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After giving birth to two children and raising them for so many years, I thought I knew what I was doing. One difficult pregnancy and another life-threatening delivery later, I believed I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy. I was sure it would be a cake walk the third time around. So, when I came to know about this pregnancy, I was not at all worried, rather I felt so comfortable as I knew what I was supposed to do…wasn’t I? Well, I was so wrong there!

The first 3 months were hard as expected, but this time around, the nausea was as bad as it can be. And I finally realized it was much better to be throwing up all the time, than to be having the feeling without any output…errgh! I started hating food items that have been a constant presence in my life till now. I cannot even look at certain of them. On the other hand, I would sometimes have strong cravings for something and when I ate it, I wouldn’t want to have it again. I am still not able to able to understand what I like these days – sweet, spicy, Italian, Chinese…there is no constant anymore and variables are all in some other plane than my little mind can comprehend.

Anyway, I counted weeks since they say the second trimester is the easiest, and guess what…does anything in my life go as planned? The onset of fourth month brought different set of problems with it. I was even bed ridden for a week. And now, I am thinking “God, just give me the strength to go through all this with a smile.”

Then, there is the issue of finding maternity clothing….either I have too big a bump (though I see them all around, but the makers of maternity clothing seem to think so!!!) or this place is not good for being pregnant (of course another surprise since Qatar is one of those countries where people are encouraged to have more kids). Anyway, I have come up with some temporary solutions, since I know anything that I buy will anyway last only for a couple of months! I even went to the extent of using hubby’s rarely worn long and loose shirts, and I wish he was fatter 🙂 (he will hate me for this but I am desperate).

All in all, as they say every pregnancy is different…I got rid of my “know-it-all” syndrome and dealing with each day as it comes; I think this is the only way.

The best part this time is that since my other two kids are grown up enough to understand, they are pretty excited about the ‘new baby’. In fact, they are counting days and keep asking me questions – the gender, when exactly he/she will be born, how are babies born, what size are they on their birth, when can older siblings start taking care of small babies etc. Of course, their excitement keeps me excited too, and sometimes I too get impatient like them…but then I think,  it’s really easier to take care of yourself in pregnancy than to take care of a new born…so let me just enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

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I have put this off for several months now…by ‘this’ I mean – writing. Perhaps I was too glad about my second book, or maybe I started thinking I am not crafted for this (imagine how that obnoxious thought entered my mind, but it did!). At first, I told myself I am taking a well-deserved break (yeah right, what exactly did I do to “deserve” it? Sell millions of copies of my books?) Then, I thought that there is so much to do at work which I was carrying home sometimes, and then…well, there were excuses and more excuses. But I did write an article for a magazine in these past 6 months (oh now that counts!!!). Anyway, I am back to writing again. I am starting with blog but am going to follow-up with the book that lies unfinished for so many months (aah!).

Okay I think the writer inside me has so much to say that there are two threads going on here…let me just catch one.

To talk about the writing stuff, I was busy but I was also self-sabotaging, by telling myself how I should treat writing only as a hobby and it doesn’t mean much if I never make it big as a writer or worse, that I perhaps was not destined to. But now, I am past all that negativity and perhaps it is time to make another promise to myself – I will always be a writer, no matter what anyone says, no matter what I think and no matter how busy I get. Being a writer is my whole being, it is my identity.

Also, I am past the stage where I could run away from commitment. I am already into this for life. It took me 20 years to actually accept that I want to be a writer and I cannot give up just in 5-6 years! I have to try harder and I have to give it at least the same time as I took to tell myself that writing was my love. So there goes that.

Now coming to the personal stuff, I want to make an announcement. God is kind enough to me to have blessed me with two angels in my life, and perhaps He thinks I need more of His love, so there is another angel on the way…yes, I am expecting my third baby 🙂

Now, I have encountered raised eyebrows and stunned reactions to that in past couple of weeks. It was not supposed to be known so soon but due to some unexpected reason, it became known to people around me. Being an Indian, where most of the people my generation opt for a single child because of financial or personal reasons; also, those who go for a third are usually the ones who are still trying for a boy, I am probably one of the very few, who just want to have another one. I am blessed with a son and a daughter, so people usually don’t understand why I decided to have one more child. So the next thought that enters their narrow minds is – it must not be planned. And some of them (i.e. those who do not fit into family or friends category) even asked me this! And I had to make an effort to keep myself calm!

I think this is a good start or restart…good news and a promise to myself. And I end with a prayer to God “Dear Lord, bless us all; those who ask for it and those who don’t; those who need it and those who don’t; those who believe in the power of prayer and those who don’t; shower your blessings and love on us, as you always have.”

I did not intend to write a second book of short stories after I published my first, ‘Love, It Is!’ (Buy it here.) But then, one fine day, I promised myself that in the year 2013, I wanted to gift myself another book. I gave myself a deadline, since I did not want to let 2013 go by. I decided to use one of the auspicious dates in my life – 23rd June. And I announced it so that I was under pressure to complete the book by that date.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to write 15 stories like I did for the first one, but I also knew these stories would be bolder and better. I understood that when I hold myself back as a writer and do not write what scares me and aim to write only happy endings, I am not being fair to the writer in me. I have no right to hold back the thoughts and plots. I have to give in to the stories…to the plot and to the reality. And that’s what I did.

I wrote these dark stories that I had heard of or read of or saw a part of, in several years. I had many stories and situations in my mind, but I chose only a few, which had affected me enough to replay the events in my mind several times. I can still write many more such stories, but I did not want the book to be a work in progress for a long time.

Also, it is a very good feeling when you write a story that ends in smiles and tears of joy. You feel good about yourself and you feel glad that you wrote something that has the potential to give hope to someone. And you forget for a while that it is just a story and life could be so different and tougher. In fact, you feel in your heart that someone somewhere would read the happy story about love and will perhaps start believing in love or maybe believe more strongly.

On the other hand, when you write a dark story that ends in a different way than you would want it to or in a way that is unfair to the character you love so much, it is painful. You keep wondering ‘what if I tweak it a bit, just a little so that the X person is happy’ and you have to stop yourself from doing it just because you know that the story loses its essence. You have to force yourself to not meddle with the story or the characters. You have to give in to the weaknesses of those characters, because that’s how they are. Perhaps you created them that way, maybe you based them on someone you knew and that’s how they are in life. But as a writer, you cannot change the character just because you want to. Hence, writing a dark story is very tiring. It keeps playing in your mind and you have to silence the voice in your head which asks you to interfere with the writing and the writer in you.

This kind of stories affect people like me even more. I am one of those people who faint at the sight of blood, who turn away their face when a nurse withdraws blood from my child’s arm, who cannot watch a movie with gross murder scenes, who are affected for weeks when they read about an abuse in the newspaper, who cry for children who are subject to atrocities by their own relatives. I am one of those people who stop reading newspapers or watching news because it’s all so sad and negative.

So, it’s no wonder that I was able to complete only 7 dark love stories for my second book. But since I am that person who loves happy endings, I threw in a story at the last-minute which ends on a happy note, so that the reader can close the book with a sigh of relief. Oh there I go…revealed the plot of the last story 😉

The second book required more effort because of several reasons – the kind of stories, the timeline, the full-time job which (un)surprisingly got busier just before the book’s publishing date, and other miscellaneous factors. Yet, I finished on time, with one story more than the number I had in  my mind. That’s a promise fulfilled – a gift to myself 🙂

‘Love No More’ was published on 23rd June, 2013 (as planned) and can be purchased from Amazon at the following link:

Love No More  (Read and provide feedback)

Picture this. It is 15 – 20 years from now. When you look back at today, would you ask yourself the question “Did I settle for financial security? Did I know that I had the passion to be what I dreamt of being and yet I sacrificed that for a mediocre (or even high profile) job?” This question haunts me every single time I want to write something and I am unable to because of work or other responsibilities. I read the biographies of people I think as great writers/poets and there is a common element I see there. Except for a very few lucky ones, all the others had a tough youth, meaning they did not have a decent job, or financial means to even support them. Many of them just wandered around, taking up some what we call as ‘lowly’ odd jobs, until one day, the fate tested them for courage. They, of course, exhibited the courage (precisely why we have their biographies) and they were rewarded with what they wanted to be! The most important common element in the stories of these great writers/poets is – they did not settle. I am sure many must have told them they are wasting away their skills or life. Many must have discouraged them. Many must even have ridiculed them. But it did not bother them. They did not settle, despite all odds against them, despite everyone around them asking to.

I dread to think that I will answer that question in affirmative. Because I have been telling myself I have time, I will be 100% dedicated to writing after I am done with x or have handled my y responsibility etc. But what if I don’t have time? I keep postponing my dream as if I get to decide how long I am going to live! I keep lying to myself every day that I will succeed despite not giving it my 100%.

So what do I do? Quit my job, a well-settled life and devote myself to my dream? Is it that simple? What about the practical day-to-day responsibilities I have towards people I love?

What is a bigger remorse – shunning the comforts and try to act on my passion, which has a risk of being unsuccessful? Or settling for a mediocre life?

This story starts from the time I started understanding the concept of God. In my childhood years, I just did what the adults around me did. I prayed in the school assembly, at home, in front of the idols of Hindu Gods, in the temple. I still bow my head when I pass a religious place (esp a Temple and a Gurudwara). I make the cross sign when I am in front of a Church. All this because I grew up in a neighbourhood where a temple, gurudwara and church are located in the vicinity. Also because, my parents, though they passed the Hinduism faith because they themselves are Hindus, never taught me to not respect other religions. I do not remember ever hearing them categorize someone by their religion. And I am really grateful to my parents for that. It is because of them, I was able to look beyond religion and made Christian, Muslim and Sikh friends who have been as good to me as any Hindu friend.

But in those years, I was taught to respect God and sometimes even fear Him. When I grew up a little, I somehow did not feel the fear. I used to ask myself if God is the ultimate being, if He is the epitome of righteousness and goodness, why would He punish someone for things like not praying to Him? I wondered what was really the truth behind the fear that people feel from God. And though I might not really know the real reason, but I think this has two aspects.

First, when these social rules were made and the rulers thought the ways in which they could make people follow them without questioning, I think the best way they thought was fear. If they logically explained to people a simple thing like ‘do not lie’, how many people would pay attention? But when they said ‘do not lie or God will punish you’…that would make them listen. Now, I think there was a need to say this to those people because there were only a few educated & learned men in the olden days and they must have thought it would be tough to reason with others who did not have any education and did not understand life as the learned men believed they themselves did.

The second aspect of fear might have begun when the religious leaders came into picture. Now, the learned men at least had their skills and talents to make people listen to them. But think about these religious heads of any society. In ancient India, a priest was someone who was educated, had spent years in meditating about life, and had some insights into a human mind. Many times, these priests were like today’s research scientists, who developed a skill or invented something. I have read many instances of this kind of knowledge accumulated by these priests in Hindu scriptures (though in those stories, these might seem like some magical powers these people had, but over the years I have come to analyze those were scientific inventions and not magical powers). So a priest was typically someone with skills, talent, education etc. But then, later on, a boy born in the house of a priest became a priest and so on. Unfortunately, the sons of the priests might not have the same skill set and talent as their fathers. So they used fear as method of submission by the public.

These were my understandings of the fear in religion. I can’t say if I am right but I know one thing for sure. God loves. He gives. God would never say to you “I will love you and take care of you only if you go to such & such temple and give the priest X amount of money to pray to me”! (Since the rule makers were the religious heads, maybe it was their way of securing an income for themselves). Anyway, so long back, when I understood these things – by using my mind, by listening to some good people around me, by reading about the horrors of extremist crimes committed in name of religion, I stopped fearing God. I started loving Him. I knew my relationship with God cannot be defined by another human being’s beliefs or teachings. I came to believe that God loved me, no matter what. He did not ask me to make sacrifices in return for love. His love is the purest and cannot be tainted with expectations, demands, monetary offerings etc.

I am not saying I don’t donate money in temples or elsewhere. I still go to temple, gurudwara, church but when I am giving money there, I understand it is not for God. It is for the priest, who earns his livelihood by praying and maintaining these religious places. I know I am not giving the money to God but to those who are trying to keep God in our lives (though their ways might seem crude to me). When I bow in front of a religious building, it is not out of fear but purely out of respect for God. Even though He is everywhere around me, those places still mark his abode for me. I somehow get peace when I visit those places, hence I show my respect towards them. Also, when I visit a religious place, I do with lots of faith in my heart; faith towards God. I still believe we humans require rules to love by otherwise there will be chaos everywhere. Hence, I respect those rules and try to follow them. I know the method might have been not up to my liking, but the intent behind the rules was good – to keep an order in the society and to ensure people were essentially good.

I used to read Rajnish Osho a lot in my teenage years and though there were things I did not agree with, yet there were some that left a mark on me. One such book I read was about happy religion. Osho mentioned in one of his addresses that in Hinduism, we almost always relate being religious with being sad. A person who devotes himself in God’s service is supposed to meditate in faraway places, being all alone, is supposed to be serious all the time, is supposed to sacrifice good food and clothes etc. Osho goes on to say this was true till Lord Krishna arrived on the scene. His religion was the only happy religion. Lord Krishna is a happily singing, dancing God who sometimes even playfully flirts with women. He preached that we could live a full life and do all our duties and yet be close to God. That book touched a chord in me. Many scriptures teach it and there are a few stories also in Hindu mythology to emphasize on the fact that one can live a full life and be a true devotee of God. My respected Guru also said the same thing to me – “If you do not forget God, He will always be with you”. The problem is, sometimes we stop asking Him to be with us.

So my relationship with God has been pretty simple – love Him, remember Him everyday and know that He is always there for me, no matter what. I do respect God, but I don’t fear Him. I do love Him but I might not sit with folded hands in front of His idol every morning. I would love to follow the rule of lighting a diya in my house every morning and evening, but not doing so does not mean I have forgotten God. I pray in my own way – I talk to God, all the time. When I am happy, I thank Him. When I am angry, I vent out to Him. I do not need a special place to talk to Him and I don’t even have to talk aloud 🙂 And I truly believe He listens and He is always around.

Writing, of course! Right? But…

Why do I write? There is no simple answer to that. I write because I love it; because it gives me a contentment I never imagined; because it is therapeutic for me. If I am happy, my joy multiplies by writing about it; if I am sorrowful, I find solace in writing. When I write, I may not be writing about the sorrow in the current time, but just putting down few meaningful words on a document makes me feel sane and makes me forget the pain.

We have always heard that love makes you lose sleep and appetite; writing does the same for me. If I feel like writing, I can start at 12 in the night, even after a long and tiring day; and I have to force myself to stop and get some sleep since there will be another tiring day to face. When I write, there is no hunger and no sense of time or place. Writing is another world for me, a world where I can control my negative emotions and generate more positivity.

As you day-dream in love, I dream about writing. I dream about a day when I could get up in the morning and just start writing, and continue till I feel like, without bothering about job, home, food, anything. My ideal day would begin writing while sitting under a tree, surrounded by a beautiful garden and a waterfall in the background. I crave for the freedom to pickup the pen and paper (or laptop) anytime a story idea struck me. I fantasize about the ability to go into the fiction world whenever and wherever I wished. I guess I am just in love with writing. And good thing about this love affair is that I am probably never gonna be at the stage of familiarity and boredom…there is so much to learn, to evolve, as a writer. This is just the beginning, for something which will never end since I will never stop learning as a writer.

Most of the time, while I am doing the household tasks, I enter into my fantasy world and start thinking about story ideas and plots. Most of those never make it to the paper. They just keep developing in my mind and stay there. Some are even lost. There are others which reach to the point of getting acknowledged in the form of a Word doc, but just lay there unfinished and unattended. But I write them because I know I will use them sometime in the future; even if I don’t, they help me in finding new ones and they serve as a practice for something I want to write about.

And most of the times, those stories that never make it to end or sharing with others, were actually not meant to be for that purpose. My stories give me a sense of relaxation which people usually find when they share with the closest of friends or with a therapist. I have my own counselor, always with me. I never need to take an appointment, I do not bother about the time limit, and I don’t have to care about the fees 😉 I have a very fulfilling relationship with writing.

Long back, when I wrote very rarely, I found the same fulfillment in reading. Sometimes, when I had nothing to read and I needed some therapy, I would read even my course books! Sometimes, I used to wonder if I was crazy, living in a fantasy world and finding contentment sharing with books, rather than with people. But it turned out well in the end. And I am still a lover of books, though my preference has changed a lot over the years and I no longer read any academic books to feel better 😉 Though I still read my daughter’s coursebooks sometimes, curious about what they teach now and how it is different. Though I prefer reading in English, I do love Hindi books as well, especially stories by Premchand. I am a true lover!

But now, I have two loves…writing joined the race long back, when I was just 10…but it was a close second always. Now, I cannot differentiate. So here I am, the lucky one, who found love, not once but twice. A love affair that never goes stale, partners that never become boring, activities that never become routine…and love that is different and better every day!

Every single time I sit down to write something, I thank my school for making me a reader. I believe I didn’t have a remote chance at writing if I was not such a passionate reader. And this affair started at school. I was in class 6th and we used to have a Library period. The first novel I read was that of Nancy Drew. Though I was fond of reading before that, actually ever since I can remember but what took the passion to a height was the Library period.

If I start from the beginning, I remember I used to save the money I got for toffees or chocolates to rent comics books from a make-shift shop under a tree near to my house. I used to love reading those books…there was something about those superheroes that touched me and all I wanted to do was just to keep reading. I, my sister and my cousins would all go to the shop and rent out 6-7 such books. It used to cost 50 p for a normal size book and Re. 1 for a digest (the thick one). And I remember we used to spend a lot of money on renting those and I was never content with whatever I read…I always wanted more. But there was a good thing about renting them together. I was the eldest and the fastest reader, so everyone would ask me to read for them. Did I love it? Absolutely! We would sit on the stairs and would devour all those we could rent in a day. Most children forget hunger and thirst while playing, but I did that while reading. Even when everyone would be bored listening, I would continue reading for myself.

The second in preference were text books. We used to get our text books for the academic year 15 days before the school actually began. And, during those 15 days, I would have read all my English and Hindi text-book stories. Then, I would do the same with my sister’s or cousin’s books, even though I knew I had read them in earlier classes. I remember this one time when I was left with no new stories in the language text books, so I read my Social studies book as well! So what if it was not fiction, there were stories about history, great leaders! That was how much I loved reading.

There were rare occasions when someone would gift me a book. That would be the best gift ever. I remember every single book I received as a gift. I also remember, not with proud, that my best friend of that time lost one of my books, actually the very first English novel I owned (‘Kidnapped’). And I didn’t talk to her for days. It was a shame and I knew I hurt her, but I was just too much in love with my books. I feel sorry for my friend though, it was simply mean.

Coming back to Nancy Drew affair – the first novel I ever read cover to cover. It was mandatory to read the library books and the teacher could ask us questions from the book she gave to us. But I did not need a reason to finish the book, I just simply did. But the rule of the library was not to lend more than one book per student. So I used to borrow them from not-so-enthusiastic readers, and read. In exchange, I would give them a brief synopsis of the book, in case the teacher asked! Yeah, it was cheating, but I wanted to read the books and some students wouldn’t lend them easily.

And after one year, my parents realized that I had become careless towards my studies because I was spending too much time reading. For some time, I was banned from reading more than required and I would hide and read them, still. Now I realize how many rules I broke and how many lies I told just to continue the passion of reading. That was a short phase, thankfully. I grew up a bit and learned to manage time. I trained myself to keep the book down, before finishing it. (It is still a big task for me though).

Of course, later I started reading maturer fiction and non-fiction. One of my cousins introduced me to latter. After I started it though, I stopped my affair with fiction for some time. Yet, old habits die hard. So now, my reading list is always a combination of fiction, non-fiction, self-help, biographies…everything good I can lay my hands on. There are many writers I loved, many classics and contemporary books I loved, some I hated, some had good concept but bad style, others had good style but not-so-good plot…I have read them all. And most of the times I have finished a book I started, even though sometimes, it would take me months to do so due to circumstances. But there are just 2-3 books that I could not finish. It is a rare occurence…averaging to about one book in 8 years I guess. Those were really bad ones and I could not carry on, how much ever I tried. I felt uneasy leaving a book unfinished , yet when I picked them again to read, I could not make myself do it, whatever efforts I put into it. So those were really bad ones, I am sure. If a book lover like me cannot finish a book, it must be pretty bad! And then, there are those that I have read more than once, several times! Shakespeare is obviously one of the adored writers, and I can pick any of his work anytime and read it to the finish, irrespective of how many times I have already read it. I have read the classic poets also. I used to love reading poetry as much as I did prose. That’s why before I was a writer, I was a poet. I could always understand the deeper meanings of the poems, even before the teacher would explain to us. I could visualize the poet pouring his/her heart out into what they wrote. I could come close to feeling their emotions when they composed those poems. I loved poetry.

Then, came the internet era…my dad bought me a PC when I was in college. It opened a whole lot of possibilities for me…I could read as much as I wanted…and many a time, I did not have to buy the books. But honestly, I still prefer a paperback. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of sitting in bed with a book open and letting your thoughts flow with the words of the author. I love the smell of pages and if I had a choice I would prefer writing also the traditional way. The electronic medium somehow doesn’t feel the same. Though of course, I have read many books on this medium, yet I would anytime prefer traditional ways…I am old-fashioned I guess.

My Books

Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

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