I turned seventy-five yesterday. Maxine, this alluring intuit from Mexico, told Sanjay last year, that I would wake up on the morning of my seventy-fifth birthday, struck by an unexpected epiphany that would change my life for the better.  You’ve probably already seen her on Youtube. These days it seems as if everyone is on Youtube, screaming their lives out, screaming every small detail out. Well, I woke up yesterday morning, groggy, eyelashes so sticky it was an effort to pry them open. I had to rush to the toilet exactly ten seconds after I woke up. Nothing epiphanous, really.

Everyone says it is monumental, to turn seventy-five. My nephew, Sanjay, who had a baby a year ago, told me over phone it was far beyond his imagination that someone could actually spend three quarters of a century on the planet and still be alive. Well, Sanjay is on cancer remission, so I wouldn’t be surprised he feels that way. But that fellow has a zest for life: he is a fighter, although his mother, my sister, wasn’t. He smiled his way through all the symptoms last year, and when I suggested he take therapy, he said, uncle, what has to happen will happen, why tamper with something that is meant to be? That surprised me, because if his being was attuned to that level of acceptance, what was he doing at Maxine’s last year, hankering after the future?  

He is the only thing I have to call my own.

I loved my sister; she had the most beautiful laugh in the world. But the kindest and nicest people always leave the world too soon.

Well, I had a wife who lasted twenty-five years, but she left me for a God man with money buried all over his backyard. Sanjay and his wife, Shantha, are really good to me, though. He has never been close to his father, the man is too detached, he often says. But this surprises me. I’m the most detached person I know, and Sanjay loves me.

But there’s honestly nothing more to me than that I’m seventy-five and that I make omelettes every morning. Or perhaps, there is more. After Prema left me, I stick to omelettes, they are easier to make, and I’ve begun to fall in love with the shape of an egg.

According to psychology, there are aspects to ourselves we can’t see for ourselves, but that which others can. And vice versa. Of course, everyone knows I make omelettes in the morning. But what baffles me is people keep saying I’m this, or I’m that. But I’m not anything, at the end of the day. Shantha tells me I’m a romantic. That because I listen to romantic love songs from the eighties reclining on the couch all night, I’ve got love “soaking up” all over me. Sanjay, on the other hand, thinks I’m a communist. Well, I’m neither romantic nor communist. I’m Chandru. That’s all there is to me.

Two minutes ago, as I was making toast, someone rang the bell. I love the silence of the mornings, and I hate to be disturbed when I’d rather lay flat on my couch and think about surreal things that have nothing to do with omelettes or the wife who left me for gold. I wonder who it could be, because there’s a huge sticker outside my door that says, “don’t disturb till after three p.m.”. Well, people are a disturbance at any time of the day, anyway, but of course, I love my practice. Or maybe I don’t. I have never been sure of what I want. That’s the kind of man I’ve been all my life, and people have no right to blame me for that.

My calling bell sounds like a cuckoo cooing from its nest. It was Sanjay who got it fixed for me. Trust me, I hate his taste. Everything around the house smacks of Sanjay. Sanjay here, Sanjay there. Sanjay on the dancing dolphin statuette that sits right at the centre of the drawing room, Sanjay on the Persian carpet he paid a fortune for. I did not ask him how much he paid for it. It is none of my business. And he would not want to tell me about it even if I begged him to the moon and back, that’s another thing. And yes, the pendulum that hangs on the wall in my bedroom.

Sanjay visited Mexico last summer, and met this hot intuit, Maxine, who gave him this pendulum. The idiot took a consultation just for me, when he should’ve asked after himself, with his deteriorating health and all. I knew Maxine even before Sanjay visited her. She does these “ammmmaezing” astrology videos on Youtube, (I really need to teach Sanjay how to discriminate between what’s amazing and what’s not amazing), and she talks all the time about full moons and blood moons and how they’re going to light fire in my kitchen when I’m sleeping, and burn the whole house down. She has a rotund face, and big boobs. And lipstick that’s red all over her face. She talks into a microphone, holding her three-month-old baby in one hand, and cooing into its ear every once in a while.

Well, Maxine said, Sanjay says, there’s a dark red ball of negativity I see around your uncle’s head, and it’s not likely to leave for now, so take this pendulum with you, it will keep the negativity at bay, and perhaps he’ll find a nice woman to sleep with as well. Well, I don’t know a thing about Western astrology, but I do know for certain that pendulums have nothing to do with discarding negative energy (or do they?), and absolutely nothing to do with seduction (correct me if I’m wrong, Maxine). I did not express my thoughts to Sanjay though, he’s a highly-sensitive person. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I’d have been happier though, if he’d brought Maxine straight home, instead of the pendulum, and of course, without the baby.  

Yes, Sanjay is everywhere. He takes up my life.

As I was saying, someone rang the bell. It was Neela. My heart goes out to this child every time I see her. People come to me with all kinds of issues, but there are few who straddle life the way she does, walking into my office with a smile every Monday evening, saying, hello, Chandru, like nothing else matters. But what I saw here surprised me. Her eyes were scorching red from crying. She said she wanted to talk to me right-away, that her husband was asking her to get out of the house, and she had nowhere to go.

As much as I like being around Neela, and listening to her problems, this is what annoys me about my profession still, and about Neela. She hasn’t bothered to fix an appointment with me, and here she is, barging into my house in the morning, taking advantage of my kindness and authentic interest in her life. You might wonder if I’m kind at all, given that I have no gratitude for my own nephew who spends a fortune on me to keep me happy, but this is really not about gratitude, but about detachment. I’m kind, but with detachment. I’ve read too much Yogananda all my life to give in to the pull of blood. I should never have introduced Prema to spirituality, it only drove her crazy, and drove her away from me.

Neela is eating my toast now. She’s sniffling, and you would think she’s got the flu if you saw her. Her eyes are half-closed and she’s literally nibbling on the toast like a baby who has just weaned off breast milk and has been fed cereal for the first time. I must admit, I’m annoyed. When she rang the bell, I had just almost made my third omelette, hungry as hell, recovered from the hangover of the seventy-fifth birthday party that Sanjay threw for me, and was trying to hit the toilet again after I’d gobbled down the omelette. And here was Neela, getting her way with me, manoeuvring to advance the session she was supposed to have with me only in the evening.

“Mr. Chandru, where will I go now? Ajit wants me out of the house.”

You know, I’m a psychologist. Not a solution-finder.

“What about your aunt’s, Neela? Why don’t you go there?”

“My aunt’s likely to throw me out, too.” There are tears running all the way down her face now. Her lips are crumpled with the weightless pressure of left-over omelette crumbs.

“You know my aunt,” she says, accusingly.

I’m hungry now. Neela has already eaten my omelette as well, and I have nothing left to make. I’m running out of eggs. A sharp, stingy wave of frustration courses through my nerves. At seventy-five, I need therapy too.

“Neela, one, you don’t have an appointment with me. Two, you are eating my breakfast.”

Neela covers her face with her hands, and starts wailing. And then she starts to yell.

Let it all out, Neela, let it all out.  

“What is the point in therapy if you can’t be there for me exactly when I need it, and how I need it, Mr. Chandru? Why do I have to book an appointment all the time and wait agonisingly for hours just to get all this shit out?”

I count to twenty. The bell rings again. It’s Sanjay. I let him in.

“Uncle, so how’s the new quarter turning out, all fun?”

He walks in with a big smile, his emaciation not hampering his vivacity for life.

He sits on the couch, right next to Neela, not noticing her. Their hands touch.

“Oooooo, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know you were having a guest over,” he apologises profusely.

But Sanjay is puzzled beyond belief. He has never known me to meet anyone so early in the morning. Well, it was ten, but for me, ten was as early as early could get.

For some of us, the sun never rises.

Neela blinks at Sanjay. She’s too caught up in her wallowing she doesn’t care enough to be embarrassed.

“Sanjay, meet Neela. She wants to run away.”


I turned thirty yesterday. Everyone says thirty is a phenomenon in a woman’s life, that it signifies a turning over. Well, the only turning over I can sense now is my dead mother turning over in her grave over the kind of life I’m living today. I don’t do much. I write stories about environmental issues and send them to magazines that care for the environment. For every fifteenth rejection, I get one acceptance. Yes, a writer’s life is hard. But I don’t know if all this adds any significance to my life. I wonder if my stories are going to stop the ice from melting on the Arctic Circle, or if they are going to make the winters in the countries I’ve lived all my life, any better. Well, but that’s not why we write stories, isn’t it? We write stories not because we have nothing else to do, but because writing stories is the only thing we can do. So, why am I still alive if I haven’t found the larger purpose yet? Because I’m married to a man I’m in love with, and it’s only been six months, too early to give up. When Ajit and I got married at the Roman Catholic church, next to Asha’s typesetting institute, he whispered in my ear: honey, one year, great, five years, amazing, ten years, definitely a miracle. A brain zap ran through my ear, because I’m the sort of woman who believes marriages have to last forever, that too with one person.

But now, I do not know what Ajit wants from me, even six months after being married to him. Is it the sex or the omelettes? I thought men change after marriage, but not Ajit. He was, he is, and will be the same.

We met at this group therapy session last June. His smile lit some strange corner of my heart and made me all tipsy. I’ve always been this woman to not have a preconceived idea of what she wants her man to be, someone to take men as they come along, see them for what they are, instead of project the possibilities that her unconscious throws up, on them.

Ajit walked into the room, he was the last client for that day. Madeline smiled with satisfaction as he entered, an extra client always helped her pocket, but yes, she’s an amazing therapist, only she loves money slightly more than she loves her practice. I had never tried psychodrama before, and was here because the women in my life were driving me mad, particularly my aunt who wanted to tell me how to press my clothes and what shoes to wear. Ajit was wearing something nondescript and I hardly have any memory of it, for it is only his face that I so vividly remember. He smiled at Madeline, and slouched into a chair.

“Welcome, may I know your name?” Madeline smiled at him a cherry-dipped lipstick smile.

I’m from Alcoholics Anonymous, he said.

I liked the way he said that, Alcoholics Anonymous. He seemed to be so comfortable with who he was, unlike Milan, the only other man in the group, who introduced himself as a drug addict with a look of self-demeaning evasion splotched on his face. With Ajit, it was, I’m from Alcoholics Anonymous, this is who I am.

But then why was he in therapy? I have been taking therapy all my life, ever since my father died of a car accident when I was seven. I got lucky, because back in 1998, my mother already knew that there was something called therapy out there. If you ask me, I would take therapy all my life.  

But yes, Ajit. Why was he here? What was it about himself that he so wanted to change? Why do people want to change at all? It doesn’t make any sense.  

“Guys, listen up, I want to pair you all up. Pairing is very effective in group therapy. First, Neela and Ajit…” I almost jumped out of my seat like a rabbit that doesn’t know where to run when it’s love-struck.

“Neela, talk to Ajit about what’s bothering you. And Ajit, vice versa.” For a moment, I thought Madeline exchanged a wink with me.

“What do you do?”

“Err, nothing, actually. I write stories.”

“Well, you do something, then. Not nothing.”

“What do you do?”

“I drink. That’s why I’m here. What do you think?”

“So, what’s bothering you, Mr….?”


“Ok, Ajit.”

“I think I’m in love, Miss…”

“Neela. Miss Neela.”

I know you think this exchange is rather cheesy, but these things happen in real life too, trust me. We got married the following week. What happened after that, you probably know, and I’m not going to try and explain the obvious. But what you probably don’t know, is that Ajit started acting weird, real weird. He did not kiss the same way anymore, and he smelt worse than garbage. I thought I would be able to manage the smell of alcohol and cigarettes, but he also smelt of many more things, which I don’t have a name for, and which I cannot get myself to recognise. I’ve been too afraid to ask him, as well. He had frequent nosebleeds, and when I asked him about them, he said it was the heat.

And then, he started hitting me. Two months into the marriage. It came out of nowhere. I believed, or was stupid enough to believe, that despite his rough exterior, there was something soft to him inside, like the elasticity of clay, that made him the sweet person he was. C’mon, believe me. Ajit feeds animals on the road, he beats up children who throw stones at animals. How nice of him! And when he crosses that temple next to home, he always reaches out for a wallet to help feed the beggars who line up there every day. He calls his mother twice a day. Which guy does that today? Well, at least none of my exes did.

As much as I worried deep inside that there was more to him than all this softness and flexibility for life, I didn’t for once think he would actually hit me. Of course, I’m a stupid woman, but don’t point that out to me now. Asha had been telling me all these years that men  get bored of women in a matter of seconds. Call me sexist if you will, but that’s the truth. Till the second month, I was cocksure he wasn’t bored of me at all, till he actually hit me on the mouth. “You smell of coffee,” he said, smiling, chewing gum, and walked out of the house, leaving me with a jaw that was restlessly ready to swell.

Now, many episodes of hitting, and being told to leave, later, I’m sitting at Chandru’s, eating his omelette, waiting for my epiphany. And there’s a hot guy in front of me again. I thought I was the woman who stuck to one guy at a time, but when the only guy you know is hitting you on the face and making your jaw swell, the least you can do is look for an alternative.


I’m Sanjay, the happiest man I know. Or I was. Till I got diagnosed with breast cancer. Rare in a man, they all say. But despite the cancer, I’m a happy man. I’m committed to happiness, believe me. Actually, my cancer is getting better, and I’m grateful. I turned thirty-six yesterday, and my doctor told me I definitely had a chance at life. Uncle Chandru and I share the same birthday. Aunt Prema has been making us vanilla cake all these years on our birthday, with this sweet icing on top whose flavour I don’t care to remember. But now, she’s gone. We don’t know what she found in that God man. But Uncle’s practice was driving her crazy, he was seeing clients all the time, and his clients were making him crazy too. Actually, Uncle has a touch of craziness already latent in him, and it is in his professional sphere that it was all supposed to come out, Maxine said.

He has been making me, or rather, forcing me to write gratitude lists ever since I was seven. Now that I have a two-year-old daughter, he’ll probably add her to his potential client list soon. You know, till I got diagnosed with cancer, that too on my breasts, I’d been an incredibly content person. Oftentimes, people tell me what a tough life they’ve had, how things never went their way. But trust me, things have always gone my way before the doctor gave me a cancer diagnosis with a frown of concern on his face, and I’ve had no reason to complain, really. Of course, when my mother died, my world was not the same anymore, but I’m made of a resilience that few people are made of, and I can put the past behind me like it doesn’t matter, because the past never defined anyone.

I went to Ivy Law School straight from college in India (Uncle says I got lucky, because he’d tried all his life to study psychology in London, and didn’t get anywhere because he couldn’t get hold of that “goddamn” funding), got the degree (well, this is more important than getting in), met my wife, Shantha, the prettiest and sweetest girl I know, a chiropractor, and then we made a baby. Soon after, we got married, and decided to move to India. We’ve been doing awesome here. I like that word, awesome, Americans say it all the time. So yes, you get the drift. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I cried my lungs out. So did Shantha. We’d never come face-to-face with something so drastic before, and the word tragedy had so far been a dormant force in the air we didn’t know existed. But yes, things are a lot better now. Nidhi is growing up fast. And of course, I live just a block away from Chandru Uncle. My practice is going strong too, and yes, repetition aside, I’m grateful.

But in the midst of all these things that fill me with a strong sense of thankfulness, there is something sneaky that really worries me to death every time I think of it. It’s not the kind of worry that takes you over and consumes you, but something that grows on you like the slow, steady pricking of an injection upon the skin. I think Uncle Chandru is depressed. He has been ever since Aunt Prema left the family to join that spiritual cult. I wouldn’t blame her, it was Uncle who introduced her to these things. My mother says that when they were married, Aunt Prema knew nothing about God. She came from a family of atheists, Uncle says. But because she was from a generation of women who believed what their husbands believed, she learnt how to light lamps around the house, and dust the prayer books. She was always very nice to me. She never once failed to hug me tight every time I entered their home, and when Uncle yelled at me for missing my gratitude lists, it was she I cried my heart out to. I loved Uncle, and to disappoint him, was the worst thing I could do.

I miss Aunt Prema. I really do. But now that she’s gone, I’d rather not think of her. It’s a pointless waste of attention to think about someone who has no space for us internally, Uncle said, after she was gone. But I do know that he took a couple of therapy sessions with this woman named Madeline after she left. That was when I decided to go on a holiday, and flew all the way up to Mexico. I met Maxine there, as luck would have it. She had these amazing insights, and it seemed as if she already knew Uncle inside out.

I paid five thousand dollars for that one consultation.

“Your uncle has a bad combination of Rahu and Jupiter, Sanjay,” she said. “Rahu is the planet of disillusionment. He takes away everything.”

“But why did it take away…?”

“He, Rahu, he, not it.”

Well, whatever! “But why did he take away Aunt Prema? They were such a wonderful couple!”

“Well, that’s how the planets work, Sanjay, there’s no doing away with them.” Maxine was dressed in orange, the colour that absorbed spiritual vibrations to the maximum. She was in a robe, with rudraksh beads all over her neck, some extending all the way till her waist. But she looked totally different on the Youtube videos though. I was quite disillusioned at first when I saw her all dressed in orange, and wondered if it was really her.

Well, by then I’d already made the payment.

What fascinated me about Maxine was that unlike all the astrologers I’d seen so far, (yes, I went to one when I was diagnosed with cancer, and she told me it was all karma), Maxine did not follow the natal chart. She was a natural intuit, she just had to close her eyes, and the truths dawned upon her like ants crawling over a piece of neglected flan de mango. Flan de mango. She used that to refer to some odd, deep concept about truth, which I’ve been trying to recollect for a while, but can’t remember.  

“Your aunt was not meant to stay, she’s an air sign, she just had to flit away with the wind.”

Maxine then gave me that pendulum. “Give it to him, he should find another woman soon.”

Uncle was not happy when I gave it to him. He said it was an absolute waste of money, and that charlatan had no business giving him girlfriend suggestions, particularly after his wife had left him after twenty-five years.

However, today, it is utterly beyond my imagination what he’s doing with a twenty-something woman, at ten a.m. in the morning (when he’s usually all by himself), feeding her omelettes.


Neela looks up at Sanjay. He has a sweet face. There is something about his visage that comforts her. There is a strange, soothing aura around him, something that smacks of the kindness of a stranger. She does not want to talk anymore, but only watch Chandru and Sanjay peer quietly into her eyes. She knows Chandru is frustrated, she shouldn’t have walked into him like this, so early in the day. But what choice did she have, she thinks, rubbing the swell on her jaw like a child who’s bruised herself on the playground and can’t find a parent to comfort her. Chandru sits down quietly on his blue armchair, looking defeated. Sanjay smiles at her. For once, Neela doesn’t feel judged. He extends his arm out to her, and they shake hands. “Hello, I’m Sanjay,” he says. There is a look of amusement in his eyes, which Neela cannot fathom. “Neela,” she says, getting up from the couch Chandru reserves exclusively for his clients.

And then, the unimaginable happens.

She plonks down on it, sobbing like someone assaulted by bereavement, head buried in her hands. Sanjay watches her cry. He doesn’t know what to do. He has never been good around crying women. Shantha was not someone to cry all the time, the only time he remembers her crying was in the labour room, when the midwife asked her to push, and this exhausted person in her did not want to push, and had almost given up. Of course, she did cry when they got that cancer diagnosis. But even then, Shantha wasn’t as bad as this woman in front of him now.

What has Uncle done to her, he thinks. “Uncle? Your girlfriend?”

“Don’t be an idiot, San, she’s my client.”

A wave of clarity dawns on Sanjay. So this is it. Uncle isn’t dating this woman. The pendulum hasn’t worked, fuck Maxine.

“Neela,” Chandru calls out to her, as gently as possible, and yet, with a firmness in his voice. Neela recoils and lays down flat on the couch.

“I want Ajit out,” she says.

“Neela, it’s okay, we can figure this out. But first, I need you to get up and sit down straight. Can you do that, please?”

“I WANT AJIT OUT.” Before anyone can say anything, Neela grabs the plate she ate the omelette on, and flings it over the door. Next, she reaches for Chandru’s eyeglasses. Sanjay jumps forward, catches her by the hand, stop, he says.

“Sanjay, get out of here. I can handle this,” says Chandru. Hunger gnaws at his stomach, which erupts in a rumble.

“Uncle, are you sure, she’s pretty upset!”

“Can’t you understand? Just get out!”

Sanjay walks out of the house, defeated. Pendulums don’t work, after all. But for a quiet moment in his brain, he hopes something will happen. Hope was all they had.

“Chandru, do you have beer in the fridge?”


I met you that day, in the morning. I knew you did not like being met in the mornings. But what could I have done? My jaw was swelling, and caking up with blood. You looked at me, surprised. You did not see the person you always saw, the person who was professional with her pain no matter how enormous, who was diligent about the work you do, as much as you were. But that day, you saw someone else, someone you could not recognize, someone who had the audacity to ask you straight in the face for a bottle of beer. How was I to know that you do not drink? You always tell me the truth is in the air, that we don’t know all of it. Then how would I have possibly known that you would take so much offence at my barging into your space that morning, at my breaking down before you at a time when you were not prepared for breakdowns and psychological drama? You had always been nice in the sessions, and somewhere in that quiet space of confession, of understanding, you led me to believe that you were available to me at all times, that you were ready to listen to me whenever I would want you to listen to me. But yes, this is a professional relationship, professional even though I have spoken to you enough about my life, my dreams, my shortcomings, my aversions. How would I have known, that you wouldn’t be the same in the mornings as you were in the evenings, when you made it seem like your world revolved around my stories, that the pain I shared with you was more important than the errant ringing of the calling bell, or the beeping on your phone? Well, you were offended. The least I can say is sorry. Was it my unannounced entry that offended you more, or my asking you for beer, I cannot tell. But yes, you were upset. And yet, you made space for me. I cannot thank you enough for that.

You sat me down, gave me a notebook, told me to write a story. I give you fifteen minutes, you said, write down all you can think of. Free-writing, you said. Free-writing, with this jaw, Chandru, really? I asked. You smiled for the first time that day. And your breath smelt of eggs.

But aren’t stories supposed to unravel at their own pace, aren’t they supposed to have a life of their own, an individuality that cannot be rushed, a beauty that cannot be allowed to disintegrate? I look in to that sheet of paper on the notebook, pale yellow in colour, with lines running over it, almost invisible to the grasp of my vision. I’ve never enjoyed writing on notebooks with lines on them, all my notebooks have blank pages, blankness is where the best stories come from, blankness is where your characters emerge, ready to jump off that cliff of creation.

You want me to write a story.

I’m Neela. I was born in 1986 to a mother who believed that God was the centre of everything. I was born because God willed it. I was a girl because God willed it. And I grew up, an absolute failure at love, because it was part of God’s plan. My mother read the Bible more than once every day, she read them in between the interstices of her day, as Umberto Eco would call them. I remember the day I was really sick in kindergarten. My mother checked for my temperature, and put me to sleep as my heavy breathing shocked and unsettled her. She waited for an hour before I feel asleep.

I took out my Bible, Neelu, and I started to read. You were fast asleep, she said.

And then I woke up again, asking for a glass of Horlicks. My mother’s face was buried in the Bible, and she seemed to be crying for something, something that God could possibly give her. But how could God return the husband who had left her? How could God bring back someone who couldn’t come back? Was she praying that I get well in a matter of seconds? But how could God heal a fever in a second? Didn’t God take time, didn’t he let things take their own divine course?

She gave me the Horlicks. She began to read again.

Of course, I have now come to realize that we all have to take strength in what comforts us the most, whether it is God or no God. My mother died last year, and you know that. I do not want to write about what happened between that kindergarten moment and what happened as she died. So many things have happened. All God’s doing, my mother would probably say. My father died when I was in second grade. He was with the woman he loved, and he died in a car accident. There were glass splinters lodged in every ounce of his body, till his body was less body and more glass, till life let him, stationary and transparent like glass itself.

It’s all God’s plan, Neelu, my mother said, hugging me tight, not letting me go. I loved her so much when she said that. God’s plan. That day, I came to believe that everything was God’s plan. Till Ajit started smacking me on the face, and caught me unawares. Till the man I believed was meant for me, till the man I thought loved me more than any other man I had ever known, broke my trust in the tick of a second. God’s plan, I bet.

This is my story, and I don’t care if you like it or not. My story is mine, and I choose what I do with it.


You wrote something on that notebook. I wasn’t happy when you intruded upon my privacy that morning. I’d been a depressed man lately, especially in the mornings, because that is when I start to think of Prema, and why she left me. Could I have been a better husband, could I have done something more? Could I have done something less? What was it about the structure of our lives that she took disdain to, that she felt her vibrational energy could not match? That day, I was making omelettes. I had just turned seventy-five. You looked sad when I did not treat you with the same concern that I usually hold for you when you walk into my office in the evenings. But you know, when a man turns seventy-five, and his wife has left him, he cannot but be in a crappy mood in the mornings. I could’ve explained all this to you, but I doubt if you would have understood. But yes, you seemed to be in a space of deep pain. And when I saw your jaw, my heart melted, but a little. It was still a trespass, your walking in like that. But when Sanjay left the room, it was just the two of us, and something told me you wanted to be listened to. What kind of therapist was I if I didn’t take time out (even at an hour that was not meant for therapy) to soothe a client with a swollen jaw?

And so I made you write that story. You wrote so much about your mother. Even with that jaw you had so much stamina. For a moment, I wondered if it was the right thing to do, to make you free-write when your jaw was hurting, and the emotional bleeding was too much for you to handle. Even then, I was amazed at your ability to go on and on writing, without a stop. You wrote for almost an hour. And then I asked you to read it out. “I was born to a mother who believed in God. And she is no more. ” That was it. That was the line. That was the line which made you recoil back on the couch, tears rolling.

The wife who left me believed in God, too, Neela, I said. But it was all my fault.

She is no more, either.

But what can we do, uncle? It is all God’s plan. Sanjay said that to me too, when he was diagnosed. Maybe it is all God’s plan, I don’t know, Neela. Your mother is perhaps right.

Why does God make plans, in the first place?

God makes plans because he has nothing else to do, Neela.

And that was the epiphany they were both seeking.


Photo by Ash from Modern Afflatus on Unsplash

CategoriesShort Fiction
Pooja Rathnakumar Sengottuvel

Pooja Rathnakumar Sengottuvel is an ESL professional who teaches English abroad. She enjoys writing short stories about people who interest her and, as a result, become characters in her work. She is a huge fan of Indian writing in English, spiritual writing, and American short fiction. When she's not writing, she keeps herself busy taking strolls and thinking about deep life questions, regardless of whether the answers present themselves.