magic which transported her to another world. In there she forgot her pregnancy blues and mundane household chores. Not to mention the small doses of mirth these movie outings provided sometimes.

One such incident she remembered in particular, was Aamir booking tickets for the movie Julie. He had heard the movie’s songs umpteen times on the Vinyl Record Player at home until they had grown on him so much that he kept humming them; especially when in the bathroom. So, when the movie hit the theatres in April that year, his exuberance took over and he also booked a ticket for his mother Saima.

Imagine his embarrassment when the movie with its bold theme made him squirm in discomfort in his seat. It reached a tipping point when the much-awaited Kishore Kumar song “Bhool Gaya Sab Kuch” came on screen. To the real-life couple’s horror, the reel life hero-heroine indulged in a passionate embrace and suggestive love making.

To make matters worse the song continued for a good 4 ½ minutes which seemed never ending to them. Ruksana, who was sitting next to Saima did not even dare steal a glance at her mother-in-law for fear of getting scolded in the theatre itself! To compound her situation the child in her womb seemed to be suddenly kicking around in joy as if enjoying her discomfort.

Now, back in the present moment as she watched Gabbar Singh, in a thirst for revenge mercilessly kill Thakur’s family she felt a sudden thirst herself – but for something to drink. “Aamir, you need to get me a cold drink quick. The baby is making me feel a bit uncomfortable.”

Aamir with his eyes still glued onto the screen fumbled and moved in the dark to the small shop just outside the door. When he returned to his seat with 2 colas in hand, he saw 2 things simultaneously which gave him a shock. Not only 5 members of Thakur’s family were lying dead on the screen covered in white, but also his wife was writhing in pain with the lady in the seat next to her, fanning Ruksana with her saree pallu.

“Aamir, quick take me to the hospital. I think the baby is coming!!”. People were already gathering around curious to know what was happening and Aamir with his heart pounding rushed in the darkness towards his wife.

The hall usherer with his torchlight on, scampered in too and he had already alerted the theatre manager. Soon enough the wailing sirens of the ambulance could be heard outside the gates of Grand Cinema.

As a visibly shaken Aamir was leaving the hall, he could not help but steal one last glance at the screen. “Yeh haath mujhe de de Thakur!” yelled a ferocious looking Gabbar as both his swords came down on Thakur in one swift flash of movement.

JD Nursing Home, Cuttack

“Yeh bacha humein de de upar wallah” murmured Saima nervously as her fingers were quickly moving over the rosary beads in her hand. She had severely admonished Aamir for taking out her daughter-in-law to the cinema towards the fag end of her pregnancy.

Her heart had skipped several beats when the family had heard about the mishap in the theatre. All that she wanted now was the safe delivery of her grandchild who would be her 7th and she considered that to be a lucky number. Moreover, Aamir one of her 5 children was her youngest son. Naturally she was inclined towards him and very fond of him.

All the family members had now assembled at Dr. Joshna Devi’s nursing home. It was a small but efficient set up housed in a 2-storey red brick building with white borders. Word of mouth had spread about the lady gynaecologist’s proficiency in handling even the most complex cases.

As a result, it was gaining popularity amongst families who did not mind shelling out additional money to receive superior service as compared to Government Hospitals. Moreover, the lady herself attended personally to each patient and her comforting touch had relaxed many an expectant nervous mother over the years.

Meanwhile Aamir was nervously pacing up and down the veranda. The nursing home was mostly silent, and it was only occasionally broken by the wailing sound of an infant in many of the rooms there.

Despite the turmoil in his mind, Aamir realised It was a pleasant autumn afternoon. He was now standing near the steps which led to a small garden in the clinic. He was a nature lover and found great solace when he was close to it – even if that meant a few shrubs and trees.

To his right was a large Sapodilla tree with a couple of chikoo fruits on its branches. He wondered if they were ripe enough to be plucked. They certainly looked so.

Just when that thought came to his mind, he immediately heard the cries of a newborn baby. His 1st child!

He rushed towards the O.T. room eager to catch a glimpse of the apple of his eyes.

What he saw amazed him. A tiny baby boy lay on the cot besides his wife who had an exhausted but beatific smile on her lips. The baby’s hair was abundant and shining black and his cheeks round and full. His skin was an earthy brown colour just like the Chikoo fruit he had seen moments earlier in the garden.

But what caught his attention were the size of his ears – they were big in proportion to his tiny face and gave him an odd endearing appearance.

The father’s joy was unbridled. Very nervously he picked up the baby and gingerly placed his hand under his neck and held him with fascination. “Such a sweet baby. Just like that chikoo fruit” he said.

That drew some smiles from the nurses and Dr. Jyotsna Devi herself, who had one more successful delivery to her name.

As was the practice in their religion, Saima quickly came close and whispered the azaan* in the baby’s ear.

*call of the muezzin for prayers in a mosque.

In those days, most households especially in the Eastern part of India had the practice of giving 2 names to a child – a pet name and a formal name. 

“Let’s call him Chiku. What do you say Ruksana?!” said a visibly excited Aamir.

His wife only smiled in affirmation.

It was the same year that PM Indira Gandhi had declared Emergency in the country and somewhere in the world David Beckham/Tiger Woods, and stars like Angelina Jolie / Kate Winslet had also been born.

So, it was in such an eventful backdrop that the protagonist of our story had arrived!

Dear Reader,

This story will be about the teenage years of Chiku involving his friends and cousins. It will try and capture those fun, roller coaster years of adolescence when not only the mind but the physical body too evolves and responds to the wonderful and myriad stimuli in life!

The story will be based in the 1990's. 

For all Illustrations in this work of fiction, I am collaborating with the ever talented and ever improving Kishor Mistry. Those who follow my work, know Kishor is a graduate from NIFT Bhubaneswar and you can follow his Instagram account kishormistry_ for some wonderful art!

Copyright © 2021 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

The Village Haat

The shopping bag that I am carrying is filled to its brim with vegetables. In fact a cauliflower is peeking out as there is not enough space for it within.

Yet I see lot more fresh fruits and vegetables that I am tempted to purchase but cannot, as I have no further means to carry any more of them.

For the record, I am in the Sunday Haat of Bamnipal village (which technically is in Keonjhar), but attracts lots of visitors from neighbouring Jajpur as well, as it straddles the border of both the districts of Odisha.

The bag in my hand is heavy to hold, yet I feel light headed with joy as the experience of shopping in a typical village haat has given me an unique perspective of life in rural India.

The sellers are all spread out in an open space with a large banyan tree in the middle providing ample shade. A small stream runs behind at the eastern end of the field. Small hills which are part of the Chota Nagpur terrain can be seen in the distance. They look green and verdant after the recent monsoon season.

The haat is alive and there is a buzz around the place right from the time it starts at about 10 am. I am amongst the first ones to arrive there. There is noise, there is cacophony but they are pleasing to the ear. Buyers and sellers are haggling over the prices, domesticated animals on sale, pitch in their own chatter and people catching up with their friends and relatives – all add up to the festival like atmosphere.

I am wonderstruck at the diverse assortment of wares on display. From guavas and papayas, to wicker baskets and earthen pots, from toothbrushes made from Sal tree to sweetmeat made from jaggery – everything and more is being sold.

A trader sits in a corner and is willing to take back old and soiled notes. He will get them exchanged for you at the local post office and keep 40% of the currency value. I am surprised to see the number of torn and damaged Rs. 10 notes he already has in his kitty. So if you have given him one, you can come back the following Sunday and collect Rs. 6!

At the entrance there is a tribal youth selling an exotic delicacy – red ants with their eggs! Yes you read that right. He displays them on Sal leaves and each leaf costs you Rs. 10. (By the way most food items are priced at Rs.10/-. This figure psychologically could be easy / convenient to transact, I guess).

Once each leaf with the ants is sold, he inserts his hands into an earthen pot kept nearby and scoops out more of them! And his hands are totally bare when he does this ‘transfer’.

After being amazed at this sight I move a little further ahead towards the livestock section. Goats, ducks and chicken make up this section lively and interesting to watch. They are not sold by kilos as in our cities nor are they butchered. The price is pre-determined by the owner and after the bargaining is complete the villager takes the live animal home.

I notice how healthy and handsome the country chickens are! They stand tall and are rust coloured. This is in sharp contrast to the drooping and sick looking broiler chicken we consume in towns/cities.

The other thing which comes to attention are the number of women traders on view. They are selling multiple produce from their kitchen gardens and seem to be at ease doing commerce alongside the men. Their sarees with bright prints add a dash of colour to the atmosphere!

In fact, the local handia market (a beer made from fermented rice) is completely dominated by women. They sit at various points in the haat with aluminium pitchers containing the highly sought after drink. One can have a glass (yes you guessed it) for Rs. 10 and in the afternoon heat of the market it cools down the person consuming it and needless to add also makes him/her feel giddy headed and intoxicated 🙂

In case a shopper feels tired after jaunting around the market place then a single makeshift dhaba* (restaurant) serves hot steamed rice, dalma and tomato khatta on banana leaves and one can sit under the shade to relish it.

Just as I thought I had seen everything, I run into an old man sitting on the side of a mud path with charcoal burnt Sal leaf packets in front of him. This sight piques my curiosity and I stop to ask him what he is selling. Pat comes the reply “Bhuna Kukuda” (roasted chicken). I am flabbergasted when he carefully opens the Sal leaf and neatly lays down the contents for me to see – 4 very small pieces of chicken marinated with turmeric, chilli powder and spices, wrapped in the leaf and thrust into the fire.

The chicken looks mouth watering and without further encouragement I buy it and soon I am licking my fingers at its simple yet amazing taste. No oil, no other ingredients – just some rock salt to go with it. It is yum!

It is now time for me to leave the place. Before walking towards the exit I cast one more glance and realise the Haat is not just a market place for the villagers. It is a weekly meeting point of friends, relatives and even for the traders amongst themselves.

So in essence, a trip to the Haat is not just to procure goods for the kitchen. It also serves a social hangout too. For the rural folks this is their Phoenix Mall, their Lulu or Esplanade.

I cross the Banyan tree again and I cannot help but stop and request the vegetable vendor sitting under it for a photograph. With a quizzical expression he looks at my camera and is wondering why I would need to click him. Before I can explain, a fellow vendor sitting behind me comes to my help and cries out, ” for Facebook!”

Our man immediately smiled and waved at the camera!

A sincere thanks to Mr. Abdul Hakim in whose company I could savour this unique experience. He is involved in community development work since many years and he is Jajpur based. Travelling with him, through some of the tribal hamlets and interacting with the people was a learning in itself. 

I look forward to more such visits!     

The Battle

The devil in my mind gives a hiss,
It says just give this battle a miss.

I turn to God and ask, "why choose me?"
HE replies, "The strongest warrior fights, hence I chose thee!"

For each time there are 2 battles which we fight;
One in our minds, and the other which tests our might.

So, yes it is these battles which helps one grow,
They teach us how to handle whatever life will throw!

So instead of questioning, let's accept them with grace,
Look within yourself - you have the strength to conquer and find solace.

Whenever we are faced with a difficult situation in life, we have to wrap our heads around its degree of severity first. And then our physical self gets into action. In essence it is a battle within a battle. 

This is a dedication to my sister Hena who valiantly fought her battles and exited gracefully. You will always be missed 😦

Illustration by Kishor Mistry. Thank you

Jhumka Jhumur -Episode 3

Episode Background

Hello Everyone!

Jhumka Jhumur is back in Episode 3 in a new avatar. It is titled ‘Time Travel’.

Have we not sometimes wondered that maybe we could go back in time? To our childhood, to our youth and maybe do something different!

What if we get an opportunity to do so but just to give advice (borne out of our experiences) to our own younger self? If yes then what would that be…

That is the topic for this episode. Along with her son Ishaan, Jhumka has undergone a make over giving them both a more fluid, contemporary look.

Hope you all like it!

So, read on to find out what light-hearted fun banter takes place between the lovable mother-son duo this time 🙂

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Come on everyone, do share your thoughts! Taking the cue from Ishaan what would your 3 words be?

Look forward as always to hearing from you 😊

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

She loves illustrating people and cute puppies and you can visit her Instagram page @yellowlittlelamp to follow some awesome art! 

Copyright © 2021 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