They’d put me on a pedestral
Like I’d been done before
They’d rip off
My flesh and my bones
They oozed out my blood
And all that which made ‘me’
But it wasn’t the first time
I’d had this happening.
They’d rip me
Perhaps it was paining
Perhaps it wasn’t
But it wasn’t the first time
I’d had this happening.
What was, however, the first time
Was the face I saw on them.
It didn’t contain contempt
For, this time
They’d only ripped my body
Not my soul.
They’d ripped
And stripped me
Of my flesh, my ego.
So that,
This time
I could hug my soul.
The next time
Someone tried ripping my flesh
They’d know
It wouldn’t matter
For my flesh isn’t where I stay anymore.

© Madhulika Mitra 2017

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Book Review Treat: Her Last Wish by Ajay K Pandey


Book Review Treat: Her Last Wish by Ajay K Pandey

This book is a very poignant tale over the unsaid and suppressed stories of millions of AIDS patients who struggle so much living their last days among a judgemental world and spending last moments of love and despair with their loved ones.
The story starts with the protagonist Vijay Sharma, being dropped with the news that his wife is diagnosed by HIV after she donated blood at a camp.
The author then starts with the story of the protagonist over how his life was prior to meeting Astha, his soulmate and life partner. He lived a life of mediocrity where he could neither fulfill his dad’s expectations nor could he become successful in making a desired living. The only thing he really knew about with surity were rejections and failures.
Her Last Wish is a very strong social commentary, not only about how Indian society views and treats the people suffering from HIV etc but also on the Indian society and mindset, some comical others intriguing, each presented in a very light and yet an impactful manner by the author. The author made sure to include powerful observations on Indian parenting, education system, marriages in India etc. However, unlike the usual patriarchal society and the mindset that characters have on general, the author has brought out a very strong male protagonist in his novel and an equally strong message for the readers that a woman suffering through such a disease requires as much love and support from her family as she would have given had the situations been the other way round. The maturity of the protagonist while dealing with his wife’s disease, and the amount of awareness that the author has managed to pack in his book over the nature & treatment of the disease and the prejudice surrounding HIV AIDS is seriously commendable.
The writing style of the author is very simple and easy to relate with, however the dialogues don’t manage to pack the same punch as the plot, characters and the message. The cover of the book is very apt to the main theme of the book and also the love and bond shared by the protagonist and his wife, which shows in his determination to care for his wife. The narration style of the author is very impactful as he manages to bring out all the heavy emotions without being dramatic. The book is written just the way the events happen in a person’s life going through such a situation.
Overall I would rate this book 4/5. It’s got a very matured theme and it has been aptly treated with the same sensitivity and understanding that it deserves.

Book Review Treat: City Times and Other Poems


City Times and other poems is an impressive collection of heartfelt poems by Vihang A. Naik. This delightful book is divided into six parts- Love Song Of A Journeyman, Mirrored Men, The Path Of Wisdom, At The Shore, City Times and Self Portrait. I love how distinctions are made by the author and the kind of poems the author has introduced over various life experiences is amazing. The poems are very short, around 10-15 verses but these short verses pack such immensely powerful and emotional personal experiences. My favorite poem is “Eye” which talks about perceptions and resolve.

What is love about Vihang is not just another contemporary author who just aims to get his book published, no matter the content. Instead, he has quite laurels and contributions to his name and that makes this book an instant choice for me, and for any reader who’s looking for an insightful, intellectual and entertaining read at the same time. Vihang has qualifications in English Literature, Indian Literature and Philosophy, and his academic background reflects in the themes for his poems and the approach he has used to craft them. Despite the intensity of his beautiful pieces, they are not hard to connect with as he introduces topics that everyone has experienced and observed in their daily lives.

What I feel about his poems are, these are not just one time read. These are short, yes. You can finish a poem in 5 seconds. But they are so thought provoking, each poem will make you think what all interpretations could be made out of it. But since all the poems are based on common nature scenarios, interpreting them if at all is only going to be interesting, never hard like the classic poets.

The poems in this collection are philosophical, expressive and have an emotional flavor. The 1st part, “Love Song Of A Journeyman” is about the choices we make, especially when we have to choose between things we love, and the betrayals we cause or face in life. The journeyman goes through many heartbreaks on his path, and that is evident in the poems in this section.

The 2nd part, “Mirrored Men” is all about man and the material world. Or in other terms, the illusionary world. How humans react and think in the world of illusions and limited perceptions.

The 3rd part, “Self Portrait” talks about what we are and how we project ourselves in the world. But most importantly, our strengths in reserve and real qualities that we realize when we face tough situations. It talks about the faith that we keep over others only to realize that we were our own saviors all along.

The 4th part, “At The Shore” is about the myriad emotions that a person faces over his lifetime. The sea shore witnesses all our poignant experiences- whether they be of love and togetherness, or loneliness and desolation. It knows our most guarded selves and the most shining selves. The light and the dark.

The 5th part, “City Times” reflects the busyness and activity of the cities. The vibrancy, the challenges and also a new angle is brought down by author for cities- that is connection to nature even while in cities by the city people.

The 6th part, “Path of Wisdom” has little nuggets and pearls of wisdom on life et all. This is the most intriguing section as it makes us aware of the consequences of our thoughts, actions in society.

I would rate this book 4/5. The title could have been better, atleast better in encapsulating the essence of the thought that went behind this book.



—-Anubhav Gupta
(Guest Blogger)

Determination. After all the blues, life had adorned him with. After all the hopelessness that had crossed the path of his life. He started seeking for something that he could get determined to like a ferryman who gets determined to keep rowing until his boat reaches the shore as he sees a windstorm coming. He had his own way of handling the hitches. Of course, everyone has. But it was just not a hitch, it was a catastrophe. And despite all of this quandary, he was looking for something to get determined to. ‘I need a little distraction to keep myself up and about, to help myself gather strength to fight’ he thought.


He had always been known for this fire that kept burning in him ― to set goals and achieve them before the deadline he had decided. Never had he even failed until this dark phase hugged him. And this chain of introspecting sessions since a last few days made him miss himself. He wanted it back. He had never been a sadist and why should he be, now? “It’s time.” He said to himself, “It’s time to put the shoes on, back again. It’s time to pick up that diary and pen, back again. It’s time to go sit on that moist grass and observe the serene zenith, back again. It’s time to go commit to paper, back again. It’s time to give voice to every word, unspoken, back again. It’s time to find myself, back again.”


And he determined to write every day. No matter what he writes ― imaginative or mundane, interesting or disgusting. As sometimes, the biggest step is to just take a step, he took this one. And that’s how a little light entered into the dark phase of his life. And that’s where a new journey of his life commenced.

—-Anubhav Gupta



It was a very gloomy day indeed. And why not? My friend’s going back to her native country, America. It seems as if we met years before but we got to know each other only a month ago! We’ve really shared such unforgettable moment during these past 30 days and now that she’s going my life seems to go to an end. She’s going back, to a far of place, deserting me and her grandparents (with whom she was staying)!!!I wonder what urgency forced her well-off and busy father to leave Japan so soon. Whatever be the thing I am sure we’d meet next year and 1946 would be a very lucky year for me.

So you must be thinking who am I? I am Hisako Matsubara, a 10 year old Japanese girl and my friend Mauler, is also a 10 yr old but is an American. During our holidays, we’ve really enjoyed a lot and also made certain promises. We would start on our chatting, playing, singing and doing every possible thing together soon after I returned from school to home, relished my sushi and sometimes sashimi or maybe rice or noodles, with a soup, and okazu or even maybe ichijū-sansai (“one soup, one side” or “one dish meal which means soup, rice, and one accompanying side dish–usually a pickled vegetable like daikon) and ofcourse after I would have completed my daily chores. We even made promises like we’ll always and always miss each other once we’ve parted.

“I’d really miss her mom!” I just sat down on the couch, folded my arms and started to think about those days of our friendship. The worst thing was we couldn’t even write letters as Mauler only knew to speak Japanese and didn’t know to write it; not even her parents. And I didn’t even know a single thing about her language and this thing was totally bumming me out.

“Don’t be sad, Hisako dear. Life will keep on moving and if destiny wants then your wish really would be fulfilled,” mom explained.

“ I never knew destiny would be so harsh. I wish I could stay with her for few more days…………”

No use wishing! The next day seemed to come tooooooo early, much earlier than other days…………… I saw Mauler, waving her hands, giving me the last hug………I expected that day to be very very boring but rather something very unusual happened; something that changed the direction of my life and maybe America shouldn’t deserve to be blamed, maybe it was just a dirty prank played by destiny!!!

I was sitting alone trying to do one of the things I used to do normally but couldn’t concentrate on anything-not even singing, the thing that I loved most of all. Such was the effect of loosing a friend but how did I know there was something which had a much more affect than that. I suddenly got carried away with the thought of World War II. I was thinking about the fight going on between Japan and America………………and that that America had been throwing bombs over most of our cities…………and it could be Hiroshima even…………and it could be here………right on Misasa Bridge, here where I live!

‘What a freak I am’, I thought slapping myself hard on my face, ’such thoughts bring me nothing but sour feeling. Better if I don’t think ‘bout that!’ Saying this to myself I decided to meet my 2 yr old friend and also next-door neighbor Sasaki Sadako. But as soon as I just stepped out of my house I could feel an incredible heat and when I looked up at the strong light above I could feel slowly and slowly everything going black…not even a single thing could I see. ‘What happened to my eyes? Why am I not able to see anything?’ I kept on rubbing my eyes but nothing changed. Suddenly I experienced a shock wave. I turned back and suddenly I knew I hit something maybe the table or sofa but then something falling down…but what? How awkward was it to not be able to see anything. I soon felt dizzy and fainted.

As I woke up and opened my eyes…I knew I opened my eyes so why still everything black?

‘Mom, why am I not able to see anything?’ I stretched my arm forward looking for my mom’s face………….It was then I got to know, I was blind, forever! But this thought kept on triggering that why did I get blind? And that by just seeing at the sun above! But I soon knew it wasn’t the sun that blinded my eye. That strong light…….that incredible heat………..and my heart saying something is wrong!

After few days I could suddenly hear my mom crying loudly. She told me everything about what she heard on the radio. She told me that America had dropped a new kind of a very devastating bomb (just what I was thinking the day before. Was this the power of my thought?) in Hiroshima and we were miles away from where the bomb had been dropped. She said that this bomb has affected till far of places. I came to know the cruelty of this bomb when mom told that this bomb caused the wood to char black white old and the dirty concrete bleached white. Even the roads had melted and fused leaving only a black patch. Most of the people had their hands burnt and swollen and great sheets of skin had peeled away from their tissues to hang down like rags on scarecrows. Even there were people whose shadow had been burned and they were killed by having been vaporized by the heat and the subsequent shock wave that arrived a few seconds later. Oh god! Such a devastating effect?!? Which demon has ever thought of creating such a bomb??? But you must be thinking why should I be so scared when I am safe! The main reason of concern was my father. Thinking of him gave me the creeps and my eyes reddened with fear so all I did was pray and pray and only pray……………….

Luckily dad was saved from such a suffering and I was totally overwhelmed to see him after he returned from his long trip just few days before. Even after that what concerned me again was when I heard that he had wounds but mom told they were just minor wounds and not to be scared of! Then after few days my mom told me something that my coward ears didn’t deserve to be heard. Dad started loosing his hairs and had started getting blisters and suddenly his skin had started to peel and most of all he was vomiting clumps of blood. No one knows what was it…not even the doctors. Could this be the effect of that devastating bomb? I felt happy somehow to be blind as I know I wouldn’t have been able to see such an effect that had undermined my dad’s constitution. But even though if not my body’s window but my mind’s eye (soul) could feel those 10 days of agony and torture my dad suffered. Is that what the destiny wanted? I am very happy Mauler moved from this place long ago…even though she was an American!

I did not mourn my late father’s death on September 14th. I knew those 10 dreadful days were enough for my father’s good soul to suffer. The only memory I grieve upon is the poem below that he wrote during those terrifying days and I often ask my mom to read it out to me:


Oh the divine and sweet angles,

I cry out to you, from my heart so true,

Take me away to some far away place

Maybe to god, so that I can see his face

This world impure

Not fit for me

Oh the sweet workers of god

Please once listen to me

Let me see you with your shining wings

And the purity in you

Which in this big hollow place is needed.

Let me not stay alone,

On the land of evil

And don’t force me to be a part of them

I don’t want to stay among such devils.

But before going if I only can; once change the world,

Make me strong and not a poor, sweet and innocent thing.

So oh my lord

I ask you to send

Some angle like friends

Before the day ends!!!

I knew what this meant and am quite happy that god fulfilled his wish partially. We all knew that these aftereffects were all because of that nuclear bomb so I could feel my dad’s pain and I knew what depressed him. As he knew what was to suffer like this he had been thinking of thousands of those people who maybe suffered more than him. At the same time I could feel his desire to change the past and to again be normal and live his happy life again!

It was 1954 and I grew up to be 19.What amazed me was that I could feel certain changes in me which also occurred in Sadako, my 2 yr old friend who was now 11. I never saw her growing but would listen to and respond her motivating words even now when she’s not well.

I knew I’d developed a cold and mom told me more. She told me those strange change which caused a lot of pain in actual were lumps developed on my neck and behind my ears. I felt such swollen things moving towards my face time by time. After 1 year we both (Sadako and me) developed purple spots on our legs. Till then I didn’t even remember how was purple color. The only thing I knew was that it was my favourite color. Soon in that year it was diagnosed that we both are suffering from leukemia. Leukemia………………..and we both had only a year to get all the love. I could feel my mom’s pain. Ofcourse even she suffered through a lot of illness but the most of the pain she suffered through was the thought of her was loosing first my father and now me. We both were her best possessions in her life and now she’d loose us both. She often told me that she won’t be able to survive after I passed away and these days I felt more than depressed.

Soon I was hospitalized and in those 365 days I felt myself to be much more closer to Sadako than before. I even felt that there still were people who at least grieved our pains. The people of Nagoya used to send us one thousand origami paper cranes as a “Get Well” gift. What a pleasure those days were! There was a plenty of time left in the hospital so I used to tell Sadako a lot about the stories my mom used to read out to me.

”Hisako, why do we get these cranes as our “get well” presents?” Sadako asked me shrilly one day.

“Because there is a famous Japanese belief saying that one who folds a 1000 paper cranes is being granted with a wish”, I reported.

And then suddenly a crazy idea struck her head. She wished to live and wished that I would live too! So she decided to fold 2000 cranes but I very well knew that with the time left with us, she wouldn’t even complete a 1000 cranes! So to lessen the burden of the thought of folding 200 cranes I told her was that I had no desire to live and that she should do as much as she could for herself. I knew that this Japanese saying wouldn’t take her anywhere but how could I ever break such a young heart? Determined in her actions, she soon started folding the cranes. Each morning the moon went away, the sun came and our lives became more and more shorter. Knowing this Sadako became much more gritty and no pain or excruciating feeling could stop her but the only barrier in her dreams was that she lacked paper. But still she never stopped. She went ahead and used the medicine wrapping and whatever she could scrounge upon.

“Hey Sadako, where are you going,” I once asked her.

“I’d just return in few minutes,” she then replied.

And then I heard her footsteps coming, and heard her talking, her voice reflecting both sad and excited feeling.

“What happened?” I queried.

“Hisako, as I am running short of paper I went to other patient’s room to ask to use the paper from their get well presents…………..”

“So they didn’t give it to you?” I again asked.

“No! They gave and that too very happily but I am sad to ruin their get well presents”

But that was the only way she could find paper for folding cranes. She even used up her “get well” cranes and even I used to give her mine so she’d never have to borrow but as you know mine and her cranes were too less for her such big ambition!

I thought she’d never be able to complete but at the time of her death she did wonders. She indeed folded 1,300 cranes! Human’s mind can really achieve the most impossible things like USA achieved a nuclear bomb and my little friend, 1,300 paper cranes but sadly that never fulfilled her wish. Then one day I felt short of her encouraging words. Yes! She died and I knew my death was very soon to come!

My feeble body lay asleep when all of a sudden I heard a soft, gentle voice and I very well knew I heard such innocent voice sometime long ago but it was becoming tough for me to recognize it.

“Hisako, it’s me, Mauler.!”

“Mauler!” I screamed excitedly even though it pained when I did so.

“I know you’re angry”

“Angry, but for what?”

“For whatever my country did!”

“Oh common! Atleast it ended the 2nd World War and I am very thankful for that!”

“I wish my co-citizens could have possessed such a kindness that’s in your heart” said Mauler, “I even wished to come here long ago and do something for you but that wasn’t the correct time.” Saying this Mauler took my weak bony hands into hers and my mom did the same with my other hand and they both started weeping. That was the last time I felt Mamma’s & Mauler’s touch and after that I became lifeless……

© 2016 Mind Pickles

I wrote this story at the age of 13. I posted this story on my old blog: Queen Of Goodness. It’s my little twist to the tale of Sasaki Sadako as I made her my protagonist’s friend at the hospital.


Madhulika Mitra (a.k. a Luna Lune)