The death of butterflies

Butterfly – noun

Plural noun: butterflies

1. A nectar-feeding insect with two pairs of large, typically brightly coloured wings that are covered with microscopic scales. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by having clubbed or dilated antennae, holding their wings erect when at rest, and being active by day. Having a two-lobed shape resembling the spread wings of a butterfly.

Modifier noun: butterfly

A showy or frivolous person.

“a social butterfly”

2. A fluttering and nauseous sensation felt in the stomach when one is nervous.

3. A stroke in swimming in which both arms are raised out of the water and lifted forwards together.

Tell me now,

when you saw him for the first time,

did you feel what is written

in point 2 above?

Did the butterflies in your belly

do a little dance

when you touched for the first time

or when you kissed for the first time?

You see, the butterflies always flutter in your belly

only during the firsts of all times.

They reduce slowly;

They die.

And somehow, you kill your love

with their death.

No butterflies;

No love.

Isn’t it simple?

But then,

read point 2 again, and again,

and again.

Read how the word ‘nervous’ is used.

Notice the absence of ‘love’.

Realise that we aren’t nervous

around the ones we love.

Realise why the butterflies die

and why the death of butterflies

means the birth of love.

And, love.

Isn’t it simpler?

Love the moments, the person, the feel;

Travel with them, scream and squeal.

Love the imperfections, the future, the past;

Love the present for as long as it lasts.

Love the way the butterflies die,

and keep loving till the last one of them bids goodbye;

Who knew, love could live with the death of butterflies?

Two knocks

This afternoon, I was reading a book when I heard two knocks on my window.
Two knocks, just like old times.

Two knocks, just like that of a friend of mine.

Two knocks, just to assure me that everything is going to be fine.

I rushed to the window and I opened it. An old friend was waiting there; waiting to hug me.

And I stood there, feeling the winds on my face, hearing the sweet whispers of what I had missed.

I stood there, waiting for the thunder to roar, feeling my calm in the storm.

I stood there, watching the lightening rip the sky apart, watching beauty form from a silver, jagged line.

I stood there, feeling the raindrops cleanse me, making me realise what I still love the most.

I stood there, meeting my oldest, best friend.

Two knocks was all it took and the rains had found me again.

Father’s Day

The doorbell rings. I wince as I stand up from my armchair. My knees have been troubling me since long.

“Coming,” I say when the doorbell rings a second time.

I reach out to grab my walking stick and I walk to the door.

It’s the postman. He hands me a courier, gets my signature and leaves.

I make my way back to the living room as I inspect the immaculately wrapped thing in my hand. It is a rectangular thing wrapped in brown paper.

I read the sender’s address and I smile.

I sit on my armchair and tear the wrapper carefully.

“Is it my birthday? Or maybe some festival which I might have missed?” I wonder as I lay the wrapper aside neatly, treating it like it is something way more precious than just brown paper.

There is a card, and a letter and a box.

I open the letter first.

It reads, “I know you might not have even the slightest idea why you are receiving this and I don’t blame you for forgetting this occassion every year. But this is the day when I get to thank you for all that you have done for me. So, Happy Father’s Day!

You held my finger and taught me to walk. You burnt your fingers while trying to cook, but you never let me sleep with an empty stomach.   You saved up and bought me the pencil box that I had long coveted for. You knew that I used to lose my pencils at school, but you never lost your patience with me.

I was slow in my studies. I hated every subject. You made those interesting and you made me excel in academics. You dealt with the children who were bullying me. You finally learnt to tie my long hair up in neat braids after failing numerous times at it.

You scared the boy off who used to follow me back from college. You saved your earnings up for my education. You never let my wishes go unhindered. You made sure that I got the best of everything.

And you knew it when I was in love with a guy. You knew he was from a different caste, yet you stood beside me against our relatives who were vehemently opposing my desire to marry him. You arranged my marriage which such pomp and show that left everyone spellbound.

You ensured that I lived well. You ensured that I was well educated. You ensured my well being. You ensured that I had a family and that I was happy.

You sacrificed your happiness for mine. You found a family for me, but you never bothered to make one for yourself.

After the death of our parents, you brought me up single-handedly from the time I was a baby. You were only ten. And honestly, I don’t remember our parents at all. When I think of a parent, only one face comes to my mind and that is you.

Thank you for everything.

And here is a box of your favourite fruit cake. I made it myself. Your sister has finally learnt how to bake at the ripe old age of fifty, and you better tell me that the cake was good. I could use some encouragement and I could use a big smile on your face.

Happy Father’s Day again, Bhaiya!

With love,

Your Chhoti.”

I grin at her words and at her childish handwriting and I make a mental note to gift my fifty-year-old sister a Cursive Writing Book on her upcoming birthday.

I nibble a piece of the cake and pull my phone towards me to call her and tell her how good it is, while the card with the image of a father and a daughter sits proudly on my lap.

Birthday Gift

I look at the calender hanging on the wall of my house. I realise that there are just two more days to go. Two more days until it is my daughter’s fifth birthday.

She has been asking for a teddy bear since long. But we can barely afford two meals a day. My wife tried getting a teddy bear from the garbage dump and patching the torn parts up, but I felt guilty in gifting that to my daughter.

Upon her birth, I had promised the infant that I had held in my arms that I would never let her face the hardships that I have faced. I would ensure that she gets the best of everything. So, even if we can barely afford two meals a day, we always ensure that she eats her fill first.

But this time, I am helpless and jobless. I walk out of my house for a job, again.

I go to various places; I go to garages, to shops, to malls, to hotels and I find no job. Disappointed, I sit on a park bench, watching the sunset and watching my hopes die.

Then, a sign catches my eye.

‘Job as an Entertainer available. Please contact the Main Office,’ it reads.

I rush to the Main Office and answer a few questions. I am given a rough idea of my monthly income and I finally have a job in a matter of an hour.

I go back home and tell my wife about my job. I tell her that I can finally gift my daughter a teddy bear. I tell her that I have her birthday planned.

* Two days later *

It’s way too hot in my uniform. I don’t understand if it’s because of the sweltering summer heat or if it’s going to be like this always.

I feel sweat forming on my face, on my arms, on my entire body.

But I can’t help it. I have a job to do, after all.

A while later, I see my daughter and my wife walking into the park. My daughter points at me. She runs and hugs me. I hold her hands in mine and I lift her up. She giggles.

And so do the numerous children surrounding me.

The teddy bear costume that I am in has worked its magic. The job to dress up as a cartoon character for the children in the park sure was a boon in disguise.

My daughter got her birthday gift that she had wished for; she got a huge, Dad-sized teddy bear.

And I felt happy and satisfied, two feelings which were more powerful than the heat and the weariness that I was feeling inside the costume.


He created a structure

with love,

with care,

with a heart

and with a lot of bricks.

Beautiful, it turned out to be;

So beautiful

that He was in awe

of His own creation.

The structure was a concoction

of affection,

of grace,

of strength,

and of rage.

One day,

a few people chanced upon it;

They ogled,

they grinned,

they craved,

and the drooled.

But they knew well enough

that they couldn’t have it.

So, they tore it apart

brick by brick;

They had their share of fun

and they left it to bleed.

More people chanced upon it,

but they acted like mere spectators

of some tragic play.

They found the structure



devoid of beauty,

and they decided that

it was devoid of honour

and devoid of grace.

The structure died

a slow, painful death;

After all, it was at fault

because He had created it that way.

After its death,

the heart that it had

beat no more,

the love that it had

was no more;

The only remnants

were the bricks.

More people chanced upon it

and they wept at the tragedy;

they laid flowers near it,

and they lighted candles;

And they decided

that the structure would be worshipped

just because it had such a tragic death.

They found the men

who had caused it harm;

they punished them

without meaning any harm.

They found a name

for the structure

which was now represented

only by the bricks.

They called it a Woman

and they worshipped her after her rape;

they hurt her first

and then they hid her identity

after her death.

The best sleep

I found a chocolate on the table. ‘Bournville’ it read. The price was Rs. 99. I don’t remember touching a chocolate worth 99 bucks before in my life.

I look around for the owner. I ask a few people passing by the table I was standing at, and it belonged to none.

I couldn’t just go and ask every single person in the bustling office cafeteria if they were the owner of the chocolate. After all, I had my job to get back to. My boss would be furious if he saw me avoiding work for the sake of returning a chocolate to its owner.

I put the chocolate in my pocket and I continue with my job.

At 11pm, I reach home. My home is in a slum on the outskirts of the city. I enter my home, and my three-year-old daughter comes running up to me.

She always stays up to see me come back home. I fish the chocolate out of my pocket and hand it over to her.

That’s probably the biggest chocolate she has ever seen in the three years of her life. She rips the wrapper off like it is some delicate thing which could break if she tore it off the wrong way.

She looks at the chocolate and slowly takes a bite. Then, she smiles at the chocolate, and I find myself smiling at her.

An hour later, I have my dinner and I walk up to see if my daughter is asleep. I find her sleeping with the chocolate wrapper tucked safely under her head, a smile playing on her lips; the smile akin to that of a person who has found something precious to hold on to.

The very sight of the peace on her face makes me forget all about my hectic day.

It makes me forget all about how I clean the tables in the cafeteria all day long.

It makes me forget how I look at the leftovers of good food, and wonder if I can ever procure such food for my family.

It makes me forget my doubts about if I can ever keep my family happy.

It makes me feel peaceful. The burden on my heart and on my shoulder gets lighter.

And I sleep the sleep of any other man who is tired after work, irrespective of what work he does.

I sleep the sleep of a man who sleeps the best after ensuring the happiness of his family.

I sleep with a smile akin to that on my daughter’s face.

The first time

“Good morning, Sir!” I say with a smile.

“Good morning, Madam!” I say with another smile.

Between all the trained words that my lips utter and all the smiles that my face wears, a few thoughts remind me of their presence in my mind.

I think about my family which is a mess. My father is on his deathbed. My mother sits by his bed and wipes her tears with the torn end of her sari. My brother has completed his schooling and we will be needing money for his higher education.

I think about how I can support my family. I have already been working overtime. I will have to look for more job opportunities.

I think about the dreams I had about my future. I still have them, and I intend to fulfil them. I want to earn well and to live well.

The door opens, breaking my thought process.

A few persons enter.

I bow, smile and say, “Good morning, Sir!”

Five people pass me by and I get no response from them; not even a nod. I don’t expect anything, either.

For the Sirs and Madams entering through the office gate, I am just an office guard.

I guess they consider me inanimate. I get paid to bow. I get paid to smile. I get paid to wish. It doesn’t matter if my back hurts after all the bowing or if my cheeks hurt after all the smiling.

The last one to pass me by is a young woman, probably in her mid-twenties.

I do what I am trained to do.

I bow, smile and say, “Good morning, Madam!”

I straighten up, turning to go to my desk. But a chirpy voice makes me question reality.

“Good morning, Bhaiya!” the girl says with a smile.

I look at her with the smile that a poor kid has when someone offers him a balloon.

She smiles and enters the office, and I return to my desk.

It takes me some time to process that my presence was acknowledged and my wish was reciprocated.

For the first time, I feel animate.

For the first time, I feel more like a human being and less like an office guard.

For the first time, I wear a smile on my face all day long, without even wanting to get paid for it.