Monday, October 5, 2015


The weather suddenly turned foul, the thunder thundered vigorously, the lightning flooded the sky and the rain poured down in buckets.  I needed a refuge and I needed it fast.  I saw the light on in this house and I sought admittance but no one answered.  Fortunately, there was an entry point and so I took advantage, hoping no one would grudge shelter to a bedraggled stranger.
No one was home! That was surprising. I checked out the place, made myself comfortable and heaved a sigh of relief. There was food on the kitchen counter top too.  What a welcome! But it did not last too long.

After a couple of hours, I heard a key turn in the lock and light footsteps enter. It was a woman carrying a shopping bag and she sang as she entered.  Happy company, I thought and sat up to say hello. She took one look and yelled, ‘Get out of my house you varmint!’ and she set to with a will, banging about and screaming till I cowered in fear. I managed to find a roomy cupboard and concealed myself there but apparently she had seen me enter.  The next thing I knew was that I had been locked in and there I remained for the night and the best part of the next day.  You can imagine my plight. When would I see daylight again? 

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I heard was the voices.  A man and that woman talking.  The woman was explaining in shrill staccato and the man seemed to be in vociferous agreement.  Then, the cupboard door swung open and my place of concealment was flooded with light.  The man had a thick stick in his hand and looked dangerous.  Was my life in jeopardy? It was ‘do or die’.  I leapt past the man; the element of surprise was on my side.  He chased me around the room but I was quicker and, seeing an open window, I jumped out as fast as I could without a thought to the consequences.  Oh, the joy of being free and out in the open again.  

Whatever happened to ‘shelter the homeless’ and ‘feed the hungry’? Is charity so very dead?

Take my word for it, it’s certainly no fun being a rat (especially if you land up in Wendy’s home)!!


I am haunted by a name – Janhavi Gadkar. When the story broke, like the average Mumbai voyeur, I followed it avidly not because of the condemnation heaped upon Janhavi’s head but because it raised one burning question,‘Why?’

All I know of her is what the media told me.  Accurate? I know from experience not to trust everything I read, but the basics were corroborated across the board and one can draw inferences that are pretty close to reality.  Here was an attractive young woman, from a fairly conservative but educated Maharashtrian background, better off than just merely well to do, evidently smart because she qualified for a top post with Reliance, well read and well travelled.

She was obviously on the up and up, ‘in’ with her colleagues – on the social front, at least – and one who inspired affection (Her ex-husband came forward for her and that must make her special. The ‘ex’ usually moves on and never looks back!). Her happiness spills over in her photos and she seemed to be in love with life.  When everything is going your way, why would you throw it all away?

I do not ask why she was driving while inebriated.  I ask why she was inebriated in the first place.  Why did she put so much store in the pub culture, in social drinking where she matched her male colleagues in their ability to imbibe what was clearly ‘over the limit’?  Why would anyone want to lose self-control or choose to be deliberately vulnerable to external influences? That, too, after more than one bad experience? When did she start and why?

For some time, Janhavi was erased from the news thanks to the ‘Sheena Bora’ case, but today her name popped up again and the questions came flooding back. Yes, she took a life. But she is not a murderer.  And, unless she is extremely thick skinned, she will have to live with the horror for the rest of her life. She will have to start over, if ever she is given the chance and so will her family. In a sense, even if she gets off with a light sentence, she will, in reality, serve a life term.

Why would someone for whom life was opening up in amazing ways do something so stupid?