The Cleaving

Written for Fireblossom's Friday Challenge on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

For this Fireblossom's Friday challenge, one had to write a poem about a crack, fissure, rupture, split, or breaking point.

I pressed you to the ground
You tried to get away
Immobile but spirited
As you rolled from side to side

I pinned you tighter
And made my first strike
To the base of your skull
A sharp crack rended the air

You moaned but yielded
And gave up your fight
Energy coursed through my nerves
In eager anticipation

My mouth watered at the prospect
Of consuming you from the inside out
To drink of your nectar
And sink my teeth into your tender flesh

I raised my hand again
And this time turbid water flowed
I struck again, frenzied now
And you finally broke

You clove open in perfect halves
Your white beauty exposed
The kids shrieked in delight, clapped their hands
And bit into sweet coconut!

Dire Straights

For years, I have been challenging shampoo companies and beauty-parlours to tame my unbelievably curly hair. I did not want straight hair, only hair that would let a comb run all the way through, instead of absorbing half its teeth and swallowing the spine. I have lost count of the number of combs and brushes that I've lost in the wilderness that is my hair.

The Bermuda Tangle - Doom of the Hairbrush

Once, when I went to get a long overdue haircut, the chap who was snipping my locks offered a free post-haircut blow-dry. I think the sight of my hair challenged his inner artist, and he resolved to summit his Everest by conquering my head. I agreed happily since I believed that anything coming my way, for which I did not have to pay, would make my day.

The Artist at work
After the initial tug-of-war between my hair and his hairbrush, I felt progress was being made. Feeling particularly lazy and lulled by the air-conditioner on a hot summer day, I fell asleep, perhaps unwisely, since a sharp object was in operation dangerously close to my ears.

I woke with a start when the hairdresser whipped off the cloth tied around my neck, almost strangling me in the process. When I finally managed to breathe again and looked up at the mirror, I almost choked again. I was the proud, if bewildered, owner of silky straight hair. Apparently, the blow-dry was responsible for the transformation that I hitherto believed was impossible.

After blow-dry

I tipped the chap generously (being still in shock) and made my way out, with a new spring in my step. It took all of five minutes and a gentle breeze to restore my hair to its former riotous glory, and my now-short hair clustered around my head in a tight Afro. It refused to submit to the confines of a hastily produced rubber-band, and a scarf bought on-the-spot served only to accentuate the puffiness of my hair-don't.

5 minutes after blow-dry

That was the first and last time I blow-dried my hair. In fact, I think that was the last time I went for a haircut,  since the frightening spectacle of a cloud of black cotton candy on my head scared the living daylights out of me and about a hundred other people who were witness to the spectacle as I ran down the road in search of an auto-rickshaw.


I have had mixed results with hair-care products. Some have resulted in my hair becoming even frizzier than before, and others have made my hair limp and lifeless.

When Sunsilk offered to send a free sample of its Perfect Straight shampoo/conditioner, with the claim that my hair would dry straight, I applied to receive one, with doubts of success (of it being an effective straightener, that is. I did not doubt that the sample would arrive).

The recent deluge of hair-care product tryouts ensured that I was already busy getting rid of split-ends and trying out ramp-ready hairstyles on my curly hair while waiting for my Sunsilk sample to arrive.

I think I've tried all of these in the past few weeks

It was finally delivered two weeks ago. Since I decided to let my hair recover from the recent experiments, I didn't get the opportunity to try out the efficacy of the Sunsilk Perfect Straight shampoo until yesterday.

I started with an extreme case of curls that were nearly impossible to cure. To be honest, it did not turn my hair perfectly straight. My hair still curved down my back like snakes, but now it flowed like contented, well-fed, ponderous snakes instead of the frenzied, over-crazed wrigglers of the pre-Sunsilk era.

Even so, I was quite impressed with the result. It turned my hair from a mass of wiry, poufy cotton to eminently manageable, if slightly wavy, locks. I could see my hairbrush shedding tears of joy as it emerged unscathed through the length and depth of my freshly dried hair.

I also discovered to my surprise, that my hair was now nearly a foot longer than it was before I used the shampoo, due to the straightening. Looking Rapunzel-like all of a sudden even turned my husband into Prince Charming for the evening.

It has been a day, and my hair has retained its manners. I can rest happy in the knowledge that the next time I want my hair to turn well-behaved, or instantly longer, Sunsilk Perfect Straight will be my go-to product!

Since this shampoo/conditioner was tested on the toughest, most stubborn, curliest and frizziest hair possible with highly positive results, I am confident that on more pliant hair, it will work like a charm.

To summarize my findings -

Effective curl management and Instant hair lengthening

Final Verdict - Sunsilk Perfect Straight Shampoo is definitely for those in dire straights...err...straits.

This post has been written for Sunsilk Perfect Straight on

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A Ramp Walk To Remember
Beautiful Ends : 55-Fiction
The Softest Touch

A Ramp Walk to Remember

"Rita di, can't anything be done?" I wailed, close to tears. It was already a highly stressful day for me, what with the main event being just a few hours away. All my dreams and aspirations were tied to this one, single ramp walk. Unfortunately, my hair wasn't ready to be tied to anything.

My hair after a wash
"Madam ji, with hair like yours, there is very little to be done in such little time. If only you had started coming for regular treatment sessions six months ago, today things would have been different", said the hair-dresser with a frown on her face, chiding my lackadaisical attitude towards my unmanageable hair, at the same time mourning the loss of six-months' worth of income from a self-promoted hair treatment (which cost a fortune that would have set many a small country free of debt).

"My hair has always been curly, and I like it this way. It is one of the things that makes me, Me. I don't want to straighten it and become someone else. Especially not today." All eyes would be on me and I most certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone else. The rest of my life depended on today being a success.

"Okay,okay. No need to get so emotional. It's just hair. Let me see." said Rita, impatiently swatting away my identity-crisis. 

A few pumps of creamy hair product was worked into my unruly hair. Hair spray was liberally used to both control my hair and kill the mosquitos buzzing around my head

Praying for the best

What if I pin it all on one side into a side-sweep?" said Rita, swiftly twisting my hair in sections and securing them with bobby pins.

I looked at myself in the mirror. 

How I really looked
How I hoped I'd look

Startled by the effect, both Rita and I were stunned into silence for a few seconds.

"Maybe an Athena braid?" she suggested shakily,  ripping out the bobby pins from my hair as fast as she could, releasing my hair into all its inglorious messiness. We both heaved a sigh of relief when the side-sweep was dismantled.

Once again, Rita pumped out hair-gel with much vigour and sprayed with enthusiasm. My hair was parted into sections. Elaborate combing, intricate twisting and braiding, and a final flourish of hair-spray "shagun ke liye" (for good luck).

We once again examined the result, this time better prepared for what we might have to face.

Final Result
Rita's objective

Rita sat down, beaten and dis-spirited. I shed copious tears, covered my head in a towel and declared that to show my hair to the world would most likely be a human-rights violation.

I need to buy a bonnet!

That was when my mother entered the picture.

"Good Lord! Aren't you ready yet? We're set to leave in ten minutes. You haven't even worn your saree properly. And what's with the towel on your head? Rita, why are you sitting there, gaping at me like a dead fish?"

"Amma", I wept, "My hair is a disaster. Nothing works on me. I'm finished. I'll have to walk in front of all those people, with my hair looking like it was hit by a cyclone."

"Take some deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Now, stop flapping about like a distressed duck and sit down for a minute. Rita, try a twisted updo." Amma was brisk and efficient, and her energy infused new life into the hitherto deflated Rita.

With a determined look on her face, Rita prepared for the last siege. Hair products were pumped out one last time. The hairspray had killed more mosquitos today than an entire box of kachua coils.

My mother set my saree right. The last safety pin was locked into place.

Rita and I steeled ourselves for one final look at the mirror. It was make or break time.

How I ended up looking
What we were prepared for

I had finally found my look. 

Thirty minutes later, I walked down the aisle towards where the love of my life was standing, waiting for me to become his wife. As we stood together, he tucked a stray strand behind my ear, and whispered, "I love what you've done with your hair."

And this was the story of the most important ramp-walk of my life. 


NOTE: The last two images above are my personal photos and are not to be used by anyone else. The remaining images are from Google and copyright to their respective owners.

Pick your favourite ramp ready hairstyle on the TRESemm√© India Youtube channel. Written for TRESemme Ramp-Ready Hair in collaboration with

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Botanical Musings : Haiku

The following phrases were given by De Jackson as part of the Botanical Wordlist Challenge on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. 
  • sight-seeing in a daisy 
  • the silent roar of the vast 
  • stealing the sun 
  • the story of the grasses
  • a strong, bent contrivance 
  • flowers that will not wait for the snow
  • employ the wind
I decided to attempt my first set of Haiku (3-line verses) using the above phrases. I will forgo the syllabic restrictions to accommodate the phrases (as well as for convenience. I can't count syllables to save my life!).

Dew drop lenses
Sight-seeing in a daisy
Universes revealed

The silent roar of the vast
yellow field deafens;
Sunflowers stealing the sun

To hear tell of
the story of the grasses
Employ the wind

Bamboo dances in wind
A strong, bent contrivance;
Fluidly unbreakable

Impatient beauty
Flowers that will not wait
for the snow to melt

Reposted for Open Link Monday on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

Executive Decisions : 55-Fiction

This post was chosen as a BlogAdda WOW Top Post.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Write Over the Weekend theme for Mar 15, 2013-
Start your post with ‘A young executive was nervously biting her nails.’

The following is actually 47-Fiction, since the first eight words are fixed!


A young executive was nervously biting her nails.

“Boss, what if someone finds out?”

“No one will. Ever”

She moved slowly towards him. He wet his lips in anticipation.

White lace fell to the ground. Heartbeats rose.

He held the soft flesh in his hands, moaning with pleasure.

“Screw cholesterol! I'd die for Butter Chicken!”



A young executive was nervously biting her nails.

The presentation was due in ten minutes.

She Googled fervently, praying for something to put on the slides.

She clicked a link, and almost cried. A presentation she could use practically word for word.

Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.

“Great presentation” said the client. “It was my MBA internship report.”



A young executive was nervously biting her nails.

Her appraisal was due today.

“Wonder what my report’s going to be”, she typed into the office chat application.

“Sure it’ll be great”

“Do you think Grouchy knows about the Simla trip aka ‘sick leave’?”

“He does now. You should QC* your chat recipients” typed the Boss.

*QC = Quality Control : A term popularly used to refer to the process of checking one's work before final submission/execution.


Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Written for Mary's Mixed Bag Challenge set this week by Kerry on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

Imagine you hold a bag which contains two objects: one which can heal and one which can harm. Only you may identify these two objects through touch, texture, shape-recognition and imaginative exploration. Which object would you withdraw first? Does the good out-weigh the bad, or is harm something that cannot be prevented? Use one of these two items as the starting point of your poem and move towards the other in conclusion.

The dual nature of the bag's contents immediately drew my mind towards the nature of abuse in relationships. The captivating cycle of tender love and frightening abuse, the simultaneous arousal and loathing, and the addictive nature of this duality, is something that is seldom discussed in open forums in India. 

This is my dedication to victims and survivors of spousal/relationship abuse.

I hold in my hand, a box that has within it
The basis of my marriage, the reason for my existence
It holds in its unseen depths, every year, every minute
A red heart of love, and a black heart of violence

I count the endless days I lie
Bleeding, beaten black and blue
And the eternity of sublime
Bliss, with love in all its hues

Alternating between the caress and the whack
I feel around, not knowing which to choose
Should I stay because I love him, and he loves me back
Or do I run away before the monster is again set loose?

Sometimes the pain is ecstasy, and gentle kisses hurt
Either way it's better than being ignored and left untouched
Or am I suddenly sick, and can't tell gold from dirt
My medicine is his tenderness, his whiplash my crutch

I pick his heart of violence, and fill my own
With a smidgen of courage, de-addiction my aim
I carry his heart of love, as I walk my path alone
The memories will keep me warm as my life I finally claim.

Beautiful Ends : 55-Fiction

For mothers

“You look beautiful”

“Stop it, Ma. I look like a freak. I miss my long hair.”

“My best memory is the soft touch of your hair against my face, the first time I held you. But I cherish this even more.”

“What? My bald head?”

“The brave, beautiful head of my cancer-fighting daughter, who won!”


For daughters

Lata held her long, thick hair in her hands. She fondly combed it, unravelled the knots, braided it and put flowers in it.

Next morning, she went to the barbershop and sold her hair. Then bought medicines for her ailing mother.

As her mother fondled her cropped head, she smiled. Hair grows back. Mothers don’t.


For sisters

“Do you remember how you used to comb my hair after Ma died?” asked Leena, with tears in her eyes.  

Meena stared vacantly at the ceiling with comatose eyes.

Leena gently washed and dried Meena’s hair, brushing it to a shine. 

She felt a tug on her hand. Meena smiled at her, awake at last.


For friends

On the last day of school, Amita and Sheetal were heartbroken.

“I’m going to miss you so much”, they both cried, hugging each other.

Twenty years later, Amita found a photo of Sheetal braiding her hair.

“I wonder if she remembers me?”

Across the country, Sheetal held the same photo in her hands, and smiled.

Images courtesy Google. Copyright belongs to respective owners.

This post is part of the Beautiful Ends to Your Beautiful Braids! Contest on, in collaboration with Dove Split Ends Rescue System.

Vote for it here

You might also like my other entry : The Softest Touch

Let me grow into myself

Written for the Sunday Mini-Challenge on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

For this week's challenge, Grace (aka Heaven) asked us to write a 14-line poem using food imagery to express our feelings.

This being school exam season in India, I dedicate this to children who bear the load of their parents' expectations and imposed dreams.

I'm growing still, ripening daily
Your seeds have borne their fruit in me
Luscious ideas flow like juice through my veins
My dreams are golden, fresh and syrupy

Bite into me and you'll be surprised
By my taste, my crunch, the colour of my inside
They may not be the same as yours
Or what you expect, or what you decide

They are mine, whether bitter or sweet
And even if our tastes don't meet
I hope you'll let me grow into myself
Not the fruit you want me to be

Let me be a square apple, with blue peel and green offshoot
Don't mould me to your dreams, into perfect glass fruit

The Softest Touch

Dove Beautiful Ends to your Beautiful Braids! IndiBlogger Contest
This post was a runner-up in the Dove-Indiblogger "Beautiful Ends To Your Beautiful Braids" Contest.

The Pincushion

I was a twelve year old girl, and had just started Class 8. It was that precarious age when I was not quite a teenager, and no longer part of the kiddie crowd. And appearances were just starting to matter.

"Amma, pull it tighter... tighter... tighter", I whined as my mother braided my long, thick, stubbornly curly hair into two plaits running down my back. 

"Any tighter that this, and I'll be pulling your hair out by the handfulls", Amma chuckled.

Of course, her giggle made me even more irritated. Once she was done tying the braids up with ribbons, I slid eight hairpins into my head just to hold it all tighter. Somehow I had got the notion that it was important that not a single hair should be out of place.

Amma nicknamed me "The Pincushion" because my head was bristling with hairpins. But I was happy, because my hair was perfectly braided, my plaits were long and thick, and they brushed softly against my back with every step I took.

This was a ritual every morning at the breakfast table, right before the school bus arrived. I would give Amma a quick kiss and my sister and I would run down to the bus-stop.

The Softest Touch

One day, my grandmother arrived to spend a few weeks with us. We adored Paati ('Grandma' in Tamil). She pampered us to bits. She cooked divinely, told the most wonderful stories and she had the softest, gentlest touch. Every night, she would put my head in her lap, and caress my head tenderly with her cool, loving hand. Her touch was enough to send me on a peaceful trip to dreamland.

One morning, I was sitting at the breakfast table, gulping down my cornflakes and waiting impatiently for Amma to do my hair. Instead, I felt Paati's soft hands on my head. I turned back and found Paati holding a comb, eager to braid my hair.

Now, before judging me, remember I was a twelve-year-old, and like all children that age, I was a bit of a pompous ass. I knew right then that it was going to be a difficult morning for everyone. Paati slowly ran the comb through my hair, gently untangling the knots with her fingers, brushing the hair-ends meticulously to a shine. And she hadn't even started braiding my hair yet.

I tapped my foot impatiently, and Paati must have sensed my barely-subdued irritation. "What happened? Am I pulling your hair? Does it hurt?"

"No Paati. It's just that you're a bit slow and the bus will be coming any time now."

"Oh, okay... I'll go as fast as I can then." She parted my hair in two, and started braiding one section. It was exactly as I feared. Too loose.

"Tighter, Paati, tighter". 


"Tiiiiiggggghhhhtttteeerrrr" I whined, just short of letting my irritation show in my voice.

"I'm trying, kanna".

"Maybe Amma should do it today, and when I come back from school, you can redo it for me."

Paati looked disappointed. But she still smiled and patted my head. "Sure thing. Let me get your Amma."

Amma came and she did not look pleased. She quickly did my hair, pulling a little tighter than usual, finished it with a sarcastic "Tight enough for you?" and left before I could kiss her goodbye.

I felt guilty. I knew I'd probably hurt Paati's feelings. I resolved to make it up to her in the evening after school. She loved oiling my hair, and even though I hated oil on my head, I'd do it for her.

Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gum

School is a difficult place for a kid at times. Knowingly or unknowingly, children can be very cruel to each other. It so happened that this one particular girl and her clique of show-offs were jealous of my long, thick hair. And that day, they decided to put their evil plan into action. 

One of them walked behind me on the way back from morning assembly. At one point, she shoved me against a wall. I was scared of that group, they were bullies and their taunts hurt. So I didn't say anything, As I tried to resume walking, I found to my horror that one braid was stuck to the wall. Chewing gum.

I cried and cried when my teacher had to cut part of my plait off to free my hair. It was a sordid mixture of embarrassment, shame, helpless rage and unbelievable sadness. I knew I'd have to cut my hair short now.

When I came home that evening from my trip to the salon, everyone was even kinder to me than usual. My sister let me have the first choice of all snacks and food, Amma gave me an extra tight hug, Appa let me help him with the Daily Crossword and Paati made my favourite dish for dinner.

That night, I cried with my head on Paati's lap. She didn't say a word, just caressed my freshly cut, short hair. Bit by bit, I calmed down. Her soft, gentle touch worked its magic again.

Grandma Knows Best

The next few days, I was doused in misery. I was still hurting from the humilation of having my hair chopped in full view of my classmates, and I missed having my plaits brush reassuringly against my back when I walked.

Paati sat me down and spoke to me one day. "Kanna, you cannot stay down like this. Your hair will grow back, I'll make sure of it. But you are growing up too, my dear, and you will face many more ups and downs in life. You must learn how to put your sad times behind you and create happiness for yourself. Know this always, your family will always be with you. We will love you with short hair, long hair, even no hair if you choose to shave your head some day. But what you really need to do is love yourself."

Paati put me on a strict hair care regimen. Regular oiling, special herbal concoctions for washing and conditioning, and gentle brushing to detangle my hair and keep it soft and shiny. Paati would meticulously massage my scalp with her soft fingers, comb my hair patiently and stroke my head lovingly.

Every morning, it would be Paati, not Amma, who would brush my hair to a blinding shine before school. She took it upon herself to make sure the bullies didn't get a single chance to gloat about my hair.

Meanwhile, with Paati's sage advice, I learnt to stand up to the mean girls. I even took to defending other classmates who were being tormented by them.  Very soon, I found out that when opposed, they had no legs to stand on and backed off quickly. With many others speaking out against them, the leader of the group was suspended and she changed schools. The other mean girls disbanded quietly.

In a very short time, my hair was starting to grow visibly longer. By the time Paati's visit came to an end, I was able to braid my hair again, albeit in two very short plaits.

By continuing with her regimen, it wasn't long before my tresses reached their previous length, and were even more thick and soft than before. Once again, I was comforted by the soothing sweep of my braids against my back.

Present Day

Paati passed away some years ago, but her words and wisdom have stayed on with me. And the caress of my braid-ends against my skin remind me of her loving touch.

In my busy life today, I don't have the time to pamper my hair the way Paati used to, or the expertise to create her homemade shampoo. Thankfully, there are Hair Rescue Systems to take care of my hair for me.

And Paati took care of my growing-up for me. "What you really need to do is love yourself."

This post is part of the Beautiful Ends to Your Beautiful Braids! Contest on, in collaboration with Dove Split Ends Rescue System.

Vote for it here

Images from Google. Copyrights belong to their original owners.

You might also like my other entry : Beautiful Ends (55-Fiction)

The Boy Who Lived

This post won the Silver Batom in the Blog-a-Ton 37. Results can be found here

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 37; the thirty-seventh edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "Truth is stranger than fiction"

Images from Google. Copyrights belong to respective owners.

Lisa was an unassuming lady. Petite, plain-looking. And yet, she had a light in her eyes that distinguished her immediately from everyone else. A radiance that transformed her from an ordinary woman to an extraordinary one.

She pressed a button and a picture of Harry appeared on the giant screen. She closed her eyes for a moment and breathed a silent prayer. She thought she would be nervous, but now faced with the task before her, she found that she was fearless.

When she began speaking, every single person in the audience of over a thousand was spellbound. For truth is often stranger than fiction.

My son Harry turns eleven today. Exactly a year ago, on his tenth birthday, he handed me a wish-list. Like every other boy his age, his wishes were fantastic and filled with the confidence and wonder that only children have.

We adults don't dare to dream beyond our limitations. But Harry didn't know that. In his mind, there was nothing he couldn't do, if only he could find a way to do it.

Harry has always held my heart in his hand. My only child, my only love. But we didn't spend enough time together back then. Between my two jobs and his unbelievably full schedule, we kept missing each other.

So when Harry gave me his list, something clicked into place within me. Life had to be lived now, not twenty years later, not when we finally decided to make time to live. Harry and I made a pact that day - the following year would be spend making the things on his list come true.

I didn't know how we would do it, but we had to try.

Getting Started

The first thing I did was call Karen, my best friend. I have no family to speak of, and very few friends. I needed Karen to be my rock.

The biggest problem was financing the entire affair. We were living day-to-day, with very little cash to spare.

That was when Karen offered to build a website for Harry. Suddenly, we had a country full of friends. In the very first week, we got several thousand hits. The local radio station put in a word for us for free. Donations started pouring in from all across the country. The amounts varied from $10 to $100, but we were sitting on a cash-pile.

In true Harry fashion, we gave away all of it to his favorite charities. “There are other people who need the money. Kids fighting cancer, kids waiting to get arms and legs. I don't want to trample their dreams for mine. We'll find other ways. Meanwhile, let's just include everyone in our journey.”

When we posted on the website that we would prefer that donations be made to other charities, we started receiving offers from folks all over the country, offering to share their homes and their families with us, proposing new wishes that they could fulfill. Harry decided to pass them along to the Make-a-wish Foundation. Very soon, Harry had made life easier for hundreds of children. Word of his quest spread fast across the country.

By the end of the first month, we had a solid lead on not one, but two wishes.

Swimming with Sharks (NOT Dolfins) and Racing Against A Cheeta (and Winning!)

On a nippy September evening, I received a call from Lans Van der Meer. The thick Rhodesian accent established him firmly as a South African.

Lans had an offer for us. "What if I bring you and Harry over to Africa for a couple of weeks? I am currently on tour in the US and I will be leaving for Cape Town at the end of the month. October is a good month for shark-diving, and I happen to have ties with an outfit that does just that. They also organize game safaris, so if we're very, very lucky, Harry might just outrun a cheetah too! I will cash in on my frequent flyer miles for the tickets. What do you say?"

I couldn't believe my ears. It was as though the universe was handing us this opportunity on a sliver platter. Suddenly, my conscience and my common sense were chiming in. What had seemed like a "Let's just wing it!" mission was acquiring practical and moral colours.

"Mr. Van der Meer, I don't know how to respond to your offer. I simply could not impose on your kindness this way, unless there is some way we can pay you back."

"Ms. Lisa, I am a pastor. I work with troubled young men and help them find direction in their lives. Your son Harry. is extraordinary. The clarity of his vision, his belief in his dreams and his wonderful act of charity in giving away his donations to the needy combine to make him a prime example of how one can achieve the impossible and be a good human being at the same time. What I need from you is to address a meeting at the youth centre during your visit."

Harry was so excited. I thought over it. And decided to go for it. At the end of the month, we were in South Africa.

It was the most fulfilling experience of my life. Pastor Van der Meer was six-and-a-half-feet tall, burly, red-faced, jovial man, unlike any pastor I had ever seen. He had a great sense of humour and kept us in splits with all his stories. His dedication to his cause, and the love he had for the young men in his care shone through his words and gestures. Twelve young men, formerly gangbangers, kept us company in Cape Town.

We swam with Great Whites. We really did. Harry and I sat in a cage, a few inches below the surface of the water. Two sharks swam close enough for us to touch. So did a couple of seals and a few dolphins a bit later on, after the sharks had swum away. Even though Harry did not want to swim with "dolfins", it appeared that they wanted to swim with Harry.

A few days later, we were in a jeep hurtling across the dusty grasslands of a national park. We raced wildebeest and gazelles. We paused for a herd of elephants to cross the road. We even saw a pride of lions, complete with cubs. But the cheetahs remained elusive. Until we were just about to give up and turn back.

The cheetah simply sauntered on to our path. It stood there looking at us with careless nonchalance. We were irritants, nothing more. Like the flies that deserved nothing more than to be swatted away with a flick of  its tail. While we all held out breaths, it sauntered on, and disappeared into the tall, golden grass.

Cheetahs are by far the most graceful and majestic among God's creations. Their muscles ripple under flawlessly shiny coats, their long, thin limbs move like poetry and their beautiful, almond shaped eyes hold the light of a thousand stars. I cried shamelessly at the beauty of this beast. Harry was unusually silent on the way back. All he said was , "Wow!"

We didn't race against the cheetah. But as Harry pointed out to the youth group he spoke to, "If I'd jumped out and run, I'd have gone faster than the cheetah did crossing the road. So technically, I could have won.. if I had raced him."

Thus satisfied, we returned to the US. Two down, three to go.

Climbing the biggest mountain in the world

Harry and I had already discussed the feasibility of this one. We both knew and accepted that it was impossible for Harry to physically climb Mt. Everest right then. We decided, instead, to send our representative instead. A tiny model of Harry, made by the main man himself, would take his place on the climb.

It was February when I received a reply to an e-mail I'd sent to a group of mountaineering enthusiasts. An Everest expedition was being planned in May. If I could send mini-Harry to them by the end of the month, they would take it up with them. The group, called NeverRest, had failed to reach the summit two times before, but this time they declared they had the motivation they needed to succeed - they wanted Harry to climb the biggest mountain in the world.

FedEx offered to fly mini-Harry by special courier to Nepal, where the NeverRest had already established base, in preparation for their climb three months away. 

A few days later, we were greeted on Skype by twenty-odd highly athletic looking young men and women. The NeverRest accepted mini-Harry in a solemn ceremony. The distance between our home and the misty mountains of Nepal was reduced to the thickness of a computer screen.

All we could do now was wait for May and pray for the Summit.

A summit of my own - Jumping from an Airplane

Harry's website was constantly updated with photographs, travel plans and personal experiences. It continued to generate donations to a large number of charities. Make-My-Wish was flooded with opportunities to make dreams come true for the terminally-ill. Harry's fame spread far and wide.

"Mom, I know I may not be allowed to jump from the airplane, so I want you to do it for me instead." Harry's words echoed in my ears. 

April sunshine bathed my garden in warm hues. Before me sat Erin Linkly, a twenty-three year old sky-diving enthusiast, a chirpy red-haired girl who looked as though she was bouncing even when she sat. There was an energy about her that seemed to infect everyone around her. 

Erin was going to attempt a record number of jumps. The site was an hour's drive away from where we lived. Since the event was already sponsored, she offered me a free ride-along with an instructor. On one of her attempts, I would jump with her. The way she spoke about it, I found myself increasingly enthusiastic about leaping from 15,000 feet. I almost forgot that once outside of Erin's sphere of influence, I would probably crawl into the shower crying and stay there. 

Looking down at the ground from the plane allowed me to think back over  my life, my decision to throw Harry's abusive father out of my home, my failures, my achievements and above all, my life with Harry. His quest was irrevocably linked to my own success as a mother and a person. If I could do this for Harry, I would know for sure that I had made something of myself. I would walk with my head held high.

The man before me put up three fingers. I was strapped to another man who was about to leap out into thin air. Erin crouched beside me, giving me a huge smile and a big thumbs-up. My throat was drier than it had ever been. I wanted to shake my head, scream, do anything to stop the counting. Unfortunately, it appeared I had lost all use of my faculties. Over two hundred people were rooting for me down on solid ground. Harry had an ever growing fan following!

Three, Two, One. Go time. Before I knew it, I was floating in the sky. I think I screamed, I don't know for sure. All I know is I felt a rush like nothing before in my life. I was one with the universe. And I was finally at peace. With God, with myself, with life.

A month later, on 20th May, we spoke again on Skype to the brave mountaineers from NeverRest. The atmosphere of jubilation and success was palpable. Excitement and fervour pervaded the air. I could almost see fireworks in the room. The team had successfully reached the summit this time. Mini-Harry had elected to stay on top of Mt. Everest, a testimony to a ten-year-old boy's dreams fulfilled.

When the  leather-bound photograph of the group and mini-Harry sitting proudly on the summit reached us a few weeks later, we wept for joy. I don't think I have ever cried more in my life than I did in those months since we started the quest. 

The Last Check on the List

The list was made on 28th July last year. I stand here before you today, exactly a year later. Harry is not here. In a moment, you'll see where he is.

It is unbelievable that one little boy's wishlist changed so many lives. Harry's website has raised funds worth over $10 Million for charities all over the world. We've helped fulfill the wishes of over a thousand children. And today we have all of you here, sharing your hopes and your lives with us.

Harry will turn eleven in thirty minutes from now. And we will all witness something even more incredible than the journey I have had this past year.

We will watch Harry's last wish come true. 

The screen flickered and cleared, revealing a view from inside a spacecraft.

Hello Earthlings! Greetings from the International Space Station. When we heard about Harry and how he's helped hundreds of kids with his generosity, we knew we had to help this guy with his own wish-list. In a few minutes, I will be walking in space with Harry. Ms. Lisa, we at the ISS are grateful and honored to be able to contribute to Harry's quest.

The audience rose to their feet as one, applauding in joy as they watched the man on the screen don a helmet and step out into the universe. The astronaut slowly unscrewed a tin he held in his hand, and scattered dust into space.

Lisa spoke, her voice catching in her throat.

Harry died last December, after the trip to Africa. He had been diagnosed with end-stage leukemia a few months before his last birthday. The doctors did not give us much time. Harry knew it. I had always been honest with him, and he was wise beyond his age.

When he gave me his list, we talked in great detail about how to accomplish each of them. Where he couldn't do something physically, he found a work-around.

"Mom, there's nothing to stop me from doing anything I want, if only I can find a way to do it."

And he found a way to do in life and in death, what most of us would never even dream of.

He swam with sharks when he couldn't even walk. He would have won a race against a cheetah if he could have raced. His hand-made model of himself stands on top of Mt. Everest. He jumped with me from an airplane. And today, his ashes are walking the universe.

Along the way, he helped hundreds of children and their families gain a new lease on life. Even after I lost him, he gave me a way to find myself. 

Today, I stand before you a proud woman and the proud mother of an incredible human being. Thank you all for being part of his journey.

Harry. The Boy Who Lived.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: Panchali Ma'am, Participation Count: 02

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