U for Uniform; a story on Unequal Pay #AtoZChallenge

Urvashi had been working hard for 6 years now and she had been left far behind than Aditya. But she was sure she deserved her success this time. As she opened the appraisal letter she was glad to see that her hard work was finally rewarded.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

It was Jan’ 2017. Urvashi went to the ladies’ room to check if her saree was still perfectly draped. She loved wearing sarees but wearing them for the whole day at office was tiresome. She had to wear the uniform as part of her job and she rotated between the options available; formal and Indian wear. She quickly retouched her lipstick. She collected the file from her table and left for the meeting. Aditya had not come in today as he was down with viral fever. Aditya was her senior in the same department. He was also her husband of 5 years.

Urvashi and Aditya had met when they were in college. They had fallen for each other almost instantly and as it turned out both were pretty serious about it. In the final semester, Aditya had got an offer in another city. Urvashi had got a campus placement here with this bank. Both of them were sad with the prospect of working in different cities. Aditya had then applied for a position in the same bank as hers. He had aced the interview too and got offered a higher position and a higher salary, on account of him having another offer in hand. They had started their careers in the same month and got married within the year. With the passage of years, Aditya had risen very fast and was now a senior in the same team as hers. Though as they were married, Urvashi was not a direct reportee of Aditya. Urvashi had herself proved to be a great employee too, but her growth had been much slower than Aditya’s, with a slower pace of increments each year. Then Urvashi had also taken a maternity break of 6 months when their son was born, she had been looked over for promotion or increment that year. 6 years later Aditya was already in a Mid Managerial role whereas Urvashi was still at Manager level.

But this year was different. This year Urvashi knew she will catch up with her lagging career. With little Darsh starting school, they had the home front arrangements running quite smoothly now. With a supportive husband like Aditya, Urvashi knew she could concentrate fully on her job now and earn her dues. She was giving in her best efforts and was determined to prove that she was a great resource for the organization. She had always been appreciated and applauded for her determination and hard work and now she was also taking up new challenges. She went ahead and started taking on more responsibilities, her proactive approach impressed her department head and she was being given more challenging roles and important clients now.

Her meeting today was with a prospective client, a big corporate account, Aditya and she had been working together on this one. But since he had been unwell since past couple of day, Urvashi was handling this alone. When Urvashi came back from the meeting, she was feeling on top of the world. She had bagged the account. Her Boss, Mr Anmol Khare, came and congratulated her personally. “Uravashi, this is superb, I am so proud of you. You are definitely ready for bigger challenges now. Keep up the good work.” Urvashi smiled happily, she was sure she will get a good result this year.

Urvashi, worked with full fervor through the last quarter. The client accounts she had brought in were doing very good business, her numbers were really promising. She took care of all her derivables. Urvashi was able to meet deadlines on time, with Aditya being able to care for Darsh alone, when needed; she was free to give time to meetings or timelines whenever they came up. She was waiting hopefully for the appraisals at the end of March.

 

By the end of the last quarter she was sure she was in line for a promotion. Aditya was very confident that she will succeed. He knew the kind of dedication she had. Her performance review with her boss went very well.

Finally the day came when the appraisal results came around, Urvashi was called by her boss. As she went in she was as composed and cool as possible, but her heart was beating very fast. What if she is disappointed again? “ Hi Urvashi, Please sit down. Thanks for coming in. Here I wanted to give you your appraisal letter. Congrats.”

Urvashi took the envelope from him, opened it slowly and took out the letter. It was folded into 3. She looked at the page, words popped out at her “pleased to inform you that effective April 1, 2017 you have been promoted…. pleased to offer 40 % raise on your current CTC… rating is execellent performance…CTC stands revised at…”

She was on top of the world. Urvashi hurriedly tried to read the whole letter.

“April 10, 2017

Aditya Sharma”

She stared at the letter, it took her some time to understand. “ Sir, you have given me Aditya’s appraisal letter. This is not mine!” Anmol faltered for a moment, “Oh, Ok, Let me see that. Oh no, I just read the surname and by mistake gave it to you. I am extremely sorry. These are confidential , Thank God, I gave that to you. This one is yours, I am sorry again Urvashi.” Urvashi had a sinking feeling inside already. She opened the letter. Her increment was 12%, no promotion. She thanked Anmol and was about to turn around and leave. “Sir, May I ask you why is my appraisal so bad? I thought my review went well and my performance was, I believe, above Par. What then is the reason for such bad rating?” Urvashi did not want to let it go without questioning this time. She had a right to know why she was being looked over every time.

“Urvashi, this is not at all a bad rating. You have done well and that is why you have received a good increment. Have patience, you need to build a lot more experience.” “Experience! But Sir, do you know that me & Aditya started working here at the same time. He is much senior to me today.!” Anmol smirked, “ Now don’t tell me you are jealous of your own husband Urvashi!” “Sir, I am not jealous of Aditya. I only want to know why am I not being considered for a promotion even when I have put in so much effort. Please tell me where did I lack?” “Urvashi, try to understand. I agree you are doing great, but these things take time. As I said, have patience, you have been given a good rating, if you continue like this, and you will have an even better chance next time.” Urvashi looked down. “Listen Urvashi, I am saying this on a personal note. I like you both a lot. Don’t be disheartened. This is a good rating. And you should be happy. Moreover, Aditya has got a good hike and bonus, after all the money is going to your home only. Why are you so disappointed then?” Urvashi did not discuss it any further.

It was two months later, Urvashi, was getting ready in the morning. She chose a bright green and crimson saree to wear today. As she looked into the mirror, she was glad she did not have to wear her uniforms anymore, She was finally promoted. Promoted to being an entrepreneur, promoted to being her own boss. She had put down her papers finally and started her own consultancy firm, which she had been planning for long. When she had discussed this with Aditya, he had asked her to go ahead with it and decided to join her in her venture. He had left a month later and joined her. He reported to Urvashi, she was the boss now.

A short story by Smita Pal Sinha

I am participating in the #AtoZchallenge 2017 AtoZchallenge with Blogchatter wherein, I will be blogging on 26 topics from A to Z. My theme is short stories which revolve around social issues and the stories are weaved around a word which starts with the same alphabet. Here in the story above it is T for Tiara and a story about wanted Tall, Fair, Slim & Beautiful Girl

If you like this story please like, and leave your feedback and kindly share it on any social media of your choice 😊 and keep watching this space for my next stories.

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Review of Sipahh – Milk Flavouring Straws

Milkshake in a Straw – SipahhAs the name says, it truly is an Ahh! I just discovered the best and easiest way to make milkshakes and am going to share it with you.

Say hello to Sipahh! A unique milk flavoring straw from Australia, which has less than ½ tsp of sugar in each serving. All this time, I had been adding various milk flavoring powders to my milk to make it tasty and was consuming loads of sugar with it, now I can just use Sipahh instead. Amazing isn’t it?

Recently, I was sent this amazing box of milk flavoring straws in 5 different flavours and trust me I have been bowled over. It is tasty, healthy, with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, with less than ½ tsp of sugar in each serving and is a super fun way to make milk interesting. AND, my baby absolutely loved it. He has been asking for ‘Malk’ ever since he had these. 😊

What is it ? 

It is a straw filled with flavored beads. Each straw is filled with these colorful balls which imparts a unique flavor to your everyday milk and makes it tastier for your kids. As you sip, the pellets inside the straw dissolve and infuse a tasty flavor into your milk. Here are some of the things to note: 

. The straws are filled with flavored beads


. These can be used with reduced fat dairy milk, soy milk or any other milk alternative

. These can be used with both room temperature and cold milk

. 250 ml serving of milk with this straw has less than ½ tsp of sugar

. It comes in various flavors; thus there is a whole variety of tastes to choose from, my personal favorite being Lamington Dreams


. All these flavors have a very subtle taste. They enhance and don’t overpower the taste of milk.

. Each straw is made of stiff plastic, with a mesh on both sides through which the milk passes.

. Each straw can be used one time only

.These are gluten-free

. Excellent for kids who may be fussy about drinking milk normally

. Adult supervision is recommended



What I liked best ? 

Apart from the fact that it makes the milk tasty and flavorsome without having to add the sugar loaded flavoring agents, there are a couple more things I liked.

  • It is so much easier and mess-free. No adding, swirling, or shaking it up in a blender. You can just plop the straw into the glass of milk for your child and sit back while they slurp up the milky goodness. Lazy Mom Win 😆
  • It is lower in sugar than the other widely available ready-to-drink flavored milks and flavored syrups.
  • It is as flavorsome for an adult as for a kid, so yeah, even you can enjoy your glass of milk with some flavor without worrying about extra sugar.
  • Lastly, it is a milkshake in a straw, what more can I say? 😊


My baby liked it so much that he did a little dance upon drinking it, and kept coming back for more. He kept saying ‘Nam Nam’, which means ‘super tasty’ in baby language.😄

Here’s a link to the video I made of him drinking it :

So let your kids enjoy the Sipahh flavoured milk and let the goodness of milk fulfill their nutritional needs too.

T for Tiara; a story of (wanted) a Tall, Fair, Slim & Beautiful Girl #AtoZchallenge

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Tanya turned her alarm off and shook Khushi. “Khushi, wake up, you will be late for your exams.” Khushi grunted in her sleep and pulled the cover up to her head. Tanya got up and went into the kitchen. Her parents were still asleep. She put the tea on and went to get the milk packet and newspaper. After bringing the tea to her mom and dad, she took a cup of tea to Khushi. “Khushi, wake up now.” She kicked her younger sister. Khushi sat up on the bed looking like a dazed ghost. Mornings were not her forte. Tanya remembered she still had the tiara in her purse, she took it out and kept it safely in the cupboard locker, it looked like it will be a long time before she would be able to use it. Khushi was younger to Tanya by 2 years and for the whole family, she was the apple of their eyes. Both the sisters were thick as thieves and more of friends than sisters. Although Tanya was not much older than Khushi, she loved her with the ferocity of a lioness loving her cubs. Both the sisters were poles apart yet similar in heart and mind. Tanya was calm, patient and gentle, a person of few words. Khushi was chirpy, impatient and talked nineteen to the dozen. Tanya loved cooking, Khushi liked eating. Tanya liked reading the book, Khushi liked watching the movie. Tanya like painting, Khushi like clicking selfies. Tanya was dark skinned, Khushi was as fair as butter milk.

When the girls were younger, upon meeting them for the first time, people would often ask their mother, who Tanya was, often mistaking her to be a relative. Her mother remembered twice she had been asked by her ‘friends’, if Tanya was adopted, she didn’t remain friends with them. She was advised by almost everyone she met to use ‘Ubtan’ for her elder daughter. Tanya had taken her father’s genes, she had clear features a very sharp nose, thick beautiful hair and dark healthy skin. She was also like him in her demeanor; cool, composed and gentle. Both girls were academically brilliant.

Tanya went into the living room. Her dad had the newspaper in his hand and was muttering, “Not a single ad even today. Each one mentions Fair & beautiful. At this rate, we will never be able to find a match for her.” He threw the paper on the sofa. Tanya’s parents had started the hunt for a groom for her since last year. Seeing their daughter well settled in her career, they now wished to see her settled happily in her personal life too. Since she was an educated, talented girl, working in a leading bank, they were sure they will find a suitable match for her very easily. Her parents were very proud of Tanya, and wanted to ensure that they find a boy who will respect and love her as much as they did.

When they asked Tanya if she had anyone in mind, she declined. Being so involved in her studies, her friends and her passion for designing, which was her hobby, Tanya had never had the time, inclination or the chance to fall in love. But she did want to get married someday, and an arranged marriage was perfectly acceptable to her. She did not find any thing wrong with this age old Indian tradition, where parents or elders decided your mate for you. Her parents had had an arranged marriage and there was not a more perfect couple than them anywhere. Khushi on the other hand was revolted by the idea of an arranged marriage; she thought it was absurd that two people could let others decide who they will spend their lives with. She was sure she will only marry for love, unfortunately she had also been unable to find her dream guy to fall in love with till now. All the boys she knew were either too silly or too creepy or too geeky and studious or not good looking enough. Her wait for Mr Right was going a bit longer by all accounts.

They started the usual way with setting up an account on a matrimonial site and looking for a match in the matrimonial ads. Tanya’s mother had been very excited as all mothers are, she had a Tiara, which was made of pure gold and encrusted with tiny rubies. It had been given to her by her grand mother. She cherished the piece. She wanted Tanya to have it, to wear it on her wedding day. Since the design was a bit old, mother and daughter decided that they will get it a bit refurbished, and add some elements so that it could match her other ornaments. These small wedding preparations were exciting for the whole family and gave them a lot of happiness, but what was not going as expected was the search for a match. It took them very little time to understand that in spite of Tanya’s credentials, her good family back ground and all her qualities, she did not quite fit the bill as a perfect bride due to her skin color. Rejections started coming in as soon as her father started looking for a match. Most of the people did not even reply to his correspondences. Tanya had used a good photograph of hers for her profile but did not Photoshop it or use any filters. She was who she was, but what was desired was “Tall, Fair & Beautiful”.

Twice, the talks had gone ahead a bit, and the groom’s family had even come down to their house to see the girl. Both times, after the meeting, they had politely declined to engage any further. The thing that irked Tanya most was the second guy was much darker than her, her parents had thus agreed to meet him thinking that they will not have any problem with Tanya’s colour. Turned out otherwise.  More than a year passed this way, Tanya was ok with the whole scene of things not moving forward, but she hated to see her parents so frustrated.

She went to get ready to leave for office. After the morning’s meetings, as she sat flipping through her phone, her watsapp notification pinged again. She clicked on the green icon; it was her college group, 418 messages, Woof. She aimlessly scrolled the texts, Shikha her college mate was getting married, it was all ‘congratulations’ and ‘how lucky’ messages. Shikha was fair, tall, slim and beautiful. Tanya felt unnecessarily annoyed today. She opened her matrimonial profile, ready to delete it. There was a message from a guy named Vikram.

Vikram was working with a private bank in the city. He loved watching cricket, listening to old Hindi songs, reading Nietzsche’s poems and eating Golgappas. They chatted a few times; Tanya decided she would first meet him alone. She was done with all the family meeting drama. Vikram agreed that it made sense.He was the only son of his parents and came from a very wealthy background. He was kind, sensible and had an innate sense of humour.

It was a month later that they decided that their families should meet. Vikram came with his parents to Tanya’s house. When they left after dinner, both Tanya and her parents were relieved, they had really liked Vikram’s family, specially his mom who was a very sweet lady. It was her who called an hour later to talk to Tanya’s mother. They wanted Khushi’s hand in marriage for Vikram.

If Tanya felt anything she refused to show it. Her father was furious. It was her mother who acquiesced later; the family was very good and could be a perfect match for Khushi. It took a lot of convincing on her part to make their father agree. Khushi was furious at the decision and threatened to run away from home. It was Tanya who calmed her sister and had her come around to agree.

They agreed upon a June wedding. Tanya’s mother was worried a lot about her and prayed to God for her daughter’s happiness. Tanya was not depressed. True, she had liked Vikram but it was not like she had fallen in love with him. She was used to be more careful with her emotions than that. It was Khushi who seemed most unhappy. She tried to cheer up her younger sister but Khushi harbored her sense of guilt too deep. Tanya tried in vain to convince her that she was not unhappy and definitely not angry at Khushi.

.Tanya asked her parents to stop the search for her, she wanted some time off from it, she did not want to get married anytime soon. She persuaded her mom to use the tiara for Khushi’s marriage. It was a family heirloom and should not go to waste. The preparations of marriage were on in full swing now.

Tanya found the letter on Khushi’s pillow when she woke up, it was addressed to her. “Didi, I am sorry for doing this. But this is not ‘Roja’. I am going to Mumbai to Rakhi’s place. I have received an offer for an internship there. Don’t worry, I will be back after the internship is over. I know Mom will be mad, so please do not let her call me till you can calm her down. Also, please don’t tell her right now that I have sold the tiara, I have deposited the money in your account minus 10k, which I needed for tickets and expenses. Didi, Please apply for that loan now which you have been thinking about for your boutique. You need to do this and I am going to be there to help you achieve this. You need to quit that job and give this a try. I am sorry again for all of this. And I am sorry that the colour of Vikram’s heart and all other people like him is so dark. And I am glad that you are not a single shade lighter. I will call you once I reach. Love, Khushi.”

Tanya folded the letter and got up. She looked at the mirror and smiled back the beautiful face smiling at her.

A short story by Smita Pal Sinha

I am participating in the #AtoZchallenge 2017 AtoZchallenge with Blogchatter wherein, I will be blogging on 26 topics from A to Z. My theme is short stories which revolve around social issues and the stories are weaved around a word which starts with the same alphabet. Here in the story above it is T for Tiara and a story about wanted Tall, Fair, Slim & Beautiful Girl

If you like this story please like, and leave your feedback and kindly share it on any social media of your choice 😊 and keep watching this space for my next stories.

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Mommy Unstyled 

Messy bun and yoga pants, that is my style statement nowadays. And guess what, I like it. There is a reason why ‘moms’ adopt this style, coz it is smart, and easy. So to the younger me who was like ” I am never going to be the messy bun and leggings mama” “Girl !!! Weren’t you stupid 😂” When you are a mom, you realize the beauty of this style. It lets you run around a toddler who is always high, without worrying about your dress getting creased, it lets you walk out and get groceries at a minute’s notice from the shop downstairs. It lets you run down to the park when the toddler has had his nap and needs his exercise. 

Of course, Elegant flowy gowns are a thing of beauty, but not so much when my toddly hangs on its neckline and pulls it till it gets stretched beyond recognition. 

Of course I like the satin night gowns with frills, but i cant be bothered to change in and out of it everytime I have to go pick up my kid, or drop him, or go get veggies for his soup and dinner. 

Of course, i love to style and braid my hair, but my toddly thinks that yanking the pins forcefully out of mommy’s hair is the greatest 🙈. 

Of course I love my beautiful tops and blouses, but the tshirt can withstand many washes which are required thanks to the innumerable stains of mysterious origins that pop up on it. And frankly, I never iron these, just take it out and put it on 

And well in this hot weather having my hair high up is the only way i can survive. So shorts and tees and yoga pants and buns and ponytails are my staple styles. Dressing up is great but frankly it happens less frequently now. 

I mean face it, leggings and messy bun are there for a reason and that is because moms know how to do it right. 😆. Yay ! rocking my average mommying in my yoga pants. Do you mommas love the messy bun too? 

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#babyboy #momlife #mumlife #motherhood #bloggers #parenting #ig_kids #igers #love #picoftheday #photooftheday #instadaily #instagood #cute #baby #candidchildhood #oureverydaymoments #amazing #babiesofinstagram #momswithcameras #mother #motherhoodthroughinstagram #mumsofinstagram #mom #momblogger #goodmorning #insta #perfect #messybun

R for Road; a story on Racial Discrimination #AtoZchallenge

Ramesh was a respectable member of his society. A locality which had been his home always. The Road which led to it, did the same road not lead away too?

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Mahatma Gandhi Road was where Ramesh had lived all his life. His grandfather had built the 2 storied house years ago, since then, the next 3 generations had been born and brought up in this calm, old world locality. Ramesh had spent his whole life here, got his son married, saw his grand son being born, all in this house, on this street. Everybody called him Ramesh Chacha here. He was one of the oldies there, people knew him, everyone respected him, they greeted him when they saw him walking down the road. This was his home, this was where he belonged, this road, this place was his own. He put the watering can down, opened the small side gate and stepped outside for his morning walk. It was his daily ritual; him and a couple of his neighbors would walk to the park nearby and spend the mornings there. Talking and sharing stories, sympathizing with each other’s various bodily pains over a cup of tea.

His friends were already in the park when he reached there. As Ramesh sat down on the green park bench, his old friend Vijay also came and sat by his side. “Good Morning Vijay Sir, how are you feeling today?” “Much better, my sugar level was normal today morning. How are things at your place? Rahul is having fun? Or does he find it very boring at Dadaji’s house?

Rahul was Ramesh’s 15 year old grand son, he had come for holidays while his school was off. His parents had stayed back in the US and sent Rahul there for 2 months.

“He is ok. Teenagers you know, he lives in his own world. All the time hooked on to the phone of his and a huge earphone on his head. That thing looks like a mini pumpkin. Mallika is very happy though, she is busy the whole day feeding him. By the way, have you seen the new people that have started living in that PG. They are from Africa, quite a few of them have taken rooms there it seems. I saw a bunch of them outside the coffee shop yesterday. What is this locality coming too nowadays, there used to be only respectable families living here? Now it is full of these small PGs and so many of those salons and coffee shops. It is not like it used to be anymore.”

“Yes that is true Ramesh, the side effects of development. The city is growing.”

“Development? Looks more like debauchment, if you ask me. All these PG and houses rented out to people from everywhere. Have you seen some of the clothes those girls who live in those PGs wear? And now this? We have African people in our midst. Do you know they do drugs and have no sense of morality? They will eat anything, no religion, no caste and the way they dress up, some of them look like they haven’t taken a bath in years. What is the city coming to, I don’t know, when respectable people have to live among all this.”

“Yes, you are absolutely Right, Ramesh.” Dr Naren was speaking now. “We should not have to tolerate this actually. This is our society. I say let us talk to the owner of that PG and tell him that he cannot do business like this. This is a respectable society; he should not rent out to people from everywhere. It was ok till some of them were being rented out to Indian students but now it is plain wrong. Who knows where these people have come from?”

“Yes, Yes,” Professor Shekhar chimed in, “They have these rave parties or something, only  drinking, dancing and drugs. They will soon be having those wild nights here too. It is just a matter of time.”

All of them soon reached the consensus that something needed to be done to stop this deterioration of their society. The resident’s association called for a meeting and all the owners of the paying guest lodgings were asked to attend it. A huge fight ensued, with the owners refusing to bow down to the demands that were made. Finally, after many deliberations some rules were laid down. The owners were asked to ensure that their tenants behaved as per the given guidelines.

After the meeting, few of the older shops on the street and the neighboring ones decided that they will not sell anything to the African students. The students were asked to go away when they went in to buy something. There numbers were more now, few more students had taken up residences there. Most of them studied in the neighbouring colleges.

Ramesh and his friends were not satisfied and decided to keep a constant watch on these students. They were always moving around in groups and frankly some of them looked quite scary. The elders were worried that they may harass the young girls of the colony. Who knows what all these people were capable of? And the truth was Ramesh did not like the way they looked. People in the colony started avoiding the students, which was fine by them as they generally kept to themselves and seldom ventured out of their houses or usual hangouts. The neighbourhood was very watchful of their comings and goings, specially since it was believed that they dealt in drugs too.

One day few of the students had a late night party in one of the PGs and their shenanigans got quite loud. Few of the men from the neighbouring houses went and gave them a talking to, they asked them to turn the music down and stop the party. A mini altercation broke out but some of the students kept their calm and the matter was cooled down; the party was stopped. Ramesh had not known when this was happening but was told about it later. Next day as the evening was coming to a close, he heard some commotion, some people were calling him from outside. Ramesh went out to see a bunch of his neighbours standing in front of his gate; apparently someone had thrown stones at one of the shops which had boycotted the African students and broken its display windows. They were all going to the hostel to get them to admit that it was them. How dare they try to harm one of the local people? Ramesh joined the group.

By the time, they all reached the hostel; there were quite a number of people there. They accused the students of breaking the windows, which they denied having done. A fight broke out soon enough and it turned violent in no time. The younger men entered the hostel and started beating up the students inside. Soon it was a riot inside. They broke all their furniture and things and started throwing it out on the road. Ramesh was also very excited by then and angry at these outsiders, he wanted to have them thrown out of this place, his home, his street. He stood outside with his friends and kept shouting. He was about to enter himself too and teach a lesson to few of them, when suddenly he saw Rahul stumble out. Rahul was bleeding, there was a cut on his forehead and his nose was bloodied. Ramesh ran towards his grandson and held him. Rahul was hurt badly; they rushed him to a nearby hospital. Ramesh was out of his wits. He kept pacing the hospital lobby as Rahul was getting stitches in the emergency ward. He had deep gashes on his forehead. What had Rahul been doing there?was he buying drugs from those Africans? Ramesh was scared as hell. Later, the doctor said they will keep Rahul for the night as he had lost some blood and had a fractured bone in his wrist. But he was fine. Ramesh and his wife went inside to see their grandson. Mallika, his wife had been crying the whole time.

“Rahul, how are you feeling now, beta? How did this happen? What were you doing in that hostel?” “Dadaji, I am glad you were there. I was so scared for a moment, I had gone there in the evening to meet my friend, he is teaching me how to play the guitar. He is so good at it. They have a band too. Suddenly these people came in shouting and started beating everyone up, they broke the lights too, it was so dark inside. Dadaji, for a moment I was so scared, it felt like I was back at home, like that night when I was with my friend at the mall. These American boys came at us with sticks and started beating us up and asking us to go back. They kept saying, “You all are poising our home, go back to where you have come from.”. I have had no friends since we moved to this white locality. Some students at school always pass racist comments at me and my friend. I hate it there. It was like that same night today.” Ramesh was shocked, he called his son, and came to know that their grand son had faced a hate crime incident there. Out of fear and also to help the boy recover they had decided to send him to India for some time. They had not told Ramesh and Mallika anything as they will get worried about their safety.

Ramesh was in shock as he drove back home. He entered his road, the road where he had lived for years, Police cars were around now. He got down his car and looked up at the street sign, which said Mahatma Gandhi Road, an epitome of non violence. But, names did not always mean something. And roads, did they not lead back to the same place that they lead away from.

A short story by Smita Pal Sinha

I am participating in the #AtoZchallenge 2017 AtoZchallenge with Blogchatter wherein, I will be blogging on 26 topics from A to Z. My theme is short stories which revolve around social issues and the stories are weaved around a word which starts with the same alphabet. Here in the story above it is R for Road a story about Racial Discrimination

If you like this story please like, and leave your feedback and kindly share it on any social media of your choice 😊 and keep watching this space for my next stories.

R

 

 

P for Purse; a story about Peer Pressure #atozchallenge

Priya had been saving up for a beautiful purse like the other girls had. It will make her as stylish as them and they would finally accept her as one of them.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

As Priya hurried towards the bus stand, her high heeled shoes bit her. She got inside the bus and stood by the door, holding on to her purse very tightly. When the conductor came, Priya handed him a 50 Rs note; it was all she had left in her purse. As she was taking the change back, a seat got empty, Priya hurried over and sat there. Thank God she had got a seat, else she would have had to stand for an hour in these killing heels. She cursed herself for having spent the 300 Rs, now she did not have enough to take an auto and had to take the bus instead. 

Anchal & Shikha had come to her in the afternoon, to ask if she wanted to join them for Pizza. “Hey, Priya, we all are ordering Pizza for lunch today, do you want to join us or are you still on your ‘diet’?” Both girls giggled meaningfully. Priya felt her cheeks turning red, “Ok” she said meekly. Half an hour later, the pizza was delivered and Anchal, Shikha, Rashi, Rahul & Vivek stood around Anchal’s workstation. Rahul called Priya to come join them. She stood there on one side as the pizza slices were passed around along with the diet cold drinks and deserts. It cost her 300 Rs for the 2 slices she had.

Priya was always in awe of Anchal, Shikha & Rashi, they all worked in the same department with Priya. The 3 girls were thick as thieves, they were like the power puff girls and being stylish divas was their super power. With their huge designer hand bags, perfectly manicured hands and beautifully set hair, they looked as if they had just walked out of a fashion magazine. Their dresses were always either from Zara, Mango, H&M or such. Though Priya was always neatly turned out in her locally shopped dresses, many of which were stitched by her neighborhood tailor, she always felt like a washed out potato beside them.  Her hair was tied up in a pony tail and not set like theirs, but she felt most conscious about her purse. Her simple, store bought, non branded purse, in which she carried her world, was the same, dull old thing everyday, whereas they had a new beautiful, designer hand bag every other day. Priya would hide her purse inside her drawer the first thing in the morning.

She got down from the bus and started walking. Her house was just beside the sector market. Priya stopped by her regular vegetable vendor and bought a few vegetables. She asked him to put the bill on credit for her. Plastic bag in hand, she went into another store and asked for the purse she had selected for herself. A beautiful Tote bag by Michael Kors, with the signature MK medallion. Priya ran her hands over the luxurious leather and the beautifully crafted straps. She sighed inwardly. The bag was priced at 15, 000 Rs, more than 1/4th of her salary. But she had managed to save the money finally. Saving a little bit from her regular expenditures every month she had finally collected 15000 Rs. She could spend it without feeling guilty now. Priya could not wait to buy the bag tomorrow. It will be so great to walk into the office with her beautiful bag in her hand. She won’t have to hide it in a drawer any more. She returned the purse and went home.

Priya lived with her mother and her younger brother Avinash. Her father had died when both the kids were in school. Their mother, a house wife, had got a job in his organization at a lower level. She would be retiring next year. Priya threw her bag on the bamboo sofa set and went into the kitchen. Her mother was standing over the burner, cooking, Priya went and hugged her from behind. “You are back, wait I will make tea for you.” She took her daughter’s pretty, heart shaped face into her hands. Priya had her father’s beautiful, wide eyes, framed with thick curly eyelashes. “You look like a raccoon, go wash your face. Why do you put on so much Kajal?” “Maa, I can’t help it, the low quality kajal that I have smudges so easily. I wish I could buy a branded eye liner and Kajal. They are perfect for the whole day wear.”. “OK I will buy you one next month.” Priya kissed her mother and went out from the kitchen.

She opened the small tin box inside her cupboard and counted the money, 18000 Rs., enough for her bag and a cricket set for Avinash which he had been eyeing since long. Priya was going to surprise him with it tomorrow. After all, she could not buy something for herself alone. She put the money safely in her purse.

Next morning, after finishing her report quickly, Priya took out her bag and went to the wash room. She went inside a cubicle and took out a sandwich from her bag. She was hungry as she had missed eating breakfast in the morning. It had become a habit with her to eat in the bathroom. The others were always ordering food and going out for lunches and Priya felt embarrassed to open her humble tiffin box in front of them. Once earlier Anchal had swooped in on her while she was eating, “Oh Priya, you eat such plain Roti sabji, good for you, eating so healthy. I wish I could also eat healthy, I am trying to loose one kg; though I eat so less but I am still so fat. Good for you though.” She then went down with Rashi to have Ice cream. That day Priya told her mom to give her only sandwiches, it was easy to wrap it and put it inside her bag. At office, she used to tell the others she was dieting.

During lunch time that day, Shikha came to her and told her they were going out to eat and asked her to join. Priya was hesitant, but she was hungry and she knew she had a little bit of extra money, so…why not. They went the popular eatery Chili’s. Sitting in one corner, Priya scanned the menu, she chose the half flat bread Margherita Pizza priced at Rs 200. The 3 girls ordered Salmon fillets and a starter each and the guys ordered burgers and Fajitas. All of them ordered drinks. After lunch Priya’s share of the bill came to Rs 1700; It had been divided equally.

On her way home, Priya stopped at the shop and got the purse out. “Mam, buy it now, you have been looking at it since 6 months now. Tell you what I will give 500 Rs off on this for you.” Priya looked at the purse one more time. She can buy Avinash’s cricket set next month, She will save up again and buy it for him surely. She paid for the purse.

Next morning she wore her favourite jeans with a white long sleeved, floral pattern casual shirt; it was a Friday. She placed her purse carefully near her workstation and from time to time would steal furtive glances at her pretty purse. Anchal came to ask about a report, “Hey new purse Priya. This is so beautiful. When did you buy this, I had been eyeing this MK design too. Very nice. You look so pretty today.” Priya smiled. “Hey listen, what are you doing after work today? Couple of us are going to a club, come with us.” “No Anchal, I don’t drink.” “So what, you can dance, right? Come on it will be fun. Let us show you how much fun Friday nights can be.Come with us.” Priya called her mother before leaving with them.

She was enjoying a lot at the club, though she ensured not to eat or drink anything. The girls knew a lot of people and all of them sat and chatted together while drinking. Priya danced a lot too, she had fun. She booked an Uber after calling her mother and started for home at 10:00 PM. Upon reaching home, she opened her purse to pay; she had chosen cash payment. She sat there in shock for a moment, this was not her purse. It was not lined on the inside with the MK logo lining, this was a fake. In confusion she had picked up a wrong purse. She called Anchal frantically. “Priya, I don’t know who may have taken your purse, there were so many people in there today. I don’t know how to help you. Did you have any documents inside with your name? May be the person will return it to you. Listen, I got to go now, I am sorry.” In her hurry she had not transferred the contents of her old bag to the new one, it only had her small money wallet and house keys; there were no identification papers inside.

Priya had her head buried into her pillow as she wept uncontrollably. Her mother was caressing her head gently, “Priya, it is ok. You know a swan does not need pearls to look beautiful. It is beautiful no matter what.”

A short story by Smita Pal Sinha

I am participating in the #AtoZchallenge 2017 AtoZchallenge with Blogchatter wherein, I will be blogging on 26 topics from A to Z. My theme is short stories which revolve around social issues and the stories are weaved around a word which starts with the same alphabet. Here in the story above it is P for Purse a story about Peer Pressure and the need for acceptance

If you like this story please like, and leave your feedback and kindly share it on any social media of your choice 😊 and keep watching this space for my next stories.

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L for Lamp; a story on Child Labour #AtoZChallenge

Lalit was intrigued and fascinated by Vinay’s lamp. The small boy, had no such light in his life. It was his friend Vinay who would dust away some dirt and with it a whole lot of darkness.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Lalit carefully placed the glass of warm milk by the lamp on Vinay’s study table and walked away quietly. Vinay was studying for his final exams. He was in class VI and was a very good student. Generally Lalit would sit in Vinay’s room and watch him study. Vinay used to share with him the interesting things that he read. It was Vinay who had explained to Lalit how the earth and the Sun and the Moon were part of a huge solar system and alos let him help make a model for his science fair. It was fascinating.

Lalit went into the kitchen and put the tea on. Aunty & Uncle will be home soon; Dadi jee came in and instructed him on which vegetables to cut and keep ready. Aunty made the dinner after she came back. She and Uncle went out in the morning to their respective offices. Vinay was their only son. The boys were almost the same age; Lalit was younger by 6 months. He liked living here. He had been afraid and had cried a lot when his parents had first decided to send him to work. They had got an offer for him from an agency. Lalit was so scared to leave his mother and his small siblings and go stay somewhere else. He would have to work there too. But the agency manager, who had got jobs for many people from their locality, told his parents that the work was very light and the family was very good too. His father had come along to drop him. Lalit liked this house. The work was not very hard either, he had to help with cleaning, dusting, laundry etc and assist Aunty around. They were very good to him too and treated him well. Lalit also liked watching TV, they had a big 40” television. He was allowed to watch TV with Vinay and also with Dadi when she watched her favorite serials. They had had a small TV at home but no cable connection. His parents hardly made enough money from farming to feed the 4 kids. Neither could they afford to send him to school. But what he liked most in the house was Vinay’s study lamp. How great it was to have a lamp solely for studying. The round yellow orb of light that fell on Vinay’s books made them look so enchanting. All he had at his home was a single bulb hanging from the ceiling.

He took a cup of tea to the living room, Dadi was sitting on the sofa watching a daily soap. Lalit put the cup on the table in front of her and sat on the floor by the sofa. He liked this serial; today the hero had been kidnapped and was locked by the goons in a cellar full of explosives. Lalit watched wide eyed.

Madhu had a major headache, Rajat had been so late and wasn’t even picking his phone. When he finally picked it up, he said he had been busy with a client call. Madhu wanted to reach home early as she had to help Vinay revise. Rajat did not care at all about these things. He was so irresponsible at times. Husband and wife did not talk much all the way home.

Lalit turned the burner off and went to clear the table. Madhu served him his dinner. Lalit was happy he worked at this house, Aunty always ensured that he got his meals on time. But he missed his mother’s cooked food. It was not at all as rich as what he ate here, but he still craved the plain food his mom made. He wished he could share his food with his siblings. He waited for the rice to cool down. It was different from what the family ate because he was not used to eating Basmati Rice after all. He liked the thick rice that was given to him though. After wating, he quickly washed his plate and put it in its designated place, separate from the other utensils. He went into Vinay’s room and sat in a corner.

“Vinay, you were unable to answer 5 of the questions. Did you not study at all?” Vinay looked down at his notebook quietly. “Vinay beta, I have told you so many times. It is so important to study. If you don’t get good grades then it will be a tough future. You know how hard I and daddy work so that we can provide for our family. But do you think we would have been able to earn money had we not studied? We studied so that we could get jobs and earn money. Studying is important beta. Here let’s revise this once again.” Lalit was listening to her carefully.

He went to the small servant room where he slept and took out Vinay’s old text books that Aunty had given him. He started practicing the alphabets Vinay had taught him. Madhu came in and sat beside him. “Lalit it is pretty late, why don’t you go to sleep now. It is good that you are studying. Tell you what, after Vinay’s exams get over, I will teach you how to read every weekend. Now go to sleep.” Lalit smiled up at her with gratitude. The boy was really very good. Madhu was glad, the last two maids they have had were a nightmare. One stole things and the other was always sleeping. With a job and so many members in the house, husband, son & inlaws, it was impossible for her to survive without a full time maid. She really liked Lalit; she will talk to Rajat, maybe they can enroll him in some nearby government school. He could go there for a few hours in the daytime, he did not have any work in the day anyway. She smiled. She was happy she had thought of this.

Vinay’s exams got over two days later. He had done pretty well as far as Madhu could understand. She was so relaxed. Finally they were going on a vacation. The trip was all set. She had even called Lalit’s dad the day before and paid him the boy’s salary and asked him to come pick him up on Saturday. He would bring Lalit back after 10 days, once they were back. Madhu really hoped that Lalit would come back and not go AWOL on her. She would hate to have to look for another servant as good and obedient as him. And she really did like the boy. “Rajat can we go out and have dinner tonight?” “Sure, where do you want to go? But, mom and dad won’t go with us, they never like to go out.” “Ya I know, we will get their dinners packed and something for Lalit too.”

“Ok, let’s go home and then we can go out. Vinay also deserves a treat he has been working so hard.”

Madhu opened the door and went inside. After keeping her bag on the table she went into the kitchen. Lalit was putting on tea. “Lalit no need to make dinner today. We are going out and will get dinner. You can go and watch TV with Mummyji.”

Madhu went looking for Vinay. She went into their bedroom and stood there surprised for a moment. “Vinay what are you doing? Why are you dusting with a cloth and cleaner in hand? These are not for playing.” “Maa, I am dusting not playing. You only said that it is important to earn money, right? Yesterday, I saw you paying Lalit’s dad for the work he is doing. So, I told him to teach me his work. He is also small like me Maa, if he can earn money doing this, then I can do it too. I can also earn money like him from a small age.” Madhu was speechless; she looked on as her son carefully dusted off the edges of the dresser.

Next day when Lalit’s dad came, Madhu went to see him off. Vinay was also standing there to say bye to his friend. “Madam I will bring Lalit back on 28th.” “No, Kishan Ji, please don’t. He is too small to work. I request you to not make him work at this age, I know it is hard, and I would like to help, if you allow us. If you promise to enroll him in a school, I will pay for his fees and also send him some extra money every month. Please let me help protect his childhood.”

After some convincing by Rajat and Madhu, Kishan Ji agreed, he was glad that someone was willing to look out for his son. It will be tough but if his son could get education, he was ready to face the trouble. When they were leaving, Madhu gave a box to Lalit. “Lalit, this box has a few books, notebooks, a bag and a Lamp for you. I hope this will help you do your studies. When I am back, I will get your admission done in a school near your house. Do come visit us whenever you can.”

As he sat in the auto, with his precious lamp in his hand, Lalit had no idea that this lamp would eventually light up what could have been a dark future.

A short story by Smita Pal Sinha

I am participating in the #AtoZchallenge 2017 AtoZchallenge with Blogchatter wherein, I will be blogging on 26 topics from A to Z. My theme is short stories which revolve around social issues and the stories are weaved around a word which starts with the same alphabet. Here in the story above it is L for Lamp and a story on Child Labour.

If you like this story please like, and leave your feedback and kindly share it on any social media of your choice 😊 and keep watching this space for my next stories.

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