The Copper Amulet and The Ginger Cat

My prize winning Short Story ‘The Copper Amulet and The Ginger Cat’ – 2nd Place Winner of The Accent Prize – is featured in Boston Accent Lit’s Anniversary Issue 7. Link is below.

Orange Mystique


My Creative Nonfiction Essay titled ‘Orange Mystique’ features in Indiana Voice Journal April 2017 Issue – Link is below


100 Days of Mango Summer – the Fruit and the Motif


“Two yellow mangoes hanging on a tree,

Two little mangoes looking at me,”

went a children’s sing-a-long rhyme of my childhood, still ringing in tune in my ears. Ah, those long ago lazy days of hot mango summers – sticky and sweet and overflowing with gustatory juices! We thought of it as our “Indian summer” then, before the onset of the monsoons, although that appellate took on a whole exhaustive new meaning with Galsworthy ‘s Old Jolyon Forsyte. Summer in searing strength, summer beating back the coolness of spring breezes, till river beds ran dry caking and crumbling to dust and macadamised roads ran pools of melted tar. Summer in radiant bloom of such irreversible molten intensity. Summer with scorching sun gashing “gold vermillion”. The colors roared at me. And all I still saw through the shimmering haze was the plump ripeness of bountiful mangoes. All summer long from March to June all we ate were baskets of this divine fruit – olfactory and gastronomic delights complete. Never a meal was concluded without platefuls of this odorous and voluptuous “king of all fruit.” What could not be eaten was readily converted into iced shakes and drinks. From the red and round Ratnagiri ‘king’ alphonse (aapoos) to the saffron and slender pairi, from the neelam (as blue as the cactus on the black-soiled Deccan Plateau) to the pale and large malgoa, from the golden yellow and thin-skinned banganapalli to the elongated and distinctly aromatic kesar, such rich varieties, so  many to explore, so many to taste, every village, every orchard, every garden filled to over-flowing with its own typical variety, if not eaten ripe or raw or pickled, fiber and skin, peeled or unpeeled, sweet or tangy, sliced, quartered or whole, then there it was converted into fresh orange tall mango lassis or bowls of shrikhands or iced mango moscatis. It was mango madness each year, every year, intensified. The yellower the mango and the thinner the skin, the riper and juicier it was for overall satisfaction. Such large quantities helplessly consumed, and never mind the “mango-boils” that popped on skin like buttery popping corn. Ah, how the taste buds screamed mango-delight!

The Indian mango motif or ‘paisley design’ as it became more popularly called, after Britain, in that equally well-known era in history known as the British Raj, took it to the rest of the world through the East India Trading Company, is one of the most recognizable and enduring of designs in the world. It has a rich past linking it to one of the most cherished and ancient of classical dance forms known in India – the Bharathanatyam – through its ornamental jewelry the ‘mangalamalai’, comprising of interlocked mango-shaped rings. The aesthetics of this classical milieu with the auspicious nature of the mango leaves at its integral center takes us back to a journey in time of 4,000 years or more, since the mango has been around. But that is a different story, of the mango tree itself and the leaf. Today the mango motif is used in numerous ethnic and intricately crafted jewelry items in necklaces and eardrops delicately handcrafted in precious gem stones. Also to be noticed, the design is well liked in cloth weaving of Indian textiles in kancheepuram and other rich Indian silks or applique. It evokes an iconic sense of classic grace and timeless beauty. In Kerala and Tamilnadu the traditional “manga-mala” all-gold necklace striated in fine detailing of mango motifs is highly reverenced as a heritage collection.

The Ancient Oak Along a Country Road


The Oak

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

There is a grand old oak tree with rich deep green foliage that stands magnificently stout and unyielding at the very outer edge of the woods along the curve of the old country road that races a scurrying muddy creek that joins a river emptying into the Sound in the far east on Long Island. It is surrounded by some aging maples, tall firs and wild scandent thicket. Its twisted perambulating boughs stretch tirelessly enduring its own perpetuity even as it motionless conveys the semblance of an outwardly embrace or so it seems to the watchful eye.

Conjoined from the firmament to the earth this ancient oak ceaselessly stands, its giant arms knobbed and gnarled touching upwards the low hanging celestial clouds, probing downwards the abyss of its very own depths to its roots and encircling sideways and beyond its surrounding landscape like nature’s winsome paramour. When the sun on a morning touches the fine line of dewdrops on the perimeters of its glossy outer leaves it leaves a gleaming golden line of fire at the gossamer thin trace.

I touched that old, crusted bark with painful wonder. The curvature of the lightening strike as it  leveled the tree traveling down the partial length of the trunk was visible through the blackened splintered wood. The split tree now inclined partially to the right leaning into its own substantive structure and strength from its baseline. The distortion to its limbs was marked. What had been spared were the thick leafy green clusters as they crowded in plentiful arches. Stranger yet was that the tree still stood curiously vibrant in its rawness and resiliency.

Ducks on the Marshes of the Sound

Ducks on the Marshes of the Sound

ducks 3

“Four ducks on a pond, A grass bank beyond,

A blue sky of spring, White clouds on the wing : What a little thing

To remember for years – To remember with tears!” William Allingham

Sitting on the park bench gazing across the Long Island Sound on a sultry spring afternoon my attention was drawn to the wintry brown tall rushes and reeds that swayed coquettishly against the buffeting winds. It was not yet high tide so a vast stretch of bog and marshland was plainly visible as far as the eye could see.

What looked like a family of common brown ducks or mallards, the unmistakable blue-green markings of the male gleaming in the sun in shades of indigo and teal caught my eye as they slowly swam their way into the bulrushes and marshes, gently rising and falling in a uniform up and down motion with the soft swell of the sea. Their loud cries heralding their approach raucously filled the air rising above the swish and lap of the waters. So ambidextrous they looked as they paddled harmoniously along determined to arrive, the babies in such close unison never once leaving their mother’s side.

There is a rocky outcrop that harshly straddles the inlet to the west which they were now attempting to climb to get inland. They needed the security of the rocks before the high tide set in. It looked a palpable challenge notwithstanding what appeared to be their bleak endeavours particularly for the little ones. From my vantage point I watched and I waited.

I waited on that grassy green knoll which for today was my observation deck, watching perhaps a little too apprehensively the slow progress made by this family of ordinary mallards. And as I did, I felt eons of time wash and roll over me eschewing the passage of hours. For them it was the unsung song of the ages, an untold litany without reprieve.

A Walk at Sunset

A Walk at Sunset