Stories & Poems

Long before I started writing for children 
I was writing poetry. And although I'm not sure how they measure up to the lofty standards of the world of poets and poems, I find great solace in expressing myself through verse. So, if you like poetry, do keep checking for poetic tit-bits every now and then.

Like evey great person (wink wink) I too make a discovery once in a while. My latest one is that writing for children's magazines is just as much fun as writing for books. Scroll down this page, to find  some of the stories I have contributed to various children's magazines.

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freedom stories
flag stories

Granny Gardenium 

(written for Highlights Champs Dec2016 issue)

Mikhail was sitting on one of the branches of the scarlet oak, taking a short breather before climbing higher. He loved to scour the trees for birds’ nests. He also loved to chase the rabbits that came for a drink of water at the slender brook down below.

These little everyday adventures gave him a respite from his monotonous life in the orphanage where all he did was go about life like a zombie – wake up at six in the morning, leave for school at seven, return from school at three, start homework by four, complete chores by five, have supper at seven and head to bed at eight. And then it would start again . . . 
 
Mikhail was lonely because he did not have many friends at the orphanage. He had felt this way 
ever since the war claimed his family. It also left him with a burn scar on one side of his face that attracted stares from the other children. That made him uncomfortable and reminded 
him of the many horrors he had faced. 
 
Today, as Mikhail sat on a sturdy branch amidst the red-green foliage of the marvelous oak, he spotted a little old lady crouched on all fours in her backyard. Climbing down a few branches for a closer look, he saw that she was digging away furiously, holding a trowel in one hand. When she got up after a while for a sip of water, he noticed that she was covered in dirt from head to toe. Mikhail chuckled at the sight. He had never seen an adult in such a mess before, and he 
wanted to take a closer look. He climbed down the tree and scurried to crouch behind the bush that lined the picket fence bordering the old lady’s backyard.  
 
The lady was Mrs. Spark. She had recently moved into town with her cat. 
 
Just the day before, from the kitchen window, she saw a squirrel run across the backyard and bury a nut near the hedge. The sight brought a smile to her face. Digging up the dirt with bare hands sure seemed like fun. Memories of a childhood spent in her grandfather’s backyard amidst hundreds of plants rushed in, enveloping her in a warm embrace. And right then, still sipping her cup of tea, Mrs. Spark made up her mind to spend the remainder of her life digging in the dirt.  
 
Now, as she used her bare hands to pull out the weeds and stones from one corner of the backyard, Mrs. Spark had that feeling of ‘being watched’. And it was not without reason. Scanning the length of the wooden fence around the backyard, she found a pair of eyes peering into hers. Mikhail ducked when their eyes met. After a minute, he rose again when he thought he was no longer being watched. By then, Mrs. Spark had trotted out of her cottage and snuck up behind Mikhail, giving him the fright of his life. He attempted to run, but Mrs. Spark had not 
lost her agility; she caught him by the arm before he made his escape.  
 
‘Do you like to dig in the dirt too?’ she asked, kneeling down so they were eye-to-eye.  
 
Mikhail’s hand instinctively travelled to his face to cover his scar. But it was not his scar that bothered Mrs. Spark, it was the loneliness in his eye. ‘Would you like to dig with me?’ she asked again, running her hand through Mikhail’s dark hair. 
 
Mikhail gave an unsure nod. Digging did seem like fun, but he was surprised that the lady was not put off by his looks. Although the warden at the orphanage had always been kind to him, Mikhail could see him flinch every time he walked into his office. ‘Maybe I was wrong,’ he thought ‘maybe there are people who can look through my scars and not at them.’ And then, something about the lady told him that she was as lonely as he. So, when Mrs. Spark invited him into her backyard and her life with a peck on his forehead, his face lit up with a warm smile. 
 
It did not take much time for the two to get comfortable with each other. Soon as Mrs. Spark laid down a tray of cookies and some lemonade, they were deep in conversation. It was only when a vague outline of the moon started to show up from behind the darkening clouds that Mikhail stood up to rush back to the orphanage, promising to be back the next day. 
 
And so, Mikhail and Mrs. Spark spent the next few weeks digging and preparing the soil, sowing seeds and tending to them, even as they shared stories and took turns fussing over the cat. When the first shoots and infant leaves poked their heads through the soil to bask in the sunshine, Mrs. Spark baked a chocolate cake to celebrate. When the saplings started to grow, the duo built a scarecrow that didn’t look the least bit scary but had several bells that jangled with the wind and sent the squirrels scampering away and kept the robins and starlings as bay. The bond between Mikhail and Mrs. Spark grew stronger with the seasons and blossomed with the first buds that appeared on the Begonia. 
 
Inspired by the Begonias, the other plants too started flowering in succession and Mrs. Spark’s backyard was soon a riot of colors. However, there was one particular plant that had grown silently in a corner, unnoticed by the two of them until its splendorous purple flowers opened up one day and smiled at the world.  
 
“Now, I’m sure I didn’t plant that,” said Mrs. Spark, sizing the plant and inhaling the sweet fragrance of its flowers. “It must be a weed.” 
 
“Oh . . . then it must be the most beautiful weed in the world,” remarked Mikhail. 
 
Mikhail buried his head into a book on flowering plants from Mrs. Spark’s library, hoping to find mention of this weed. Chrysanthemum, Geranium, Anthurium, Helenium, Nasturtium . . . there was a mention of all these and more, but not one word about the silent guest in their garden. “Looks like the plant has sprung out only for us, Mrs. Spark, so it is only fair that we give it a name,” said Mikhail, his eye twinkling. “And I have just the name for it.”  
 
Mikhail ran out to the backyard, unable to contain his excitement. Even as Mrs. Spark tried to catch up with him, he sprinkled some cool water on the plant with great ceremony and declared, “I hereby name you ‘Granny Gardenium’.” 
 
“Granny Gardenium? That’s a curious name indeed,” chuckled Mrs. Spark. 
 
“But it is perfect! The beautiful purple flowers are a symbol of your love for your garden and my love for you,” Mikhail whispered, wrapping his arms around Mrs. Spark’s. 
 
As Mrs. Spark held Mikhail in a tight embrace, tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. The next day, the duo made a pretty bunch of the purple flowers and took it to the nearby nursery to introduce the town to Granny Gardenium. 

freedom stories
flag stories

A Flag for Freedom 

(written for Highlights Champs Aug 2016 issue)

It was the evening of 14th August 1947 and six hours remained before Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru would address the nation as the first Prime Minister of independent India. There was a flurry of activity in the sprawling ghetto in the heart of the city. The adults were busy clearing up a municipal ground nearby – picking up every piece of litter and filling up the many water-filled puddles with sand- so that everyone could gather there in time for the speech.  
 
No, they weren’t going to watch Pandit Nehru deliver the speech live. Nor did they own television sets on which they could see him delivering the speech in faraway Delhi. But Rehman Chacha had arranged for a radio that they could listen to if he managed to tune in to the correct frequency.  
 
Sameer, Lalitha, Kuldeep and Nabila swarmed over Chacha as he tinkered with the red and silver box. They laughed at the strange hissing noises that came from the radio. And they clapped when they could decipher the words of a movie song amongst a lot of garbled sounds when Chacha tapped the top of the radio. When Chacha finally managed to tune in to the right frequency, the voice that came out was too feeble to be heard by a large crowd. 
 
“I know what we can do!” Lalitha jumped up with a sparkle in her eyes. “We can borrow a loudspeaker from Shankarbhai!” Shankarbhai ran a ‘band baaja’ rental out of a modest shop on the other side of the railway track.  
 
“Great idea!” said Rehman Chacha. “So, which one of you wants to run along and get me the loudspeaker?” Chacha asked, knowing very well that the four friends would decide to go together. They really were the inseparable four in the entire ghetto. 
 
And so, the children ran off to find Shankarbhai and Rehman Chacha rummaged the shelves of his shop for some wires and tapes.  
 
Back at the ground, the clearing work had gathered full momentum. Murugan Anna, the leader of the ghetto, inspired everyone with slogans and stories from the 100 years of struggle that had finally lead to this momentous day of the country’s freedom from British rule. He hoped and prayed that the rains wouldn’t play spoilsport that night.  
 
Soon, the friends were back at Chacha’s shop, wearing a triumphant smile. Kuldeep held the loudspeaker above his head and danced a silly dance, making everyone laugh. But once Chacha started the work of connecting the radio to the speaker, the children started getting impatient.  
 
“What else can we do?” wondered Nabila as they watched Chacha’s deft hands at work. 
 
“Why don’t you find some decorations?” Salma Chachi said, placing a cup of hot tea on a stool for Chacha. “Or even better, you could make a flag that we could display at the ground later tonight!” 
 
“Of course . . . a flag! We must have a flag to celebrate,” Sameer said, jumping up to his feet.  
 
“But how does the flag look? And how can we make one?” Lalitha worried. 
 
“I know,” Nabila said, wearing an excited grin. “Abbu told me a few days back that the flag has an orange strip at the top, a white strip in the middle and a green strip at the bottom. And the white strip has a blue wheel in the centre.” 
 
“Really? How can he be so sure?” Sameer asked, his knitted eyebrows forming deep furrows on his forehead. 
 
“Arre, Abbu knows everything!” Nabila defended her father. “And if you must know, the manager of the office where Abbu works as a peon showed him the model of the flag last week. Abbu also heard some officers discuss about how it had been decided to replace Bapu’s charkha with the Ashok Chakra in the centre.” 
 
“Charkha, chakra . . . they all sound similar to me,” Lalitha quipped. “Now let’s not waste time and get started on the flag!” 
 
And so the four friends ran to their homes to collect material for the flag. Kuldeep’s Amma cut out a portion of her orange dupatta and handed it to the kids with a smile. Sameer’s Dada willingly parted with his white dhoti and Lalitha tore a portion from her green skirt for the sake of their flag. 
 
“Nabila, do you have something blue with you?” Sameer, Kuldeep and Lalitha asked in a chorus. “We only need a small bit for the chakra.” 
 
“Not really,” replied Nabila, hanging her head in despair. But her face soon lit up with a smile. “I have many of these blue ribbons though!” she said, untying one of her plaits and dangling the ribbon in front of her friends.  
 
“Perfect! Let’s go and get them then,” chorused the friends again, running towards Nabila’s hut. 
 
Once they had all the strips with them, Sameer’s Dadi helped to stitch them together just the way Nabila had described the flag. Dadi cut the blue ribbons into thinner strips so that they could form the spokes of the chakra. 
 
Kuldeep, Sameer, Nabila and Lalitha beamed when Dadi handed them the completed flag. How beautiful it looked! They couldn’t wait to show it off to the others. It was not very large, but they were rather proud of it. 
 
Soon, Rehman Chacha’s voice boomed through the loudspeaker. “Come on everybody, assemble at the ground and take your seats. The speech will start anytime now!” 
 
Once everyone was seated on the ground – some on their hunches, some with their legs crossed- Lalitha, Sameer, Nabila and Kuldeep followed Rehman Chacha to the table, where they placed the radio and speaker with great fanfare. Lalitha’s father, a carpenter, had volunteered to knock together a grand table, especially for this occasion. The children then hung the flag on a string tied between the front legs of the table. Claps and hoots from the crowd filled the air for a while before Chacha held up his hands. It was time for the historic broadcast and everyone instantly fell silent.  
 
Chacha switched on the radio and Pandit Nehru’s voice resounded across the ground. The speech was in English, but Murugan Anna translated every bit of it to the crowd before fire crackers shot up to light the night sky. For the four friends and everybody else present on the ground that night, this would be the most memorable night for the rest of their lives. 

olympic stories

Second to None

(written for Highlights Champs Aug 2016 issue)

Drawing her knees close to her chest, Nita buried her head between them and began to sob. Amma was distraught. ‘What can I say to her to make her feel better?’ she thought. She lovingly wrapped her arms around her daughter. “So what if you didn’t come first Nita? A silver medal is just as fantastic. And we’re all so proud of you!” 

However, Nita was inconsolable. She had been the star of the athletics team at school and everyone, including her teachers, had expected her to win the 100-meter dash at the inter-school sports meet. But Nita had come a measly second to the 5th grader from Naman Vidhyalaya. Nita had run her best and had almost reached the finish line when Megha overtook her at the very last moment. There had been a very audible gasp from everyone at the stands before all the claps and hoots meant for her had been diverted towards Megha.  

Recollecting the embarrassing moment from earlier in the day, Nita was overcome with anger. “It’s the shoes!” she screamed as she stormed out of her room and kicked her shoes hard until one of them skidded under the sofa and the other flew into the air before landing on the TV cabinet. She then ran back to her room and buried her face in the pillow. 

Amma knew the feeling very well. She herself had been a star badminton player at college and losses were never easy to bear. She called up Mr. Arun who lived a few blocks. “Could you come over this evening and talk to Nita?” she requested him, explaining her predicament.  
Arun Uncle, as everyone in the neighbourhood fondly called him, dropped by around tea-time. He himself was a national-level long-jumper and ran a sports academy that trained Olympic aspirants from across the state. When Nita came out of her room to meet him, her eyes were red and swollen. She hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone, but she liked Arun uncle and it would have been rude to turn him away. 

“Do you know Nita that even the greatest sportspersons have not always won gold”, Arun uncle said as he sipped the hot tea Amma had set down on the table. “Take the case of our own Milkha Singh and P T Usha, for instance. They were excellent runners and won so many medals, but both came fourth at the Olympic finals. Can you imagine a worse situation? Just a few seconds faster and they’d have had their names etched into Olympic history for ever. And while the great Muhammad Ai himself has lost a few matches to a better opponent, tennis great Roger Federer has been trying to win that elusive Olympic Gold since so long. But did that stop any of them from running, boxing or playing tennis again? No. They were disappointed, for sure. But they kept doing what they loved to do.  

Nita nodded. She closed her eyes and imagined herself in P T Usha’s shoes at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where she missed the Bronze medal by 1/100th of a second. What a huge disappointment that would have been!  

“But I could have come first today if it weren’t for my horrible shoes!” Nita protested, not yet convinced about her loss. “Megha had those fancy spiked shoes on you know? Her father had bought them for her when he was in London for work.” 

“Well Nita,” Arun uncle smiled a patient smile, noticing the lone shoe that still stood on top of the TV cabinet, “shoes do matter. But not as much as the efforts we put in. The history of Olympics is full of people who have won despite their poor backgrounds. In fact, the first African-America woman to win an Olympic Gold – Alice Coachman – ran all her high jump run-ups barefoot until she was chosen to represent the USA for the Olympics. And her first high jump crossbars were rags tied together above a dirt road in her hometown! Abebe Bikila, a double Olympic marathon champion from Ethiopia, is most famous for winning a marathon gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics while running barefoot. Do you know that a stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honour?” 

Arun uncle then pulled out the day’s newspaper from under the table and opened the sports page. In there was an article about how Meb Keflezigh, the marathon runner who came second in the 2004 Athens Olympics and fourth in the London Olympics of 2012 was all geared up to run at the Rio Olympics. He was over 40 now, but was still quite sure he had a chance at winning the Gold this time. Nita read the column carefully. When she raised her head, the frown had been replaced by a faint smile.
 
“Well, I’ve got to run now,” said Arun uncle, “time for my next session to start!” As he got up to leave, he invited Nita to visit his academy sometime. “Maybe I could arrange for someone to coach you for your next race,” he said, even as Nita’s face lit up with a brilliant smile. 

Pulling the door shut behind her, Amma went back to finish her chores leaving Nita alone to figure things out. Nita sat on the sofa for a while, thinking about her race and all that Arun uncle had said. She then picked up the shoe from atop the TV cabinet and got a broom to prod out the other shoe from under the sofa. ‘I’m sorry’, she whispered to them before stacking them back in the shoe rack. ‘It’s not really your fault.’ 

Later that night, as she prepared to go to bed, Arun uncle’s last words echoed in her mind. “If I were you,” he’d said, “I’d watch the upcoming Rio Olympics for the runners-up in every event rather than the winners. Because how they conduct themselves and handle their loss will be a testament to their character and make them as famous as their winning rivals.” 

kite stories

Bashir's Kites

(written for Highlights Champs Jan 2016 issue)

Bashir throws back his head and stares at the hundreds of fishes swimming in the crisp blue sky above him. No, he is not dreaming. Every year, come Uttarayan, the sky above him turns into an ocean where kites of all shapes and sizes float around like fishes.  

For Bashir, seeing the kites soaring in the sky is extra special, for he has contributed in his own small way to making some of those kites. His is amongst the several families living in the old city of Ahmedabad that are traditionally involved in kite-making. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Bashir was born on a bed of kites!
  
Months before Uttarayan each year, Bashir’s father procures the raw materials required for making a kite such as light-weight paper, bamboo sticks and cotton thread from the local market. While kites are made mostly by hand and require very few tools, a professional kite-maker always keeps with him a set of precisely measured and crafted cardboard stencils for making various shapes and sizes of kites. After all, kites are not just pretty pieces of paper flying in the sky. Their construction is based on the scientific principles of air pressure and aerodynamics!  

Bashir’s home soon turns into a mini factory, where there is work for every member of the family. Armed with the cardboard stencils, his father can cut out over a thousand paper kites in a day. His uncles then paste thin cotton thread along the edges to prevent the paper from tearing in flight. Next, his aunts paste bamboo sticks along the diagonals of the kites –one straight and the other bent in the shape of an arc- with the help of homemade glue. Finally, Bashir helps his mother in sticking tails of varying designs onto the kites. Elsewhere in their locality, there are families that dye the strings and coat them with a blend of a special glass powder and rice paste to make them resilient for the kite-fights or Patangbaazi. 

The kites are stored carefully in Bashir’s home until the weeks preceding Uttarayan, when they are sent out to stalls around the city to be sold to enthusiastic shoppers. The most popular of these is the Patang Bazaar, which is a riot of colours and is chock-a-block with people bargaining for kites and firkis (colourful spools of string) into the wee hours of the night. For the people of Ahmedabad, including many of Bashir’s friends, Uttarayan celebrations commence with the ritual kite shopping, tying of the ‘manja’ or string to the kite and getting ready for some epic duels to be fought in the skies even as lip-smacking sweets such as Til-papad, Chikki and Til-ka-laddoo are prepared in every kitchen.  

In recent years, Ahmedabad has become popular for its International Kite Festival where enthusiasts from the world over converge to show off their kites and kite-flying skills. Much as Bashir loves the simple paper kites that his family makes and sells, he also likes to amble down to the Sabarmati riverfront where an assortment of giant kites is flown by experts. From kites painted with images of Ganesha and Hanuman to those shaped like Sharks, Jelly Fish, Rubik Cubes, Birds, Dragons, Snakes, Lanterns and even cartoon characters such as Doremon and Chota Bheem, Bashir marvels at the oversized kites as well as the skills of the kite-fliers whose deft hands control and maneuver them around the crowded sky. He hopes that one day, he too would be able to make and fly a super-sized kite at the Festival. Until then, he is happy helping his family churn out thousands of kites that will be the source of joy and excitement for kite-flying aficionados across his city.  

From being mere pieces of coloured paper to finally soaring in the sky under the guidance of expert hands, the journey of Bashir’s kites is indeed exciting. So, are you ready to make you own kite and fly it too?  

Story copyright © Priya Narayanan 2016, All rights reserved
valentine day stories

Valentine's Day Card

(written for Champak Feb 2016 issue)

Sudha’s Grandfather, whom she fondly called Dada, had recently retired from work. Being an engineer, he had worked with an automobile company for the last 35 years. His colleagues held a grand ceremony to felicitate Dada and bid him farewell.  
 
Mummy told Sudha that retiring from work meant not going to office any more. It was like taking a long vacation from work. Sudha was confused. ‘Sure, Dada doesn’t go to office everyday now; but he still seems to be busy the whole day!’ 
When she asked Dada about this he smiled and explained, ‘Retiring means re-tyreing our worn out wheels and starting a new journey in your life.” Dada attended yoga classes every morning, and his instructor Ms. Dina said he was one of her best students! Although Dada was 65, he did not like being called a ‘senior citizen.’  
 
Dada was an expert at repairing household gadgets that had conked off. In the last one month, he had repaired Papa’s phone charger, Mummy’s kitchen blender, Didi’s keyboard, Deepa mami’s electric kettle, Kaalu bhaiyya’s pocket radio, Ramesh kaka’s electric shaver . . . phew! That was a long list! 
 
Dadi joked that Dada should set up a repair shop of his own. Dadi also bickered with him saying she would never get to retire. She said homemakers had to remain homemakers all their life. ‘That is not fair! When I grow up, I will take Dadi for a long beach vacation,’ Sudha decided. After all, Dadi did love the seaside. And Sudha loved Dadi’s cooking. North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican . . . whatever the cuisine, Dadi could whip up the tastiest fare. Sudha’s friends at school were always eager to peep into her lunchbox to see what mouth-watering snack awaited their grumbling tummies! 
 
Of course, Dada and Dadi had their share of fights too. When they were very mad, they threw pillows at each other and it was indeed a puzzle as to whether they were really fighting or having a whole lot of fun! Dada and Dadi also patched up almost immediately after their fights. ‘The wonderful thing about love is, it helps you to truly forgive and forget!’ Dadi would say with a whimsical look in her eyes. So after their rather tiring pillow-fights, Dada and Dadi would sit hand in hand on the swing in the veranda and talk about the fun they had in their youth.  
 
Today, as Sudha crouched under the window, trying to eavesdrop on her grandparents, she remembered that she had to make a Valentine’s Day card as part of her class assignment. Skipping back to her room, she saw Mummy and Papa huddled on the couch, sharing a laugh over a newspaper article. Through the window, she spotted Didi cuddling and feeding biscuits to Rancho, the neighbourhood mutt, whose tail wagged vigorously in excitement. Mali kaka was busy talking to his plants even as he watered and weeded them with great care.  
 
Sudha smiled, knowing exactly what she wanted to draw on her card. ‘When you are with someone you love, every day is Valentine’s Day!’ she thought. As she sat down to work on her masterpiece, Rani gave out a soft purr, wrapped herself around Sudha’s leg and drifted off to sleep. 

Story copyright © Priya Narayanan 2016, All rights reserved

olympic stories

Secret

winner of the OWAQ 2.0 contest held by anoshoflife.com

Pour me a drink. 
 
My stories are in the bubbles 
that rush past. Fleeting, floating, 
rapturous, rumbustious – 
my stories are the ones 
that kiss your lips 
and tingle your senses 
before common sense prevails 
and strangles each story 
lest you gulp them down 
and become one with them. 
 
Pour me a drink. 
 
My stories are in the ice cubes 
that float like fish 
in the koi pond 
where you come to feast your eyes 
on the streaks of golden orange, 
your passionate gaze 
causing them to sink to the bottom 
from where only a coin diver 
can collect them again – 
if he has faith that they do indeed exist. 
 
Pour me a drink. 
 
My stories are in the numbness 
of my tongue – 
my otherwise wagging tongue 
that is now paralyzed into silence. 
Can you hear the stories 
in my silence? Can you see 
the stories in my eyes, 
where the pupils 
have been replaced 
by the moon and his darker twin? 
 
How long does it take for a story 
to travel from the eyes and the ears 
to the tongue? 
 
Pour me a drink 
and I might let you into my little secret.

poetry anthology

The Undertaker's Wife

Longlisted for the 2013 RLP Award, Featured in the anthology: An Unsettled Winter


I look at her, as she lay on our antique wooden cot, fast asleep.  
The soft cotton blanket lay crumpled beside her, a reminder  
that she’d never really cared for it - preferring instead 
to sleep with the breeze caressing her lithe body.  
I look at her with ardor as I’ve done several times before,  
but it’s different this time. . .  
 
Her almond eyes, her ears hiding behind graying curls, 
her thin lips and not-so-thin eyebrows, her broad forehead,  
her pointed chin and nose, her neck and sinewy shoulders. . . 
A grim nor’wester snaps me back to the job at hand. Slowly, I slide
beside her, undoing her clothes as I’ve done several times before, 
but it’s different this time. . . 
 
I pick up a sodden sponge and run it over her pale, 
taut frame, taking care not to chafe, lest she’d complain.  
I pick up her citrus-laced lotion and daub it softly,  
releasing the most pleasant yet poignant fragrance.  
I stagger to the cabinet and pick up her favorite dress:  
a lilac knee-length outfit with dull-gold sequins around the waist;  
 
My eyes well up as I slip it down her slender form. 
I avoid the jewelry – she’d never fancied them – ‘cept for the  
wedding band and the glass-bead earrings from our last vacation. 
I place her favorite black shoes on her feet. My lips shiver  
as they kiss hers, as they’ve done several times before, 
but it’s different this time. . . 
 
As I turn around, the aides take over, placing her gently  
in a satin-lined casket. As we move along in the hearse,  
I play back her favorite songs in my mind; I imagine her  
dancing with abandon, just the way she did when we first met. 
 
The grave is dug, the vault sunk in, the prayers said. I place  
a bunch of her much loved lavenders by her and say a silent goodbye. 
Promising to return every day, I turn around and walk away 
 
never to direct a funeral again. 

Poem copyright © Priya Narayanan 2013, All rights reserved
* Click on the Anthology cover to download the entire anthology in pdf. You can find my poem on page 36.

poetry anthology
The Divine Dilemma
Winner of the 'Outstanding Contribution' Award by the British Council 

I was but a piece of stone 
lying motionless by the river, 
when one day a tender hand picked me up 
and changed my life forever. 
 
I was ecstatic, I remember 
my body shivered with hope, 
like an abandoned orphan 
who’d found a new home. 
 
Soon I drowned in my newfound bliss 
and marvelled at their avid ways, 
as a fine hand carved me a handsome face, 
a pious hand smeared me with sandalwood paste, 
a prosperous hand built me a becoming abode, 
and the world came on its knees to name me…God. 
 
Yes, they still come: 
they come in full strength, 
flowers in hand 
prayers on lips 
hope in their hearts 
faith in their minds . . . 
 
They light lamps for me 
to drive out the darkness from their lives; 
Offer fruits, milk and honey 
to free themselves of starvation; 
They fill my arms with annas* and diamond rings 
to ensure a prosperous life ahead; 
And sing praises through endless nights 
to strengthen their faith in me… 
 
And when at long last they shut the door, 
leaving me trapped in the darkness 
with but a golden glow, 
I sit and wonder: 
 
What a quirk of fate it was that made me 
an object of their misplaced faith… 
And as memories of a hundred years 
cloud my mind, I ask myself - 
No doubt they’ve made me their God, 
but . . . do I want to be God? 
 
 
*anna - was a currency unit formerly used in India
Poem copyright © Priya Narayanan 2012, All rights reserved 

*
Click on the Anthology cover to download the entire book in pdf. You can find my poem on page 27
poetry award
indian poetry
stories for kids

Sharing my entry for the 2016 'Retell, Remix, Rejoice' contest held by Pratham Book's new platform Story Weaver, where the idea was to take a given set of illustrations and come up with a unique story by mixing them up. 

What the story is about
A hungry pup thinks the Moon is a juicy Rasgulla and wants to gobble it up for dessert. A hungry Moon wants nothing more than to devour the plump pup for breakfast. So who will eat whom up? Or is there another twist to this hungry tale? Read on to find out just that!

stories for kids

Okay now, every story I write does not get published and every contest I take part in doesn't declare me the winner . . .but that doesn't mean I cannot share these with you once in a while. So here's me sharing my entry for the 2015 'Retell, Remix, Rejoice' contest held by Pratham Books where the idea was to take a given set of illustrations and come up with a unique story by mixing them up. 

What the story is about
Yingli faces sure destruction due to the drought unknowingly brought about by human interference with nature. Nyago, a village elder, takes it upon himself to pray to the Spirit of the Forest to save his village and fellow villagers.


Share your Thoughts

Here's where you can share your thoughts on the stories/ poems from above. Also, do let me know if you'd like me to write on any specific subject in future- something you feel isn't addressed enough in stories meant for children. I'll be glad to take up the challenge :)