Photograph 

“What did the egg say to the clown? You crack me up.”
 The crowd burst into laughter.
 A juggling tramp, ‘Tatters’ entertained his audience with his jokes and juggling tricks. Eyes and mouth painted white and an artificial grease painted beard.
After the show, Tatters went back to his green room to dress back as Steve. He opened the drawer for a wet wipe when he glanced at the photograph but today unlike the other days; he took it out to look at it. A blonde woman with high cheekbones was laughing at a clown’s performance in that photograph. 
Tatters couldn’t stop his tears washing away all his makeup as he looked at the photograph. Nostalgia hit him hard.
 It took him to the very day that picture was taken.

 Three years back, that morning, Steve had a terrible fight with his wife Laura. The conflict however was in Steve’s head, Laura offered to help and support his spouse but Steve had probably given up the hope and it burned him to think that Laura still had faith in him. 
 After the fight, Laura sat down with him at the edge of their living room which opened up to their garden. 
 “Can we go the carnival happening downtown today?”
 Steve looked at her with his tired and teary eyes,”Sure.”
 On their way to the carnival, no one spoke much. The carnival was filled with excited and energetic people, children gazing at the candy and toys stores with glittering eyes. The couple was the odd one out there. Laura was trying to pretend as if everything was okay and Steve didn’t like that. He couldn’t control and flipped out. 
 “I am tired of you thinking that everything will get back to what it was. Nothing is okay and you know it.” Steve barked at Laura.
 In between of this horrid scene, a photographer appeared from no where and asked Steve,”Sir, would you like a photograph? I can give you the picture in five minutes and it would only cost $2.” One couldn’t tell which poll hit that man that he asked such a question. 
Steve walked out of the carnival leaving her wife behind in the carnival.
Steve drove back home while Laura stayed there. Back home, Steve realized what he had done and he drove back to the place at once. He had left Laura four hours ago and he wondered what she were doing there alone. 
 When he got closer to his destination, he saw a gigantic traffic which included many fire extinguishing trucks and police cars. He was sweating with terror, couldn’t imagine what had happened. 
 He ran out of the traffic where he met a group of people who were talking about how bad the stampede in the carnival was and how many people were injured.
Steve couldn’t believe what he was listening. 
 He found Laura’s body lying near the roller coaster ride. Her eyes were wet and her head was bleeding. She held a photograph in her hand in which she was laughing at a clown’s performance.
 That photographer probably had clicked the picture of her. 
Bless him!
-Jasnoor Kaur

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Together 

(Tremendous activity in the cerebrum and another second, a pin drop silence.)

Can’t I just take a break? 
Break from? Endless gibberish and maverick 💭 thoughts? 
Maybe. 
No, you have only invited that. How can you take a break from me?
Why not? You are hell confusing. You register all my thoughts haphazardly and then bring up the wrong ones at wrong times! 
I am flexible in taking information in me. At least give me the authority to show them to you when and as I want to. 
Has anyone ever won in an argument with you? 
You got that right. 
Anyway. (a dramatic pause)

Promise, you will answer me honestly.
Shoot. 
I know that my life is in my own hands. But when I am determined to follow a plan to set everything right, why do you never let that happen? 
You never give me enough inspiration to follow it. 
But it’s very important to me. Can’t you cooperate with me?  
What will I get if I follow your plan?
Umm… 🤔 (silence for 7 seconds) 

Leave this. I’ll handle that on my own. You know, I have to leave my comfort zone for you. So that you can experience everything and develop yourself. Then why should I help you, I hate being in that position every time! 
Because I want you to overcome all your fears. See I am not that selfish after all. 
Yes! Fear! Thats also because of you only. 
(Sad) No one likes me. No one understands me. You are the only person, I am reliable on. You have made me. Sorry that I am a disappointment.
(Sadder) No! I am barmy. How can I blame you? Its all my fault. I apologize for being such a dork. 
It’s alright. Have you forgotten the parts when I make you happy by showing you the best memories? 
(She smiled) How can I forget all that. Those are the best times. You give me the infinite sometimes and you know what, I can base my whole life on that. 
That’s all you. I have put some extra effort though. 
(Giggles) Yes, you have. I understand you so well. You are wicked and clumsy in the most special way possible. 
Is that a complement? I have to think over it and display my views to you on this. 
No, please don’t overthink. You make me sick sometimes. You never get tired. Do you? 
Just because you never let me. We are in this together. (Winks);)

-Jasnoor Kaur 

Coming Home (Part2)

“The accident had a major impact on his brain. Blood clotting in brain is hazardous.”
“Doctor, is he safe now?” Joe asked him. 
“We tried for 3 long hours but couldn’t save him. I am very sorry.”
“Oh my god! What are you saying?” Nuri cried in disbelief. 
Joe kept on asking the doctor if nothing could be done as if the doctor hadn’t tried his level best or if it could be reversed now.
Nuri’s mobile rang. It was from work. She stared at her phone in amazement and guilt. 
“I am going home, Joe.” Nuri murmured. 
Joe didn’t hear her and she didn’t noticed that. She took her handbag but her eyes were still on the phone. She grabbed it and started walking towards the elevator. 
Near the elevator there was a dustbin. Nuri was still staring at the phone just before she threw it in the dustbin. 
She drove home. 
Unbuttoning her over coat, Nuri kept the heels in the shoe rack and the handbag on the chair and went to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. 
“Steph, I am home.” She cried silently, walking into her room. 
“I told you that we will talk in the evening when your head is clear.”
“Speak now.” She was speaking to the room,

“Is it about my w….work?” Her voice cracked. 
“No! No! No! Talk to me, Steph. You can’t just go without telling me what was bothering you.” Nuri was wailing loudly. “You are the most important person to me, work is nothing, nothing. Please speak something, please.”
“This is not fair. We were supposed to talk.”
“I am all here stephen.” 
She sat silently. Her whole body was silent now. Just looking at the place where he stood the last time, when he was talking to her in the morning. 
She could obviously give anything now to go back to the morning when she didn’t have enough time to talk to him. Anything. 
“Come home, Steph.” Joe heard Nuri saying this that night and many more to come. 
-Jasnoor Kaur 

Coming Home (Part 1)

Nuri lived in a New York apartment with her husband Stephen Green and brother in law Joe Green. Nuri came from India in the search of a dream job and indeed she got a house, love of her life and her dream job. 
People started bustling early morning in Green’s apartment. With a test tube containing a green liquid and a spatula with iron fillings, Joe was running some chemical experiments before finally leaving for the lab. Nuri was getting ready to manage her post of the content head for the second most read magazine in New York. Stephen was also getting ready for the office. Out of all, Stephen seemed a bit off colour today. 
“So Chinese for dinner, Steph?” Nuri asked while combing her knee length hair. 
“I will eat at the office. You don’t bother.” 
“Eating dinner is not something I would be bothered about.” She chuckled. 
“This joking of yours is annoying. Everything is not always funny and happy.” 
“Is everything all right?” She asked in a bit concerned voice now. 
“Oh! Thanks for noticing. Its just that.” Nuri’s phone beeped and she at once seized it to look at the message. 
Noticing that Stephen had stopped, she said,” Work. Andrew’s saying something has come up. Anyway you were saying?” 
“Nothing. Go to work and don’t waste your time here.” Stephen said in an annoyed tone. 
“What’s your problem?” 
“Yes right. I am the problem in this case.”
“See Steph, talk to me when you are quiet and calm. I fail to understand you presently so lets just talk in the evening and you are calm.”
Stephen left and Nuri thought that it’s just a mood swing. 
Nuri and Andrew were having coffee in Andrew’s office when Andrew mentioned about the elephant in the room. 
“Nuri, have you heard that Melinda Jones is now working for The Daily Nugget.”
“Oh! That bitch. How could she? I was expecting something like that to happen when my assistant Melissa told me that Melinda is in contact with the chief editor of The Daily Nugget.”
“Now we need some other professional writer to fill in Jone’s column.”
“I think Andrew that my interns are perfect for the job.”
“Are you kidding me? They are not experienced at all to handle such an important column.”
“We will change the column a bit and I think today’s youngsters only know what is trending so they are perfect for the column.” 
“Okay. Handle it your way then.”
Nuri took her coffee and her cell and went to the interns who were waiting for her in the conference room.
“I have a special job for you guys. Melinda Jones has left the magazine, so you guys have to get me an interesting article for the column. I will choose the best five articles. It can be anything so let your minds run wild. Youngsters should be able to relate to your articles. But mind you no slangs or curses in my magazine.”
Everyone laughed. 

Just then Nuri’s mobile rang. 
“Hello.”
“Is this Nuri Green?”
“Yes.”
“Maam, I am Duncan from the New York police department. Your husband Stephen Green met with an accident on the Broadway street. Please reach the City hospital as soon as possible.”
Nuri couldn’t believe what she just heard. 

Was it intentional? Because of the fight? 

No that’s rubbish! That wasn’t a fight and I didn’t even get what the fight was about. How bad could it be? 
All these thoughts were storming her head while she was rushing for the hospital. She tried ringing Joe but he was on another call. 
She reached the hospital and Duncan, the police officer on phone, ushered her to the waiting area where Joe was talking to a constable, asking him how did it happen. 
“Nuri, he had a terrible accident. He was crossing the road without noticing and that car… out of nowhere….”
Nuri fell on the sofa without saying anything.
“What does the doctor say?” She asked Joe.
“Haven’t met them but you don’t worry, doctors here are best at their job, everything will be alright.”
They waited for 3 hours and no doctor or anyone approached them expect the police officer Duncan. 
Finally the doctor came and Joe rushed to him. 

People say the powerful always wins. You have to be powerful to face this world because weak stands nowhere. Maybe that’s why women need someone powerful to survive in this world. It can be their father or brother or boyfriend or husband. Any male in their life will do provided that man himself doesn’t want to use his power on those women. 

Both the genders coexist from the beginning but there is still an uncanny gap between them. Girls are expected to be mature at the age of fifteen but boys can live with the knack of irresponsibility forever because women are there to do all the understanding and compromising. I think in the beginning of mankind, women must have done something terrible that’s why till now they are making up for it. Can there be any other reason? Please write in the comments if you think there is.

Men are always given the right to judge a female from her demeanor or if she is able to manage her house properly. The thing that amazes me the most is that women themselves have accepted this way of living and they are passing it on to their daughters, telling them that this is how things work on our Earth. 
Women have accepted that men will be men so we should be cautious enough from letting them harm us in any way. I think that makes sense, if you can’t stop others then better watch yourself. But if it is not the cause then how can it be the remedy? If it is really a remedy, tell me, I am definitely up for it. 
-Jasnoor Kaur 

Faith 

Ruh came and sat at the breakfast table looking grim and pale just like any other morning. 

“Why don’t you take rest, Ruh?” Asked her mother making an omelette for her daughter.
“I am fine mom. Bring me some food please, I got to leave in 50 minutes.”
“This is not an answer to my question. This way you will get sick darling.” 
“Ya, okay. I will take care. Now please hurry.”
Ruh gulped all the food and ran to her room to get tidy and leave for work. 

Ruh had been toiling for a project for one and a half months. It was very important to her, her only opportunity to prove herself at the workplace. 
After 15 minutes, clatter at the staircase was heard and Ruh came in hurry to bid adieu to her mom before leaving for work. 
“Before stepping out, pray in front of God, asking for happiness and health.”
“I am late, I will do that on my way.”
“God is the only one who will make you successful, girl.”
And before Ruh’s mother finished her sentence, Ruh was out in the driveway. 

 

She sat in her car and tuned in her favorites in pop. On her way, she appreciated the bright sunny day, smiled at the twins who were walking to the school with their mother. 

She was driving just when she saw an old lady waiting road side to cross the road. She plummeted the speed of her SUV and put it to a stop for the lady to cross. The old lady looked at Ruh with glittering eyes. That probably made her day. 
Ruh worked very hard all day on her project as just a week was left in its launch.  
She came home late in the evening exhausted but when she saw her mother who was in the kitchen preparing Ruh’s favorite dessert; phirni, all her tension and tiredness flushed. 
She helped her mother in setting dinner on the table and talked to her about what all had happened the whole day. Thats when her mother brought up the conversation. 
“Ruh, from now pray thrice a day till your project launch.”
“Mom, thats bullshit. Like, what sense does it make.”
“You are never ever going to say this again. I feel that you are a non believer but I wont let you be one. You don’t know his powers yet.”
“Mom, I only focus on my powers.” 
Her mother was boiling with rage now. 
“You will cry and run to God then when you will fail. I am warning you. His support is all you need.” 
Ruh didn’t want to fight with her so she didn’t say anything further. 

But Ruh was hurt. She believed in the good and doing good but all this religious monopoly over the good beleaguered her mind. 
After a week, it was finally the day Ruh had been waiting for. She was very nervous and fearful. 
Unfortunately, it went downhill. Her project couldn’t attract much sponsors and they were forced to shut down the project. 
Ruh was very disturbed after this. She went home and told her mother. 
“This was ought to happen because you had no faith in the lord.”

 

Ruh smiled calmly and uttered, “Mom, it is written in our holy book that ups and downs are a part of life, you shouldn’t give up but keep moving on. I am disappointed now but I will not stop working on my project till I successfully launch it.” 
After making some changes in the marketing strategies of the project, Ruh successfully launched it and made her mother proud. 
-Jasnoor Kaur 

  1.  

Let me try 

Let me try to at least give it a shotHowever difficult it may seem, 

to just think it’s easy.
Let me try to channel my fears,

To convert my shortcomings to a driving force.
Let me try to stay positive about everything, 

Kindly be less critical and warmer. 
Let me try to feel differently; to think differently, 

I may be ignoring the inescapable pain

but for once let me believe it.
Let me try to not admit that I have lost, 

not that I actually have,

try to be my sunshine that I have always desired.
I am learning each day, 

trying to be grateful for everything, even myself.
At least allow me to bare my potential 

and let me witness what they call is “following your heart”. 
– Jasnoor Kaur 

Inabilities 

She was constantly looking at her lap for hours now, as if urging her legs to repair themselves. Waiting for some magical spell to run through her spine, down her hip and to her feet making her walk again instantly. 
“Mother, we are going to Chandni Chowk. We have to do some shopping for Diwali. We will be back soon.”
“Very well.”
“Do you need something?”
“Yes. I need some diyas. The red and golden ones.”
“Okay. Sure.”

 

“Umm mm Jay?”
“Ya?”
“Can I go with you guys?”
“Yes but it will be very crowded, how will you be able to walk that much?”
“I will just sit in the car while you guys do the shopping.”
She went with them and Jay left her mother in the car with the window to her side down as she asked. She didn’t want to sit in a closed sedan with the AC on. 
She kept looking at the people going in all the directions; busy shopping or doing their work. The market was so jam packed with shops that a static person could not count the number of shops on one side of the street. 
The whole place was glittering with mirror hangings, strings of bulbs, electric diyas and new innovative decorative items ,she was unfamiliar with. She was watching all this and she was elated. 
For a moment, she forgot how old and weak she was. The sad reality of her fading health skipped her mind.

 She was in a whole new world of nostalgia ,remembering her visits to Chandni Chowk when she was young.Passing through narrow lanes with a dozen bags in each hand and still searching shops for more. So tired to even put a step forward but end up walking all the way to the other end of the market to eat jalebis. 
The old lady started weeping as she was so much missing her youthful days. She peaked out of the window and saw a puppy near her vehicle, playing with a broken spherical wooden frame which must had been a decorative light for the festival. 
That dog didn’t have a hind leg and one of his fore leg was bandaged. The dog looked so gay, the old lady could tell that the dog was actually missing out on nothing despite of his inabilities. 

She cried even harder. 
She finally stopped weeping as she saw her son and his wife coming towards the car. 
“Mom, we are back. We got your diyas. Also, Meenal bought you rangoli colours.” Jay said. 
“Jay, I want to go to the jalebi shop.”
“Okay. We will take the car there.”
“No, I will walk. You both stay in car.”
“Mom, let me come with you. You wont be able to go by yourself.” Meenal said.
“I want to walk by myself. Don’t worry, I will be fine.”
“But mother?”
“Dear, my inabilities only make my journey more celebrated and worthwhile.” 
She then stepped out of the car with her stick, making her way carefully through the crowd. 

Jay and Meenal could clearly see that their mother was the most cheerful person on the street, with her face glowing like diwali diyas. 

-Jasnoor Kaur 

Negatives 

Dean tried once again but fell.
He was filled with anguish and dirt. His throat was dry and limbs hurting.
“One last try”
He got up from the ground and cleaned his hands from the back of his knickers. He clutched the trunk of the tree tightly and started climbing it.
His feet froze and he fell again. 
“It is never going happen, Dean. You just do the normal.” he said to himself.
He dressed up and went to school.
During games period, Dean went out to play in the ground with his best buddies, Jo and Luke.
“Guys, how can you both climb a tree just perfectly?” Dean asked
Both Jo and Luke laughed as if Dean had cracked a joke.
“It’s just climbing a tree Dean. If you have a pair of hands and legs, you can do it just perfectly.” Jo giggled. 
“Yeah. Whatever.”
“Please, both of you just stop these meaningless talks and help me in forming my revenge plan for Ted. We will show that boy, what it feels like to insult Luke Dursley.” Luke said. 
“Have you gone mad, Luke? Don’t act in haste, Ted was your good friend, least you can do is not talk to him until he realizes that he was wrong. He will surely come to you, once he realizes his mistake.” suggested Dean.
School was over and no one talked about the revenge plan any more. 
Dean was in his room which was actually an attic but well furnished. It consisted of a lot of books piled up on the floor neatly and posters of FC Barcelona squad on the wall. Dean loved football and he played well too. 
He was sad that day because he couldn’t climb a tree.
Till night, he was worse. This feeling that he couldn’t do something so easy, made him feel hollow.
It was such a small thing but another failure for Dean. 
Next morning, the boy didn’t want to go to the school. He felt like lying down and not thinking about his negatives but school’s playground would remind him of that climbing thing again.
He took off for two days and didn’t eat or talk properly too. His mom got afraid and thought of calling his friends over so that they could ask him about his problem.
When Luke and Jo came by, Dean was depressed.
Dean didn’t feel like talking but after much persuasion and support, he spoke it out loud.
“I am good at nothing. I can’t even climb a tree. Yes! I can’t. Leave alone being uncomfortable in front of strangers, not being able to break the rules. I am not as funny and cool as you guys are. I don’t even know how to talk to girls.”
“Ok, these are the things you can’t do but what about the things you can?” Jo asked.
“That list doesn’t exist bro.” Dean said.
“It sure does. Dean, today because of you , I didn’t lose a dear friend, Ted. If it were for me, that guy would hate me but I did as you said and he did come back to me and said sorry for his behavior and I also said sorry.” Luke cried.
“Seriously? I thought you would get your revenge at any cost?” 
“I would have done that buddy because of my ego but you see things clearer and you always act strong and humble. But I guess, I was wrong. You can’t even see your positives clearly. All you can see is ‘I am bad at this and worst at that’.”
“Dean, you bear the qualities, people wish they could have had. You always have a scope of improving where you lack or learning from your failures but never just focus on them so much that you forget that you are the Messi of your positives.” Jo concluded.
Dean laughed. 

-Jasnoor Kaur 

Chains 

Like any other regular morning, I got up late and dressed up in haste. I am usually dropped to college by my father. On the way, he casually asked me, “Why is this crop top so short?”
And I answered,” No dad, it’s not.”
And he said,” Don’t wear such kind of clothes.”
Silence.
We have reached the destination and then something unusual happened.
My dad held a chain in his hand. He tied my hands with it. I was so astonished as to what is happening that I couldn’t speak and he left me on the road with my hands tied.
I unchained myself quickly and went to the college.
I had apparently forgotten about the chain incident.
College is fun. Eating. Talking. Repeating.  
A very dear friend of mine was not her usual today. I asked her a couple of times but she didn’t reply.
After my repeatedly irritating her, she whispered, “periods.”
“Ok, it must be period pain then.”
She watched me in amazement.” Girl, watch your pitch.”
I didn’t notice the pitch of my voice because I never do. But I didn’t say anything further.
After a few minutes, she stood up and went to loo. But before that she tied my hands with a chain. Effing Hell. How can anybody tie my hands without my consent?
I untied myself.
In the evening, a friend visited me. He had to borrow some books. After he went back, my mom entered my room with a “we need to talk “look on her face.
“You are not supposed to call boys at your home.”
“Mom, he needed those books.”
“I don’t want to fight. You want to make this home a warzone but I want peace here. Please.”
I couldn’t understand. I wanted to protest but withdrew because I generally have no energy left in my body when it comes to explaining stuff.
She began to walk towards the door but before that, yes you guessed right, she chained my hands. I shouted this time and didn’t let her chain my hands. I then stormed out of my room.
A voice awakened me.
Hush. It was just a dream. I noticed my wrists. No chains. Thank god.
I folded the sheets and went to fetch the newspaper.
A realization suddenly came over me that I never unchained myself in reality.