Sunday, 12 April 2015

Beauty And The Beast

March saw me plucking little flower bunches off of the grapefruit tree in my neighbor's yard and putting it in a jar filled with water in my kitchen. Such a beautiful and fragrant setting! Excited, I tried putting the jar in various possible places but could not decide where it looked most beautiful. The next morning as I walked in into the kitchen, it was so fragrant that I had to ask my husband if he had sprayed air freshener. But frankly, no room freshener can be so fresh and so beautifully fragrant like citrus flowers that have the perfect combination of freshness and limey fragrance.
I came across these lovely flowers during an evening walk. This time of the year is the best when one does enjoy a peaceful and long evening walk, especially people like me who find it extremely difficult to rise early in the morning and go for a walk. This season is the best because of the right temperature and humidity and presence of the right kind of flora and fauna. And a right combination of all these factors is very important to pull this lazy woman out of her reverie and set her on her feet to do the needful i.e. take a walk. But along with all this beauty, we have our share of beasts in the area too.

This is the road to my home. My house is so well hidden behind a row of bungalows and trees that people have difficulty finding my house. It has that haunted forest look about it that forbids faint  of heart from walking alone on this road at dusk. It is situated at an extreme end of this residential area, on the edge of a forest which is separated from our house by a deep gorge, and considering the presence of wild animals in this area, this little separating factor is a boon. 
I had once mentioned how a leopard was once spotted at the edge of my lawn (Read Here). Appearance of leopards and wild boars is not uncommon in this area and thus we always finish our walks before the fall of darkness. During these walks or while I am sitting in the lawn, I keep my eyes and ears open and stare at the side bushes as if something will jump out of it instantly. Falling leaves and small birds and squirrels make me jump, however I consider myself brave once I am inside my home. My maid finishes her work and leaves before dark and when my husband, who has set up a study room in the outhouse, goes there to study late at night, I always insist that he should carry at least a hockey stick, which he sometimes does, if only to keep me quiet.
Coco is not allowed to play alone outside, even during the day and presence of an adult is mandatory. These are a few rules that we try to follow in order to stay safe. Even after repeated requests, warnings and even threats, my husband does not always close the screen door behind him when he leaves while I am resting, and I grind my teeth when I see it wide open to the world. What if someday, the leopard invites itself to my kitchen for an afternoon snack, the main ingredient of the snack being me? After all, it regularly keeps appearing in backyards and side alleys and lawns. 

Then one day in mid-March, started the spell of terror with the above news from a neighboring colony, in which a leopard dragged a teenager to nearby fields when she went out of her house after dusk, and left her dying after local people rushed to the site. The girl died later, and her death triggered a little public upheaval to the forest authorities, who then roped in a team of hunters, and the leopard was killed a few days later. 
The incident left us all terrorized and shaken and so much more alert. Earlier we used to talk jokingly about the leopard, or gossiped about its appearance in thrilled voices. Now, when it seemed to cloud our lives with the threat of getting hurt or even dying, and we narrowly dodged the encounter with fear, the jokes and the thrill turned into contemplative questions of life and death. Biggest of them all is: who killed whom? Man or leopard? 

Sunday, 5 April 2015


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 53; the fifty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with ​Soulmates: Love without ownership by Vinit K Bansal. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton

Once upon a time there lived a chocolatier. Moulding chocolates was his passion more than profession. He used to make chocolates in all shapes and sizes. Once he moulded a batch of chocolate babies on order. When he packed his shop away for the night, he forgot one chocolate baby out on his counter. That night when the chocolate fairy visited his shop, she saw the little chocolate baby and spun her magic wand thrice and lo and behold! The baby came alive. The next morning when the chocolatier came to open his shop, he found a beautiful baby girl crying on his counter, in a pool of chocolate sauce. Her tears rolled down her cheeks and dried into chocolate chips. He named her Chocoderella and brought her home to his wife and two daughters. In the beginning everything was alright, but the chocolatier died after a few years and the wife started giving Chocoderella a step-motherly treatment, though she was a loving and caring mother to her own daughters. 

Chocoderella used to work hard all day long, wearing rags but would hardly get anything to eat. Her sisters dressed up in gorgeous dresses and ate gourmet food all day. As a result, they grew up into lumpy and lazy girls while Chocoderella was a lovely girl who smelled of hot chocolate.

Once, her sisters went to the royal ball, all decked up in jewels and pretty dresses, leaving Chocoderella home to keep their beds ready when they came back home from the ball, tired after all the dance and fun. Chocoderella sat down in a corner, crying tears of chocolate chips. As she kept crying, the floor got covered with chocolate chips and when there was no more room, the chocolate fairy appeared, and with a flick of her magic wand, turned all the chocolate into a grand coach, driven by six white horses and a uniformed coachman crisply holding a whip. She then turned Chocoderella’s rags into a beautiful gown, decorated with lace made of spun sugar and a necklace of candy gems adorned her neck. Lovely as she was, Chocoderella now looked like the goddess of temptation and desire with her golden tresses of molten caramel and her creamy skin reminding of milk chocolate that she was actually made of. 

The fairy smiled and said, ‘You are all set to go to the royal ball now, Chocoderella. But you should be back before midnight for that is when my spell ends. Your coach, horses and coachman will all become chocolate chips again and your clothes will turn to rags.’

‘All right,’ said Chocoderella happily.

Chocoderella had a gala time at the ball with the prince, and when she heard the first stroke of the midnight, she was shocked to find how quickly the hours had gone by! She was suddenly reminded of the bitter truth and reluctantly pulled herself away from the prince’s arms. As he saw her slipping away, the prince wanted to pull her back but all he could get hold of was the little finger of her right hand. In her hurry, Chocoderella pulled her hand hard and her chocolate finger snapped. Startled and shocked, she ran away. The prince stared at a vanishing Chocoderella, his jaw dropped, her little finger in his hand, smelling divine and looking tempting. In a trance like state, he took a bite of the finger. Never in his princely life had he ever had a chocolate so delicious. Without thinking, he hurriedly ate the whole finger and licked his palms crazily which had held Chocoderella and were now fragrant with her hot chocolate sweat. He had fallen madly in love with her.

When the king saw the prince’s condition, he announced on the spot, ‘Go and find the girl with caramel hair and milk chocolate face who smells like hot chocolate. The prince will get married to her.’

The king’s men now searched the whole kingdom for the chocolate girl with a missing little finger and finally reached Chocoderella’s home. Chocoderella’s sisters, in order to impress them, bathed in hot chocolate that morning. But when they came in front of king’s men, they were covered in blisters. As they were leaving, one of the men spotted Chocoderella standing in a corner, covering her right hand with a cloth.

When she saw the king’s men bringing forth Chocoderella for examination, her mother sniggered, ’Oh, but she is only a maid. She could not have gone to the royal ball.’ But it was too late. One of the men had removed the cloth from her hand and it was missing the little finger. Her hot chocolate fragrance confirmed further that she was indeed the chocolate girl that they had been looking for. At that moment, the chocolate fairy appeared and waved her magic wand. Chocoderella’s clothes changed into a royal gown, but surprisingly her hand remained unhealed.

As the sisters and the mother looked on wide-eyed, the fairy said, ‘The missing finger cannot grow again, but if you find it, I can attach it to your hand.’ As Chocoderella nodded, the fairy disappeared. The king’s men took Chocoderella to the palace where the prince was eagerly waiting for her.

One would think that Chocoderella married the prince and they lived happily ever after. But since this is a new age fairy tale, what happened next is written in golden caramel letters in the history of chocolates.

Chocoderella asked the prince about her little finger. The embarrassed prince admitted that he ate it in a crazy rush of greed and excitement, and now he wanted to marry her because he could not forget that divine taste and all he could think of was her hot chocolate fragrance. Chocoderella replied dryly to this proposition saying, ‘If you cannot resist eating a little chocolate finger, I am afraid you would eat me alive if you get the opportunity. You are not in love with me, but only lusting over chocolate. And no one can deny, chocolate can heal a broken heart, and it can almost replace love!’ Holding her head high, Chocoderella stomped out of the palace. She restarted her father’s closed chocolaterie and lived happily ever after. Only, every once in a while, Chocoderella cried for her missing little finger and there never was a dearth of chocolate chips in her chocolaterie.  

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