Tuesday, June 7, 2016


‘I make my best mistakes when I am trying to be myself. You, my darling, are number one. All my life, I have been so many things, the person someone wanted me to be, the person I thought I wanted to be, the person I planned to be.  With you, I was just me.’
-Letter from Nishta to Shaurya

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A to Z: Bindiya

Read Part 1: Akash

I have always been the observer in this class. I am not exactly quiet or anything but I have always felt like an older soul than the rest of my counterparts. I like to see what lies beneath the surface and it amuses me. Today is the first day of school and already there is tension, pushes and pulls in various relationships. I stop with analyzing though. I do not speak nor advice as I think it is not my place.

Zara walked into the room, shoulders thrown back. She dumped her bag in the seat in front of me and surveyed the classroom.I knew her, but not personally, just by reputation.She was one of the most popular kids in school and not in the traditional way. She was the public face, so to say, our own Public Relations Officer. She made all the speeches, held all the offices, was the teacher's and principal's favorite. Everyone saw her as a studious, serious person. But I had always seen something beyond that in her eyes. A need to break out of her image. To be herself which must have been something different.  I saw that more now. This might be an interesting year, our last year of school.

Her eyes had stopped on Akash, the new guy. That is how all of us will always remember him. Leaning over his desk, hair falling over his eyes, he was gazing out of the window. Then I saw an earthquake waiting to happen. Nina thumped her on the back shaking her out of her reverie. "Hi, How were your hols?"she shrieked. "Did you know the name of that pretty girl who introduced herself to Farida? I hope she wants to be friends with me." There she went again with one of her crushes. I looked for Zara's reaction, she must know that she would have to pick up all the pieces again. She did not betray any reaction, " No I missed the assembly, my bus was late." she said.

Then Nina pointed, "I know who that is, that's Akash by the window. The new transfer student from England. Isn't he hot?" she rattled on, unmindful of Zara's wince. Zara furiously shushed her," Stop being embarrassing,"and flounced out in the direction of the water cooler. Akash had been observing this furious discussion between Nina and Zara and got up to go out after a whispered conference with Sam. I saw Nina move her bag in the seat in front of mine. There she went again, I am sure Zara would be annoyed but wouldn't say anything.

I picked up my book and began to read hoping to get in a few minutes of relaxation before the Terror's class. Ten minutes later, I heard a "Hmph" from Nina and looked up to see Akash and Zara half running, half dragging each other into the class, doubling over with laughter. Now I was definitely predicting a higher intensity earthquake.

Zara turned to me and smiled and put out her hand," Hi, I'm Zara. You are Bindiya, right? This is Nina. That's Akash." This was met by a sweeping glance at me from Nina and a smile from Akash. I stifled a laugh. I was definitely going to like getting to know Zara. Nina, not so much. I had known her in kindergarten and she was not someone I wanted to be friends with. They turned back to their desks to sort out their seating arrangements. Nina plonked herself under the fan and though Zara wrinkled her nose a bit, she did not say anything. This was starting to look like something of a pattern.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Museum of Little Ladies- 6

Part 5 

My reluctant face and repeated misgivings did nothing to deter Paige's mother, nanny or Nadia. I went through the process with a sinking heart and the able assistance of Thomas. Thomas pulled faces, brought out props and did everything he could to put Paige at ease. Despite the great shots I got, I had a good mind to close down the studio and run away from this escalating nightmare. I worried about it so much that by the end of it, I had a tension headache. Thomas insisted I make my way home," I'll take care of the prints and Nadia will close up today." 

Lisa and I sat across from each other, over a very awkward silence. It had been a long and exhausting 3 months for her. Repeated interrogations, allegations and suspects, all leading to nothing. We sat with the album between us. We had been over the sequence of events. some 3 times now. Anne had gone to the park with her baby sitter. She had been playing on the swing set and had requested a snack since she was hungry. The baby sitter had gone to the car, having forgotten the snack bag, this being a regular occurrence with her and come back to find Anne gone. This all pointed to a planned abduction. Someone must have been following her around for a while, hoping on the off chance that something/ someone would be careless. I got a better idea of the location and a refresh of Anne's schedule from Lisa.

After a late evening snack, I sat down at my computer and opened up some files. My window display of Anne's photos and all the photographs in my portfolio and finally her schedule. I scanned through the photographs, especially those I took of her in the playground and adjacent to the swing set. I had used them in my montage for the window. Suddenly, I saw it, a shadow in the far right corner, a jacket and a shock of dark hair was all I could see when I zoomed in. Like all good portraits, the background was not really capable of being sharpened beyond a point. I called two people. My friend Sandra who uses photographs for forensic research and the second Jimmy, after I observed the shots of all the other girls which I used for my window displays. They all had a presence in the background and it was time to figure out who.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Museum of Little Ladies- Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I had to do something. The inaction was killing me, all my window displays ran through my head like a continuously playing commercial interspersed with the pamphlets I had found fluttering in the air  days later. Before Nadia's incredulous gaze, I took down my window display and gave her strict instructions to put up no window displays for the next few days. Great! Now even my co-worker thought I was crazy. "I am leaving now and I am going to be gone all afternoon. Do not book any appointments for tomorrow. I need some time off. I don't care if it is the holiday season. I need a break and I am going to take it." Nadia's mouth opened and closed like a goldfish as I effectively took care of all her arguments and swept through the door like a typhoon.

"What are you doing? If my eyes do not deceive me, you are trying to help on the case?" Jimmy dragged a chair out and slumped down into it. I jerked upright, shocked out of my skin. I tried to slam the book closed but he was too quick for me. He made a grab for it. It was my latest album, Britta's. It was almost like a baby book, filled with all her activities and her hobbies and her favorite toys. This was my second year of photographing her, but the first time I put up a window display. I had had an emotional morning. I first got out my telephone book and set up appointments with all the parents of the children who went missing. Some were downright furious to hear from me and others were too upset to talk. But the first of them all, Anne's mother,Lisa had agreed to meet me for lunch. I had spent the rest of the afternoon poring over all my old records and albums. I had found one thing- but I didn't even know if it was a lead- but every kidnapping was spaced almost equally- about 2-3 days after the window display. But, I needed to talk to Lisa, to see if I could find some commonalities, any information about what they noticed before Anne's abduction.

"Share."Jimmy said, narrowing his eyes at me. "You have something." I shook my head and picked up my books. "Just looking for window display ideas." I flung back as I walked out of the coffee shop. I remembered distinctly forbidding the booking of any new appointments, which is why I was taken aback to see the long sleek expensive looking car in front of my offices. I stormed in and before I could say anything, Nadia dragged me into the supply cupboard."You can't refuse. It's John Louis Watts III's daughter. They had a cancellation at that posh studio up in Brixton. They are willing to triple your hourly rate. Please say yes!"