Published on Kindle…..


I am very happy to share with you all that my book of short stories for children, titled THE TIN CAT AND OTHER STORIES FOR CHILDREN, is now available on Kindle Publishing around the world.

There are 12 short stories, each of which deal with the various situations and emotions that children encounter in their everyday lives.

Would love to hear from you, after you have read the book!

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The Happy Kite – A short story


The summer holidays had arrived. The small village of Tapanam was bustling with activity. From sun rise to sun down, little boys and girls ran around the village, played on make-shift swings made of car-tyres, played hopscotch, threw stones to fell ripe mangoes from the orchard nearby, and ran for their lives when the watchman chased them.

Games were quickly played and dropped, out of boredom. New ideas surfaced, quarrels broke out, food was consumed in huge quantities; and parents and grandparents watched, bemused.

On one such day, a little boy named Kavin came back from his grandparents’ home with a marvellous kite. The kite was a beauty, with stripes of yellow and magenta, and a nice fluttering tail of green.

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            Courtesy – kitesfestival.com

Kavin came roaring down the street with his kite, and all the children ran behind him in glee. Another blissful afternoon flew by, and another, and yet another.

Later that week, the kite flew in abandon towards a blue sky, flirting with the birds, skimming over trees and laughing at the children below.  The children screamed and ran about in happiness.

That afternoon, however, there was a hush in the village. Even the crows seemed to have stopped their raucous gossiping.

The reason was soon apparent. Kavin’s kite had got entangled in the branches of a big mango tree.

Many sad faces moped about. Most of the fathers were at work, moms were too busy on the fields to help. 

Late in the afternoon, the distinct ‘tak tak’ sound of Grandpa Scarybeard’s walking stick could be heard. This was worse than the kite being up on the tree.

The Grandpa was terrifying and had never been known to speak to any living soul. Tales about the Grandpa had become popular bedtime stories, and his name was used to scare little boys and little girls into obeying and going to bed on time.

As the ‘tak tak’ sound grew louder, 15 odd kids hid behind the tree and behind steps and doors.

With his sharp eyes, Grandpa Scarybeard had already seen the little monsters trying to rescue their kite. If one observed him closely, one could see his eyes twinkling. 

And as the children watched, Grandpa came to a stop under the very tree that hosted their kite.

Grandpa Scarybeard took out his walking stick and prodded the branches gently and untangled their kite, very slowly. He placed the kite under the tree and went on his way.

There was an initial hush, followed by joyous whoops and puzzled looks directed towards the Grandpa’s back.

Happiness was in the air. Leaping children, enjoying their summer break, a lonely Grandpa who found loyal friends, and a happy kite that soared higher and higher.

The Imperceptible Nod – A short story


Aryan sensed that it would be one of ‘those’ weekends. He had gone home that weekend to unwind and catch up on some well deserved rest. He avoided prolonged conversations with his mom, because all she wanted to do these days was to get him to meet her friends’ daughters.

Adding to this aggravation was his happily married sister, who came up with lists of girls, who would be the perfect match for him.

Truth be told, he knew he would eventually marry, but right now, the thought of marriage scared him, and with his workload he hardly found any time to date.

A young man is no match for two determined women, and so he listened to both of them raving about this beautiful, young lady named Rhea, who worked in the same city as he did. Rhea was a teacher in a renowned private school, whose sister had gone to school with his.

He nodded without really paying attention. His mind took in a few words here and there, but he was more worried about whether he would reach home in time to watch the final of the soccer match on TV.

Finally, they spared him, and after quick hugs, and reminders to call Rhea, he drove back.

Once back at work, the weekend, and sleep, seemed like faraway destinations. He was into IT sales and  was busy chasing his number targets, meeting prospective customers and trying to close deals.

A couple of weeks later, he had a meeting with a new prospect – a private school. While he waited in the school’s lobby, he suddenly remembered that this was the school where Rhea worked.   He looked at the school through a different lens now.

There were two smart ladies manning the reception desk. He walked up to one of them and asked, “Hmm, Is there a teacher named Rhea, who works here?”

“Yes, sir. Would you like to meet her?” asked the receptionist.

“Oh, no, actually. I just know her through somebody”, he said.

And desperate to change the topic, he said, “Could I have the school brochure please?”

The receptionist replied, “Sure. Are you looking at admission for your children?”

He nodded vaguely, imperceptibly – a nod that could have meant a yes or a no! The receptionist walked over to a shelf and picked out some literature about the school. He thanked her and went back to his seat.

Suddenly, he heard the receptionist calling out to him, “Mr.Kumar, that’s Ms.Rhea. The one there in the grey dress.”

And as he turned to look at Rhea, he heard the receptionist calling out to her,  “Rhea, there’s a gentleman who wants to talk to you about school admissions for his children.”

He looked shocked as Rhea made her way across the lobby. She was beautiful.

“Mr.Kumar, I am Rhea. I teach primary classes here and am also the admissions coordinator for junior school. I understand you are looking at admitting your children here. What can I help you with?”

Aryan said, “Good to meet you. No, I mean…no children, I mean, (he realized he was blabbering). “Sorry, I am actually here for another meeting – with your IT department, so if you could give me your card, we can catch up at a later date?”

They exchanged business cards.

“Sure, no worries”, she said and walked away with a wave.

He had blown it and how! That irritating receptionist…grrrr. He would gladly throttle her.

Then again, the problem was non-existent. He would just not call Rhea again, and it would end right there. So what if she thought he had children.

He went on with his days, the incident completely forgotten.

A few days later, his sister called him to say that she was in town and asked him if they could meet up for lunch and if she could bring a friend?

He booked a table at an Italian restaurant. At 12.30 pm he was seated at the table, busy checking his email. He heard his sister before he saw her.

He looked up with a smile, and stood up to give her a hug. He froze when he saw that his sister’s friend was Rhea. His sister made the introductions and winked at him.

The colour drained from his face. Rhea smiled and looked at him as if his face was familiar. He could see that she was trying to recollect him from somewhere. She wrinkled her nose in concentration throughout lunch.

He wondered what his sister had told her about him. His sister looked at him strangely and was trying to make up for his lack of interest in the conversation.

Finally, and thankfully, the nightmare ended. His sister looked rather grim and said to him, “I will call you.”

From Rhea’s face, he knew that she had not placed him yet.  Thank God for small mercies.

The two ladies walked away and he breathed a sigh of relief.  It was over. He only had to give his sister some story about his strange behaviour during lunch. That would be a breeze.

He went home early and settled down before the TV with a drink. He was channel surfing, when he heard a ping on his phone.

It was an email about admission procedures at the private school where Rhea worked. It was signed simply as Rhea, Admissions Coordinator.

He cringed that she had placed him, and had let him know it this way.

Well…you can’t win them all, he thought to himself.

The Little Girl & A Rainy Day


The Little Girl watched the world outside through the window. And as she watched, the first big drops of rain fell. She plastered her nose to the window, and with her finger, traced each drop as it ran down.

Dare she go out? She quietly opened the door and stepped into the garden. The rain lashed away. Something broke loose in her heart and for the first time in a year and a half the Little Girl cried for her dead mother. She cried and cried, her body racked by sobs that shook her to her very core.

She wanted her mom and not the stepmom her Dad had married a few days ago.

The rain stopped. The Little Girl was spent, the heavy rain washing away the knot of grief that had lodged in her.

She looked like a bedraggled doll, hair plastered, teeth chattering.  A new emotion, fear, clawed at her heart. What would her stepmom say, would she yell? Would she be annoyed? Rainy days with her mother had been filled with hot chocolate, cuddles, giggles, her favourite samosas and ketchup.

This rainy day was dark, grey and unsettling. She ventured into the house without a sound.

Suddenly, she was enveloped in a fluffy warm pink towel, rubbed down vigorously, and given dry clothes to wear. When she went down after changing, she smelt hot chocolate & something being fried in the kitchen.

Her stepmom’s twinkling eyes beckoned to her to eat. She took  the plate of samosas and settled down in front of the TV.

Small wisps of love entered and fluttered in the Little Girl’s heart.

Weaving a tale – A short story


The rain beat down mercilessly; it had been pouring the whole week. Flashes of lightning captured snapshots of a group of people standing in the pouring rain, with the Banyan tree under which they stood offering only some semblance of cover.

But even louder than the noise of the falling rain was the loud pounding in Devan’s head, as he was berated and belittled by his community.

Devan stood with a bent head, as he heard things that seared through his heart.

Devan, and all the people who stood there that night, belonged to one of the oldest weaving communities in the country. Their history dated back to hundreds of years; they had been weavers for kings, queens, princes and princesses, and now in 1975, they wove for society’s elite. Their weaving techniques were a closely guarded secret, passed on from generation to generation.  They married only within the community, to protect their craft.

Devan’s daughter, Chella, had done the unthinkable. She had chosen her husband from outside the community; an act that the community considered treacherous; and one that could threaten the very fabric of their existence.

Chella had been forced to leave the village, and had been banned from ever entering it.

Devan’s wife had died when Chella was 9 years old. From then on, Devan had been both mother and father to the girl.

The people threatened to ostracize Devan if he attempted to revive ties with his daughter.

A broken father stood, facing his fellow-men, as his heart broke into a hundred pieces, as he thought about his daughter. He had not been given any time to talk to Chella, or tell her anything. The news had spread like wild fire in the small village and even the pouring rain couldn’t put out the fire.

It was a long night.

The sun rose the next day, and slowly life limped back to normal. Devan missed his daughter and ached to talk to her. The village has only one phone and that was in the Headman’s house. He resigned himself to his fate.

In their community, there was a practice that each time a girl got married, her father would weave the bridal saree, with motifs of all the things that the girl liked.

As Devan went about his chores, an idea took shape in his head. After his usual quota of weaving everyday, he started weaving a bridal saree for his daughter – every warp, every weft, woven with love and the agony of separation.

In a few weeks his gift was ready. On his next day off, he met a very old friend of his from a neighbouring village and sought his help in passing on the gift to his daughter. The friend swore his secrecy and took the saree with him.

Devan hoped and prayed that his daughter would be happy to receive the gift.

The friend made it to the small town and located Chella’s house. New bride though she was, the girl looked unhappy and sad. She perked up when she saw her Dad’s friend.

She cried for her father and his plight. She was happy that he was not mad at her and thrilled with the saree.

After her Dad’s friend left, she opened the saree and cried, as she saw each motif that her father had woven into it – from sunflowers to butterflies, lollipops and colourful ribbons, bits of her life leaped out at her. As she studied it, her trained weaver’s eye saw that there was a written message woven into the saree.

It read, “Chella, my dear. I love you and bless you with every happiness in your life. Have a good life. I bear no anger towards you. Believe in your dreams. You have made the right choice. I love you. Blessings – Papa.”

The burden of having chosen an untrodden path slowly fell away from Chella’s shoulders.

She smiled – a wide, beautiful and confident smile.

Contemplation – A short story


Veronica woke up with a mild headache. Her head felt heavy, and she  wanted to hop right back into bed. Sadly, that was not an option.

She worked at a primary school, and taught Grades 1 and 2. The headache only got worse as the day progressed. She popped a couple of tablets before she entered the Grade 2 class.

Twenty, bright-eyed six and seven year olds looked at her, some smiling, some lost and some grinning.

Today’s lesson was on the basic food groups and healthy diets. As she settled the class down, and gave out the worksheets, she heard a sudden snort of laughter. When she looked in the direction that the sound came from, many innocent faces met her eye.

In a few minutes, stifled laughter that could not be contained anymore, erupted. The laughter came from a little imp named Aarav, whose eyes crinkled in mirth. He held his stomach, as his body shook with this sudden laughing bout.

The headache was shaking Veronica’s insides, and with barely concealed irritation she asked Aarav to explain what he found funny.

The little boy pointed to a cartoon on the worksheet, which showed an elephant seated in a restaurant, with a plate before him that contained just one apple slice. A bubble next to the elephant read, “You call this a healthy diet?”

“So what’s so funny in this cartoon?” asked Veronica.

The laughter continued unabated. A few other shoulders shook silently.

Veronica said, “Aarav, I want you to go to the ‘Thinking Corner’ and contemplate your actions.

So Aarav went to the said Corner, and sat in the chair that faced away from the class.

Veronica’s headache got a little better.  The class went on. Veronica watched Aarav. She saw his shoulders shaking from time to time.  After a while, he seemed to have settled down.

She called out to him, “Aarav, you can come back to your seat. Have you thought about what you did?”

Aarav replied, “I did Ms.Rodrigues, but I still find it very funny.”

And the laughter started all over again. The laughter was contagious. Soon the whole class was laughing.

Veronica smiled and joined in. It was just one of those days!

The Blind Date – a short story


Mili was seething. Her friends had been setting her up on blind dates on and off. All of them were happily settled – or so they thought! They wanted Mili to settle down. And being a perfectionist, with a clear list of likes and dislikes, none of the men she met passed muster.

“Thanks, but no thanks!” she thought.

The reason for her anger was that her friend, Naomi, had asked her to dinner, as her husband’s (Naomi’s) business partner and friend, Vihaan, was visiting.

But at the last minute Naomi and her husband had asked her to meet Vihaan alone, as their son had to be rushed to hospital due to a severe wheezing condition. They told her that they had tried to reach Vihaan, but that his phone was unreachable.

She understood the situation, but was still mad. She would have preferred to stay back at home to catch up on some work or just watch some TV. Now this!

So, at 7.30 p.m. sharp, she was at the restaurant and was surprised to see that Vihaan was already seated at the table.

They introduced themselves and she passed on the message from Naomi. He looked slightly put off.

They ordered starters and something to drink. They discussed the weather, the latest movies, and their tastes in music. Soon, they discovered that they hailed from the same town and had studied in the same primary school.

They warmed to each other because of this shared history. They laughed more easily now. They even teased each other a little bit.

He loved the way she articulated her thoughts, with a wry sense of humour. She loved the fact that he was well-read and widely travelled.

After dinner, when they started dessert Vihaan stepped out for a call. And when he came back and hitched up his trousers to sit down, she saw that his socks were mismatched. There was a dark brown and a black.

All the positive vibes flew away. This was in her DISLIKES list…men who couldn’t take the time to pay attention to detail. She was ready to leave. It irritated her too much.

He had seen the shocked look on her face as he had sat down. When she looked away, he looked down at his socks.

“Damn that power cut”, he thought. It had happened just when he was leaving the hotel, and he had hoped that he had the right pair. Obviously not. He could sense her coolness.

“One of those obsessive types”, he thought.

They ate their dessert, in silence. He then asked for the cheque.

She said, “I would also like to share the bill. I insist.”

He tried to talk her out of it, but she seemed to be one of those stubborn types.

He paid the bill with his credit card and showed it to Mili.

She looked at it and said, “Just a minute.”

She took her handbag, which was hanging on the back of her chair. She opened it and furrowed her brows. She clucked in exasperation as she realized that her wallet was not in her bag. She had changed bags that evening, to complement her outfit.

She blushed a beetroot red as she told him that she could not find her wallet. It was mortifying.

She told him that she would transfer the cash to him. He told her that it was his treat to her.

As he walked her to her car, he said, “Next time you can treat me, and I will wear matching socks and hope that there’s no power cut.”

The shocked look on her face was priceless. He grinned and walked away into the night.