“ Can you give me a house?” The boy asks standing close to the huge tree.

“ I have no house,” replies the tree. The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house.Then you will be happy.” The tree smiles.

The boy without any further thought, cuts off the tree branches to build his own house. It hurts the tree but she keeps quiet. She is just delighted to see the boy, her childhood friend.

“ Disgusting! So ungrateful! Selfish boy!” Hope uncrosses her legs, sits upright, legs drawn in and her eyebrow bends. She closes the book with a thump and hides it deep behind the other books in the walnut bookcase. As she turns around,she hears her mother’s voice from the kitchen.

“ Hope!It is almost time for school.”

Hope glances at the windsor cherry finish clock on the wall. It is almost 8.30 am. She marches through the narrow hallway to the dining room to grab her lunch box. Something fluttering out the  glass window caught her eyes. A bright cardinal sitting in the pine tree and staring directly at her. For a moment their eyes locked, and they look at one another their heads slightly tilted. “Welcome my new friend!” The cardinal chirps and then takes a flight, cheerfully. Hope’s gaze returns to the dining table.

“Did you memorize the timetable?” Her mother sips her tea, trying to look at her sideways with the cup at her lower lip.

“O, snap!” Hope nods her head in disbelief and tries to find out a reasoning.That is the main reason that she wakes up real early but she completely forgot! It must be the way she has arranged her books in the book shelve. Her study room has two doors. If you enter from the right side, then immediately you will notice the school books in the bottom shelve. But from the left side of the entrance your eyes directly fall  on the wonderful story books. Well,there is no other reasons to verify this event, so she must have the right conclusion. Now she realizes that instead of memorizing the time table, why she read a few pages of the book The Giving Tree.And she does not like the greedy, self-centered boy at all. “ Nope ! Nope! The friendship is such an amazing thing and the boy did not care to keep it! And on the other hand the tree is so affectionate, so kindhearted and so thoughtful! I am confident that my tree friends are wonderful like the tree in the book.

“Hope! Did you memorize or not? You need to focus more on your math.” her mother looks directly at her, one eyebrow arched.

Hope does not like to lie to her mother. There is something mysterious in mother’s eyes! They understand your inner feelings without any confession.She bends down to tie her shoes avoiding her mother’s eyes.” Don’t worry mom, it will be fine.I am getting late for school. Bye.” She leaves and her mother tilts her head back to sip the warm tea.


The bell rings for the first class.Hope sits with her two elbows on the small table, her hands clasped in front of her, her two fingers leaning against each other and against her thin pink lips.Hope tries her best to remember the time table before the class starts. She could remember up to the 7 but gets stuck in the eight table. The door opens and math teacher appears.He sits on his chair, takes the roll calls. He closes the book,pushes the chair to one side and abruptly stands up. He starts to ask question in a random order. Suddenly his eyes falls on Hope.

“ Hope! Please stand up. What is eight times eight?

Hope tries to count in her head. She stands straight. “ Sixty two.”

“It is hard to hear your voice. Come to the front of the class and speak clearly.”

Hope’s forehead and palms are warm and sweaty. As she tries to walk her way from her seat, her unstable nervous hand bumps into other notebooks and they fall in a pile. All the student’s curious eyes  are on her. She does not know where to look. “ Sorry! Pardon me!” She tries to  picks up the books from the floor.

She stands in the front. Her unstable nervous hands squeeze both sides of her maroon skirt.She closes her eyes for a second to do her prayer but suddenly she forgets the right one. Instead she begs the wonderful, kind tree of the story book. “Please help me.I will be your best friend forever and will not hurt you in any way.”

“ What is eight times eight?” A deep voice echoes.

A long breath.

Hope opens her eyes to answer. “ Sixty two.”

“What?” Now the voice is not only deeper but it sounds more angrier.

“Sorry, it is sixty four for sure.” Her voice is confident.

“ Excellent!Next week I will start the question with you so be prepared. You may go back to your seat.” The math teacher turns his attention to the class.

That evening after school, Hope opens the iron gate of her house and runs to the garden. She has to give this wonderful news first to all her friends in the vast garden.





It is a late afternoon, the day before Easter Sunday.

Anna sits in her study and makes Easter baskets to distribute to the children and parents at, ‘ The Door’, the domestic violence shelter.  Her excitement is sharp. She loves to bring smiles to the many children and adults during the Easter Celebration.Anna  hears the footsteps  but does not bother to lift her eyes to check. She is confident that her little girl is in the crib, taking a peaceful nap and may be enjoying a dream or two. She may be hearing things. After twenty minutes Anna hears the footsteps again. It is not heavy but very very soft. It comes from the hallway. Hmm, it is interesting. Her mind gets curious. As Anna walks through the narrow hall,out of the trail of her eyes,she finds  a few dark green leaves and a few flower petals of different colors on the pale white carpet. She walks faster  and follows the soft footsteps. Her nine months old daughter Daisy walks off with a empty flower basket. She can not walk fast or walk perfectly, so she tries her best to balance her foot on the carpet and to hold the basket tight on one hand.

“Daisy! Sweetie! What are you doing?”

Daisy hears her mother’s voice from behind and stops. She turns around. It is not a perfect turn, so she turns her face but falls on the thick carpet. Anna arches her eyebrows, the weather changes in her eyes.The Easter flower basket, the gift from one of her neighbour is now empty. Daisy lifts her simple face and immediately opens a big delicious smile like lightening. Her mischievious bright brown eyes dance to see her mom. She makes an effort to rise-she leans against the wall and stands. With a charming smile Daisy slowly lifts the basket toward Anna. “ Look mom, no more flower, look.” She says with an excitement in her voice.

Yes, now the new found joy has been shared between mother and daughter. Daisy’s small loving hands wrap tightly around Anna’s waist.

Daisy has eaten most of the flowers and one green stem peeks out of her small mouth. The other delicate petals of the yellow and red tulips who escape from Daisy’s mouth, lay lightly on the carpet. It surprises to see that her body does not react at all. Both the worry and the amusement wraps Anna’s mind to see her daughter’s strange interest in eating the flowers.

In the middle of the night Anna hears the footsteps again. She jumps down from the bed and opens the door. Daisy stands there holding a small teddy in her right hand. Anna bends down to touch Daisy. “Do you want some water sweety?” Daisy tries to open her mouth but then she throws off.

Anna picks her up gently and takes her to the bathroom.

Imaginative mind


Sunday morning, the bedroom is full of sun. Outside the new grass of March is blue-wet in the open, green-dry under the pines. Everything seems bright and clear. Vedika is up before everybody else.

Seven years old Vedika is sharp, a quick learner and headstrong.Her parents have signed her for voice lessons in a nearby music school. In a conservative Indian family voice lesson, violin or piano lessons are more preferable but not dance. This is the time in sixties, one of  the reality of society. But vedika’s curious mind wants an answer. So one afternoon, after lunch, her penetrating eyes glances at her grandmother. She is in a shiny mood. Vedika smiles and wraps her small hands around her grandmother’s waist. She says waving a brochure on her right hand, the shiny one with the information about classical dances. “ I would like a special gift from you for my Birthday.”

Her grandmother raises her eyes then lowers them to the front page of the local newspaper. “Sure, whatever you want.”

“Well then, I want to learn dance.” Vedika’s vibrating voice leaps up.

“What?” There is a big surprise on her eyes. She adjusts her gold rimmed eyeglass on her nose. A slight pause.Then she smiles.“ Darling, come, come close to me. There are some more wonderful things to learn like singing, violin, art but not dance. So ask for a different gift. How about a new pairs of gold bracelet or some new books?’’

Vedika drops her eyes to the ground. Her high hope disappears. “ Sure grandma, I will think about the gift and let you know.” She walks out of the room slowly with her head slightly bend, her hands dangling down.

Vedika is full of morning energy and her excitement bounces in her surroundings. It is like a big balloon rising up through her slowly, slowly, then very fast. From the trail of her eyes she looks at the big clock on the wall. It is almost nine. Her class starts at sharp nine thirty. She should leave for school now. The heart-shaped face with bright brown eyes, determination and pleasant smile appears at the front door.The thick wooden door parts.Just before entering into the room for the voice lesson her curious mind drags her to the big room to the left. The students inside the room practice dance lessons. They look so pretty with their rhythmic movements to the classical music. Vedika opens door slowly and walks in. She settles herself in one corner.The imagination in her mind takes wings.

Nothing disturbs her brilliant thoughts. They gather quickly and arrange themselves nicely.

In front of the big mirror Vedika looks at her reflection; the heavy, long eye liner on her eyes,the dark red lipstick, a medium sized red dot between her brows, the long gold earrings, the beautiful decoration on her forehead, the white and red flower arrangement on her artificial long black hair. She looks  very pretty. But she does not care much about the looks. She wants perfection in her dance steps. Vedika moves her foot, swings around to hear the vibrating sounds of the brass anklets with lots of tiny bells.

The classical music starts in a old record player. It swells  and scatters into the rooms in running notes. The atmosphere in the room gets lively.The dance starts. Vedika’s bright energetic eyes expresses precise and balanced movements and emotions with each steps. The bangle and the anklets jingle and create rhythmic sounds together with her graceful hands and persuasive foot works. Her big smile and different hand gestures throughout the dance expresses the joy of the nature and softly touches and conquers the audience.

“Vedika? What are you doing here? Go to your class. The voice lesson has started.” She hears a voice from the hallway. Her flow stops.The music trumbles to its final chords. Her foot stops. Her hands pauses in the middle of the last expression. She bows to her imaginary audience with a big smile. She has to go to the other class but one day she will learn the classical dance.

download.jpgdance                                         dance2

As exciting as it gets!

Life’s a Candy Store

Everywhere life forces want to get out. Things unintentionally contain baskets of energy. Some believe they are poems, others think they are dreams and yet others believe they are like sheets set out on the summer line holding fists of air. And for Hope, life is just continuous fun.

‘’Wait. Don’t run so fast. Wait for me.’’ Hope runs holding a stick behind the small brown puppy and her mother. Both the dogs are running through the green grass, through the small colorful flower bushes of the garden.  After half an hour of running and chasing each other now they are all tired. They sit on the soft green grass under a big flower tree. Everything stirs gently in the soft breath of cold air; the trees, the bushes, the grass, birds skipping from tree to tree, beautiful blue jays squawking excitedly, white pigeons cooing on the top of the pile of bricks in one corner of the garden. The mom dog lays there, nose on the paws with her long tail beating gently, watching the Robin pecking up some food crumbs from inside the grass. Hope leans against the big dog holding the puppy tightly in her arms. The puppy licks her face, gets distracted by the birds, then turns her face back towards Hope and licks her again. Hope giggles, her eyes dancing. She wipes her face on the back of her palm, and pulls out couple pieces of cookies from her dress pocket.

‘‘This one is for both of you and you have to share.’’ Hope gives the dogs the delicious cream filled cookies. ‘‘No, do not lick, that is mine.’’ Both the dog grabs the cookies from her hand and enjoy their snacks. Hope laughs. Suddenly Hope stops, not abruptly, yet with utter completeness, her jaw stilled mid- chew. Both the dogs lift their eyes and ears. There on the top of a long stem sits a beautiful butterfly; its wings are dark blue with yellow and white spots and seem very soft and velvety.

‘’Hope! Hope! Where are you? Are you in the garden? Hope!’’

Let’s go inside, grandma is calling. Hope makes a circle and runs towards the house.

Hope is almost five; pretty with olive skin tone, a heart shape face, big brown eyes and very sharp and intelligent. She is the favorite of both her grandmother and grandfather. She climbs the wide veranda steps, opens the massive double door, walks through the high center hall with lots of marble pillars on both sides and beautiful framed arts on the walls, colored glass chandeliers that hangs from yellow velvet cords, through the rich rugs of the living room to the marble floor of the dining hall and hugs her grandmother. Her grandmother is the best; she is warm, kind, a soother and understands others perfectly. The most important thing is that she has a pleasant sense of power of knowing, she smiles more than she frowns and she loves Hope.

‘‘Good morning!’’ Hope says tucking her hairs behind the ear. ‘‘Are we going any place in the morning?’’ Her grandmother looks astonishingly at Hope’s face and the lilac dress that caked with dust but she bends down and hugs Hope like she has been gone for a year and pats her shoulder like she is a puppy. She serves her breakfast, tilts her head slightly, smiles richly and says “Yes we are, after you finish your breakfast.”

Hope looks across the dining table with a tilted head and smiles. ‘‘I have one brilliant idea just like you always have. We should go to the book store, then to the beach and may be to a movie.’’ Hope looks at her grandmother’s face which has changed rapidly as fast moving scenes of a movie. Hope slides her chair close to her grandmother and touches her softly. “So after the movie we can go to the jewelry store and the dress shop that you enjoy.” Hope cranes her neck and kisses her grandmother on the cheeks and says ‘‘I know we will have a wonderful time.’’ She says excitedly.

After breakfast Hope climbs the circular stairs to her favorite room on the third floor to the left of the stair case. The flight of steps seems endless to her small feet. But she takes a deep breath and climbs to her destination. The room painted in delicate apricot gives off the pleasant aroma of the books. The solid decorated wood shelves in both sides of the room are full of books. The children’s magazines peek out from the wicker basket at one corner of the room. The room is very cozy. Hope stands on one of the sturdy wood chair close to the book shelve and with both hands pulls out a few of the big books that have lots of pictures of kings, queens, castles and horses. Settling herself more luxuriously up on the sofa leaning against the cushion, she opens the book. She turns the pages with her small fingers. “Wow!” She says and looks at the pictures closely. For her every part of book is magic. She slid into books like a seal into water. As she finishes looking at the beautiful pictures she stacks them on a pile on the table in front of the sofa and pulls out her drawing book and the sketch pencil and a pack of crayons. She bends down and draws picture; Picture of a baby blue sky, of the gray mountains with a few  black goats with small ears grazing here and there, of a pretty deep purple peacock, a few pink roses and yellow zinnias in a green lawn, of two elephants and two  dogs both mom and the baby. The pictures are not that perfect but cute with lots of circles, tringles, lines and pretty colors.

“Hope! Come downstairs. Let’s move now”. Grandmother calls from downstairs. Hope puts all the crayons back in the box, pulls the chair close to arrange the books on the shelve. She likes everything to be neat and in order.  Hope closes the door from behind and walks down the stairs with her ponytail swaying bright and cheerful as a sunflower. They drive to the beach. A beautiful afternoon.  Hope props her chin on one hand and through the car window she looks at the high clouds rolling across the blue sky. Hope walks into the sea water holding her grandmother’s finger. It is so much fun when the big wave comes and bumps her on the face. They giggle and laugh. Hope sits on the shore in her wet dress and builds big sand castle, like the one from the picture book. She decorates the castle with different small shells that she finds in the sand. Her grandmother sits there on the soft sand and chit chats with some other ladies who are visiting with their families. It is almost late afternoon. They drive back home.

On the way to home they stop by the ice cream shop. “Hope, go inside to the store with the driver and pick up the ice-cream that you like.” Her grandmother opens her purse and hands out the cash to the driver.

“Thank you, grandma! You are the best.” Hope laughs and opens the car door. Hope picks up the vanilla ice-cream with chocolate and caramel topping and pistachio flavor for her grandmother.

At home during dinner Hope sits close to her grandfather and tells him her exciting adventure from morning to evening. All the uncle and aunts in the dining table smile and enjoy her story. The day never ends without bed time stories. Hope snuggles against her grandmother on the bed and her head tilts slightly, listens, offering rarest of gift: her unequivocal attention to the stories of adventure one after another until grandmother falls sleep. As soon as her grandmother falls sleep, Hope adjusts her pillow, closes her eyes and pretends to be in the leading character of the series of adventure stories.

The disappearance of an innocent world.

When Childhood Ends

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again“. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

It happened in one late afternoon in spring. It was a Sunday. Everything was perfect in my imagination; the statues in the garden would step down and walk, the characters of the fairy tale would emerge and talk, the walls would speak, the trees would transform to small children and play. I as the brave princess was standing tall close to the big magnolia tree, in the front garden in my parent’s house. The air was alive with chatter, and enthusiasm. I took a deep breath, as big as a gulp of air as I could and held it to push back at the fear. I adjusted my sword, bowed my head to the all my friends. There was an air of expectancy everywhere. The world seemed to hold its breath. Then it started. I was running around in between the big trees holding my cocker spaniel puppy in one hand and a long broken tree branch in the other. I was trying my best to fight and protect all from the evil monster. The fight was very hard and tricky but I tried my best.

‘Yes, yes, we won!’ There the monster was laying flat on the grass, not dead but tired and shamed from loss. I spared his life and gave him a second chance. I stood straight, swiped my sweat from my forehead in the back of my palm, removed a strand of hair from over my eyes and threw the broken stick to the ground.  A general air of surprise and genuine satisfaction fell upon everyone. I looked around and saw the rich smile on the faces of all the statues, on all the trees and on the faces of my favorite characters. ‘Wow! You won the battle and made us proud. Bravo!’ They raised their right hands to their lips, laying thumb and forefinger together and threw kiss of reverence and waived cheerfully.

‘Thank you for all your support.’ I said with a smile, waving my right hand proudly. They all cheered ‘Now you are the queen.’ Their voices were high and penetrating and were woven into fantastic patterns of high- hope, assurance, excitement, courage and fulfilment.

‘Amber! Amber! Where are you?’ I paused and turned around as I heard my mother’s voice. I made a few cart –wheels, plucked one pretty bright pink rose from one of the rose bush and sailed across the garden to the house. I walked into the kitchen where my mother was standing with a bowl of mixed vegetables in one hand and a cup of milk on the other hand.

‘Hi Mom’ I said, as I carefully set the flower in front of her on the table. ‘For you, Happy Sunday!’ I smeld the rich scent of heating spices and also at the same time felt something different in the air. Leafing through my hair I smiled nervously. She tipped her head to one side, looked at me. The expression on her face was too familiar. Quickly I said, ‘I was in the garden, playing with the puppy’.

My mom handed me the cup of milk and asked, ‘How old are you? This not an age to play anymore with your make-belief friends. Be realistic. Now you should focus more on your studies and learn some other thing except books and friends’.

I took a sip from the warm milk and said, ‘Yes, I should concentrate more on my studies but what are the other things that are more important?’ I clasped my hands and continued with my sentence that how much I liked sketching, writing stories and reading.

My mother raised her eyebrows and nodded. My heart squeezed momentarily.  There was a long pause. She adjusted her eyeglass on her nose and said, ‘You are not a small kid any more so you need to learn how to act according to your age. Go to your room finish your home- work then come and help me in the kitchen.’ Her voice was quiet grave now and it matching her eyes.

A little whisper escaped my slightly parted lips.


Growing Up

The Early Years  ( Page three of your autobiography)

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning are more fragrant than ever again” .- Elizabeth Lawrence

Another exciting morning. Through the big bedroom window I could see the beautiful golden sun-beams  trickled through the branches. Yes that was pretty, but I enjoyed more of the beautiful hum of  prayer of my grand mother from the up-stair room . Then the sounds of rattling containers of tin and glasses, shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots from the big kitchen in down-stair sounded like a culinary orchestra tuning up. Something impressive was being created by the chef. Suddenly I remembered about the cute puppy whom I rescued from the side of the road and left him in one small room on the side of the staff quarters with a small bowl of milk. I climbed down the stairs in fast feet but the flight of steps seemed endless. I opened the door.”Hi!” I whispered, crouching down to enfold the wiggling brown puppy in my arm. He had long droopy ears, white legs and a small brown tail with a white tip. I scratched him behind the ear and sat there on the floor holding him on my lap. ‘ Are you missing your mom? ‘ I asked him softly and kissed his head. We spend a long time playing with each other until I heard my name.

‘Yes grand ma. Did you call me?’ I said and pulled the dining chair closer to her.I glanced at the breakfast and the big cup of milk on the table. I swiped my bang from my forehead and said, ‘ But I am not hungry and I do not want any milk. Please.’

My grandmother knew all the tricks. She pulled me closer to her lap and said,’ Sure, you are not hungry but I am planning to tell you a long story about a brave king and then after that to visit the book store to get some books for you. If you finish your breakfast then we can go otherwise ..’

‘Wait. I will finish everything. Go ahead with the story first.’ I said with a small smile and started eating the breakfast. The beautiful picture of the books were already floating in my mind.

It was a pretty day just like the other days. I was almost four and half, that I heard from one of my aunt as she was helping me to wear a light blue dress. It had small white flowers on the neck and lots of frill and white lace, one of my favorite. My aunt was trying to make a nice pony-tail before her friends come to visit and I knew their game plan; her friends will sing songs and I have to figure out that song from the right movie and then I will be showered with hugs and kisses. That was not much fun than spending time with the books; my magic land. My grand- mother brought a lots of coloring books and a few picture books from the store. I could not wait to see the books.

The other day in the early morning I walked downstairs, twisted the door knob and walked into the front porch.  I climbed up onto a small chair and sat with a coloring book and four pencils; red, yellow, orange and a blue. I liked the quietness of the morning but then I looked through the big steel door with bars.There was a beggar with her two small kids and a dog. She was begging for money or food for her family. I did not know what to do. It is hard to see others beg for anything so I ran inside to the storage room and brought a handful of raw rice, a few bananas and a small bowl of milk for the dog. I looked around for the guard but he was not at the door, so I pushed the door with my little hands. A smile spread from the mother’s tightly pressed mouth to her cheeks and almost up to her hair. Her happiness bounce and touched me.

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