Archive for April 2011:

The Illegal Squatter

The just completed house was a perfectly wrought jewel box.  Every single detail had been meticulously looked into.  Architect Shiva Shenoy had observed all the Vaastu diktats for his dream home.  It had aesthetic beauty with an inviting openness similar to those amazing floor through homes he had seen in America.  He had selected very pleasing pastel colors for the walls.  Any all old moldings, doors, windows, locks and details that could be salvaged from the old house had been reverently utilized giving the new home an extra élan and character.  An old family portrait occupied a place of honor.   It was an eco friendly green home which would keep house cool in summer, warm in winter, recycle water, and harness sunlight. A wonderful tree house atop an old banyan tree had come with the property along with the old family portrait.  The housewarming ceremony was a mere week away.

An unexpected SOS call from their US settled engineer son Shivam saw them on a flight bound for America.  The ceremony would be rescheduled upon return.  Shiva’s office staff started making cancellation calls to all invitees.

Ailing prisoner number 8957 had been released with thirteen others in exchange for the one political prisoner.  Pakistan authorities had failed to elicit any credible information from 8957 and had happily gotten rid of him.  8957 was sent to the army hospital.

Fingerprints and other tags in his old bag provided some clues and finally he was identified as Caption Karan Singh who had gone missing about a dozen years ago.  Sadly his grieving family of grand parents, parents had passed on due to broken hearts.  His only sister was happily married and lived in USA.  She had reluctantly sold the property and had decided to also leave the family portrait after taking several photographs of it.   The sale was contingent upon two conditions which had to be met.  The family portrait would occupy a place of honor and the tree house would not be cut down.  One friendly request was a permission to visit the property whenever she came to India.  Shiva Shenoy and his wife had acceded to them.  They were empty nesters with a son in USA and daughter in Dubai.  They couldn’t wait to move into their new home.
Jyoti Kanwar Singh, Capt. Karan’s sister was contacted and given the happy news.  Ecstatic with joy, she flew back to India the very next day.  Seeing her brother’s vacant eyes and piteous condition, she was heart broken.  Being a determined lady, she decided to help get him back on his feet.  The doctors suggested he be taken to the old home to accelerate recovery.  They left immediately.
The tree house, family portrait and other small knick knacks still kept in storage in a back shed by the Shenoy sparked some flares of recognition. 
Jyoti would keep talking about all their childhood events of joy sadness truancy and the umpteen tree house parties they had enjoyed together in their
growing years.  Slowly and surely Karan started regaining his strength and memory.  Finally it all came back.  This was like a watershed and they both
wept over the loss of their loved ones.  First thing they did was to have Karan perform shraddha** ceremony for the departed at the behest of their
family priest.  Now they could move forward.
She showed him photos of her husband and twin boys.  Karan was delighted to know that he was an uncle.  She wanted him to migrate but he wanted to stay in the house and resume service if his officer would have him.  She told him the property no longer belonged to them but he refused to budge.  Meanwhile she had to fly back which she did after extracting a promise of weekly phone calls and email updates from Karan. 


The Shenoys returned home after a couple of months.  They couldn’t wait to move into their dream home.  They called the pundit for an auspicious time and day for the move.  This time it would be only close family and friends.  All set and fully rested, they drove to their property.  They got the shock of their lives. 
The house was lit and the music was playing.  Gingerly they opened the door and walked in.  They saw a stranger sitting comfortably as though the house belonged to him and they were the interlopers.  Keeping their wits about, they greeted the man and asked to be seated. Then Karan spoke.

Karan told them that he knew that the house was no longer his but he had nowhere else to go. He had grown up here and wished to die here as well.  He wanted to buy it back.  The Shenoys were aghast.  They told him that it was not a matter of money.  They had built their dream home for which they had sweated all their lives.  He could not abort their dream before full term.  They would be devastated.  They had come to an impasse.  They decided to go home and sleep on it and return in the morning in a better frame of mind.  Karan appeared nonchalant.  For him there was no other option!
The Shenoy couple’s heads were in turmoil.  What to do! How to skin this cat!  They thought of various options but nothing appealed.  Their squatter meant business.  He was an army man and they had lots of respect for him and also felt sorry for him.  Poor man! He’d looked so lost but “we want our home backkk” their minds wailed!  They decided to speak to Jyoti, Karan’s sister.  She gave them an ingenious out.
Next morning with a spring in their steps they went to see Karan.    He welcomed them with tea and pastries and reiterated his offer.  They told him to hear their counter offer.
They said why not share this home!  We can build a small outhouse adjacent to the tree house as there was lots of acreage with the property.  This way they would both have privacy and each other’s company when desired.  Karan too liked the idea as he missed the old folks terribly.  He agreed and they came to amicable financial settlement with everything written in black and white to avoid any future strife.

The housewarming was attended by close family members of both Shenoys and Karan Singh who had also invited comrades from his old regiment and childhood friends.  Shenoy children, grandchildren and Jyoti along with her seven year old twins and husband were all in full attendance.

The faces in the family portrait beamed.  It was as though old ancestors had come home. The branches and the leaves on the old tree shook happily in celebration.

Vaastu*:  means the dwelling of humans & Gods. Vaastu shastra is an ancient science which helps one to get the natural benefits
 freely offered by the five basic elements of the universe in which we all live. These basic elements are Akash (SKY),
 Prithvi (EARTH), Paani (WATER), Agni (FIRE), and Vayu (WIND). Vastu Shastra can be applied by keeping in harmony with
 these basic five elements of nature. Vaastu Shastra is an edifice science that was developed by our learned people
thousands of years ago. Its application today is purely architectural and its principles are based on becoming one with nature.
sraddha**, Sanskrit ?r?ddha, also spelled Shraddha, in Hinduism, a ceremony performed in honour of a dead ancestor. The rite is both a social and a religious responsibility enjoined on all male Hindus (with the exception of some sannyasis, or ascetics). The importance given in India to the birth of sons is to ensure that there will be a male descendant to perform the sraddha ceremony after one’s death.

The rite is performed for the deceased father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and also for the mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. It is intended to nourish, protect, and support the spirits of the dead in their pilgrimage from the lower to higher realms, preceding their reincarnation and reappearance on Earth. The rites are performed between the 11th and 31st days after death, depending on caste traditions, and at regular intervals thereafter. The first annual death anniversary is observed by a sraddha ceremony that enables the deceased (preta) to be admitted into the assembly of forefathers (pitr).

Twenty Word Story

Memory Album





















Let Self Go!

let self loose for once
understated responses
make me fume

exuberance fizzles
Like failed pudding
settled before peaking

measured emotions
cooled cresting passion
euphoria slunk out

joy turned sheepish, tail between
legs, conduct unbecoming is display
of untrammeled excitement for you

for me living life to the hilt with
dancing eyes, joy threatening spills
Is only way to go, share and live


picture is from internet