Chumma Stories

Cook Little Mina, Cook!

“Mina! come and help me in the kitchen, simply sitting and watching tv.”

“Yaa Mina, go do kiitcheen work, ahahha” Nino teased.

Mina glared at her brother. “He was older, he was also dumber, but why did he never have to work in the kitchen?” she thought to herself, “what a douchebag” she said out loud.

She stepped into the kitchen and stood watching her mother mix the cabbage thoran with the broken wooden spatula, a few yellow pieces fell out on the stove, Her mother would clean that up at 3, after everyone was fed.

“Mina, you make the mango chutney. I don’t have time.”

“Ugh. okay.”

Mina despised the kitchen. In five minutes of standing there, your forehead, your mustachey upper lip, your back, neck, would all break into sweat. And if you were forced to wear a bra, as Mina was today, since her father and brother were both at home and “young girls should dress a certain way when men are at home”, you had your personal undershirt waterfall. “Why was the kitchen so hot always?” Mina thought to herself, wiping away the first of many beads of sweat.

She opened the refrigerator and felt some temporary relief, even though there wasn’t any particular smell, she still liked to inhale cold air and feel her nose close for a second before she exhaled. Ice vapours rushed to meet her face and she bent down to pick out one mango, two green chillis, some shredded coconut, small onions, ginger and garlic.

“Mina, take out some ginger garlic for me also” her mother said with her hand stretched out, Mina put it in to her mothers hand almost immediately. It was ike she knew exactly how much her mother needed, “so weird…” Mina thought to herself.

She set the cutting board on the counter below the masala rack. She began chopping all her chutney ingredients.

“Pass the powder Mina”

“okay now the other powder”

“okay now the…” Mina handed over the mustard seeds “ah yes that only”

“What is this power?” Mina thought to herself, amused. Mina knew exactly what was needed and when, “this is awesome!” she smiled.

Mina began to put all the chopped ingredients into the mixer, she was aware of the sweat pouring down, she was irritated by it. She was about to shut the mixer when her mother put in a pinch of salt and a little more coconut. Mina closed the mixer and switched it on, “why isn’t this switching on?” she looked, confusingly. Her mother rotated the mixer once more to let it sit correctly on the stand and it started grinding.

When Mina took a bowl from the drawer to empty the chutney, her mother closed the drawer behind her. When her mother went to the fridge to take out something, Mina immediately filled her place and continued stirring the masala mix. Her mother came back to stir and Mina went to take out some coconut oil to pour in the pan. “What coordination Mummy and I have….” Mina wondered. They were in sync all throughout, they were both copiously sweating too, but Mina didn’t seem to care, she had never felt so sure before. Her mother and her seemed to have some exotic chemistry in the kitchen, they were dancing together in perfect beat, each one knew what the other one wanted, neither got in the others way- puppets controlled by an expert, there was a perfectly established system, a choreography that seemed to have been practiced many times before.

Many streams of sweat later, the food was ready. Mina helped her mom set down the bowls and the family sat to eat lunch. Mina was too delighted by that power she felt in the kitchen. She had never felt such power before, “What is this power that Mummy and I seem to share in the kitchen?” she wondered. “Why don’t I feel it anywhere else?”

“Ey Mina” her dad burped out, when he saw his daughter engrossed in some happy thought near the window, “come and massage my legs, nothing you do all day” and he lifted his legs and lay on the sofa, eyes darting between her and the Tv.

Mina’s illusion of power was suddenly broken. She was just Mina again. Mina who had to massage her fathers feet while her own feet hurt from standing in a hot kitchen.

“I’ll go back to the kitchen tomorrow, that power might come back again.” Mina said to herself, grabbing the bottle of oil to go massage her fathers feet.

Gloom time

Sunday morning gloom

This morning, as compared to most other mornings, has been particularly hard. The routine is the same, to wake up and feel extremely guilty. I am supposed to be dead right now….

The ‘Survival of the fittest’ test that all human beings encounter everyday, I was supposed to have failed it last year, October 2019. Or maybe, I should have started failing back then, but by now, April 2020, surely, I should have failed.

‘ “TB is like living with a bomb in your lung.” Buddy had written to me at college. “You just lie around very quietly hoping it wont go off.” ‘ – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

So I decided, to be dead. I silently resigned from everything, from everyone. Every morning, I stare at myself in the mirror guiltily, because I know, I don’t belong here. I have not written anything I am proud of from December 29, 2019. In fact, I haven’t written at all, though my mind seems to be bursting with ideas. I don’t have the courage. I want to write about all these emotions, but I cant seem to bring myself to talk about this.

The other day I almost fainted in the kitchen. It’s a funny feeling, to faint. You feel weak at your knees, sweat trickling down your neck which feels….empty. Your ears close up with immense pressure, your head seems to be jumping up and down…like your soul trying to escape, but your entire body is nailed to the ground, you stop smelling the bananas being fried in fresh coconut oil. You feel like a soda bottle that has just been popped open, as light as the gas that escapes, but your head feels heavy, like a huge soda bottle weighing you down.

I am unsure of how to justify my body’s failure to myself. My mind seems to be stuck in a very toxic loop, sometimes I want the soda bottle to shatter on my head, glass splinters falling, slicing my already once sliced neck….

Sometimes, I just want to write about these feelings.

I’m glad I chose the latter.


Helping Hands

Now you’re at home, 24/7, you really don’t have much to do. Mom asks you to help in the kitchen, or around the house, but you manage to wriggle your way out of it. Sometimes you help, but how much can one engage in an already occupied territory?

Netflix, yeah. Prime, sure, why not. Throw in a few YouTube videos too. Social media seems to have taken up the greatest slice though. Everyone’s throwing back, or asking you to ask them things.

Okay, fuck it. You know all this. You also know what you really, really want to do.

When you first discovered it, you were unsure of what it was. You loved to do it back then, taking your time out to choose the perfect video, watching a few light videos as foreplay, building up to the most intense video…. but then life happened. You didn’t have anymore time, things became hectic. But now…. you have time now, to rediscover, to bring back lost feelings…

It felt damn good, didn’t it? that new found energy surging, gushing through your hands as you fight through the pain for that one moment, those intense heat flushes that spread through from that spot down there, the heat that sizzles over your face and your neck. You picture a lover, or a crush, or a crush turned lover- your bodies close, chest and stomach that stick from all the sweat, pressure increasing, just that position, just that very motion, in that very fucking position, Yes that fucking spot yes, oh fuck, fuck, fuck, yes!

Your body arches, your skin stretching to expose that peeping rib cage, the tip of your head piercing the pillow. Your breath, held. You’re at the tip, you’re at the point,

And then its over.

You’re back to your four walls, a locked door and window, a creaking fan. Satisfied, for the moment, but sad. You think of the lover, or the crush, or the crush turned lover you haven’t seen for a while now, you miss them, their soft skin, the way they would look at you, how you would have exhausted on to their shoulder right now and then engaged in some soft kissing, maybe cracked a joke, maybe fallen asleep. You miss their touch.

You sigh, stare at the fan slicing through the air above you. It’s time to go take a shower.



A special someone, left early today, apparently to meet another certain someone (I overheard this from two people speaking.) Certain someone studies (i guess?) in an educational institution far away from me. Special someone has perhaps gone to woo this certain someone. This aches my heart terribly. Why, Oh dear Special someone! why are you going till there for certain someone? Stay here and love me no?

Okay chuck.

Sister also had a bad day. We rushed to Plan B. I told her about the horrid crime that has happened to me. She told me about her boss. Apparently, her boss wonders why they need my sister in the office if they have this checking thing called Grammarly.

Umm. Excuse me Boss aunty, but who will write and form the words that go into Grammarly? your ass? Thoo. I say to her.

Comes in now, the first plate of BBQ chicken wings. Ahh yes. Commence now, the silence of messy eating. Om nom nom. Yummy Yummy in my Tummy.

Enter now, the second plate of Honey Mustard Chicken wings. BBQ and Honey Mustard seem to taste the same to me? I tried to break the taste with meri pyaari Old Monk and Coke, but no. Still same only. One nice sweet sweet taste. I like it anyway. I wonder if this chicken was Halal? probably not. Well shucks.

Sister chugs Red wine Sangria, I chug my Old monk. Sister leans head on her purse which is on the counter, I lean my head behind and feel WOOOOSHY.

Exit from Plan B, hand in hand. Music playing, the beautiful voice of a woman lag jaa galey.. plays loudly from Hockey stadium. “Wow. come lets go see.”

We enter. We are stopped by reception. “What’s happening?”

“Musical night”

“‘oh. okay thank you.”

We exit. Hand in Hand, tu mileyy, dil khileyy… plays in background. Damn nice. Cat passes by, holding dead baby rat in mouth. Shucks.

Dropping sister off at her PG. “Run off now fluffy. Live your fluffy dreams!” I tell her.

I walk and walk. I see a beautiful white flower on the ground. I pick it up. I spin the flower in my hand. Damn I feel dizzy. But flower is pretty. I step on dog shit, I think. I step on dried up cow shit that has left its mark on the road, I think. I see a fluffy dog pee. Fuck.

I reach PG. Flower on my bed. Damn weird feels. This piece has been brought to you by Old Monk and Rum. Thank you for wasting time. Love u, umma.

If you are special someone, Katti.



I have heard a story.

A story of a man, who will grab your hand when no one is around and look into your eyes and tell you about certain things that your parents cant provide. Certain feelings, that only outsiders can make you feel. In all this time, the photo of his daughter in a frilly pink frock will run through your mind.

A story of a man, who will stroke your back, for reassurance, of course. Then slowly, but reassuringly, he will move his hands south, the tourist wishes to explore. In all this while, you will stay put, play a game of freeze with yourself, act like you don’t know. You will allow yourself to be explored.

A story of a man, who is looking out for you as you climb up a staircase. He will affectionately place his hands on your waist, his four fingers pressed on your stomach, which you suck in, from shock. His palms will press against your hips, and his thumbs will move up and down your back. All this while, you will look up at the last stair, and stare.

A story of a man who will allow you the privilege of sitting behind him on his bike. He will zoom through the city and then take you home, he will expect something, he always does, and all this while, you will wonder why bike rides are more appealing to you than you are yourself.

I have heard a story. I have heard many more stories, but so have you. Don’t tell me you don’t know these stories, I mean, these are your stories only, no?


Tejas Ramakrishna

Little do people know about the scrawny man who sits two rows behind me in class. The sunken eyes and dead expressions seem to deliver an extremely negative impression of a creature who can make some extremely bizarre, yet unique songs that you can find on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. If not with his shiny black guitar that I assume he loves very much, he can be seen with his closest friend Gautami.

Tejas’ most interesting stories seem to stem from his house, where he is alone most of the time. He will begin by establishing that his house is near a lake. This is very crucial, it will explain the thick trees that grow near his house and seem to burst into his windows. Trees that are filled with huge bats that crawl about at night. Once he has established this extremely gothic castle like house in some corner of Bangalore in your Shantinagar mind, he will begin to tell you some amusing stories, like the time he had a surprise visitor in the bathroom.

One evening, he heard some noise in the bathroom and contrary to popular mindset decided to go inspect. He did not seem to find anything and he went back. The same night, as he was brushing his teeth, he hears the flapping of wings. He is now sharing the bathroom with a mother bird and her chicks. A confused Tejas could only think of how it was, “going to be so weird to poop in front of a bird.”

To excuse himself from such awkwardness, the next day, armed with sunglasses to protect his eyes and a stick in his hand, he went to the bird and shooed it away by violently swinging the stick. The mother bird ran away and came back only to take her little chicks one by one. A victorious Tejas discarded whatever was left of the nest and continued his business.

Apart from his house, he loves spending time with his father, who is the only person that can make Tejas smile for real (That’s right, all those smiles he laboriously displays are fake and forced- he tells me with a smile). His father, who he meets on the weekends, tells him some wonderfully funny stories- like the story about one of the first beedis in Bangalore being Mangalore Ganesh beedi and when their competitors came, they decided to call themselves Kerala Dinesh beedi. Tejas laughed after he told me this, so I might have just seen an original laughter, or at least I hope I did. 

There’s ghosts in the way you move

And all I can do is groove

With you

You know that I see it too

You want me to move with you

With you

There’s ghosts in the way you move

And I am in love with you.

– Tejas Ramakrishna, Ghosts.


Where’s my home?

People often tend to be reflections of their hometowns, or so I have heard, in this case, I am a gypsy. I belong no where. I go places, have my fun and run along to the next.

Being raised in Dubai, I never really understood the complexities and dangers of the world – it is a little bubble of a place after all! I eventually realized that though I found Dubai to be my home, Dubai would never consider me one of his, and I had to leave. Now he exists only in my memory, a someone to think of after I intoxicate myself. He was my longest relationship after all. The smell of his cologne that over powered the smell of his sweat after a hard day at work, his wide smile, perfectly blow dried hair that had been set with large amounts of hairspray, the branded clothes that drew attention to huge, chiseled arms- all would exist now only in my memory.

Kerala was my summertime fling. I visit her reluctantly every vacation and complain to her about how she is imperfect and nothing in comparison to Dubai, she listens to me and has no complains, she is just glad that I have come to visit. It is the same routine every year, I have fun with her for the first few days, until I realize the emptiness I feel when I’m with her. Kerala and I don’t belong together and perhaps she knew this before I did. I was incapable of anything with her, I couldn’t imagine myself being with her for the rest of my life and often caught myself thinking about others when with her. When I leave her by the end of the month, she smiles and says goodbye, she knows I’ll come back next vacation, she knows I’ll run into her arms, smell the jasmine flowers on her hair and the Medimix soap on her skin, Kerala, I cannot leave, I cannot avoid, she contains too many precious memories.

Bangalore was the arranged marriage. He offered me an education and so I accepted for my own sake. I found out in due time, to my surprise, that he had various interesting secrets, in every fold of his skin there existed a hidden story. He pulled me towards him with his food, conversations and opportunities but also turned me off slightly with his untidiness. But Bangalore is smart. He offered me something no other place could. He offered me freedom and made sure I was addicted. The freedom to experience life as a result of my own actions, to be able to think, question and have my own mental crisis’ – all in the hope of me becoming a strong, independent woman, that’s what he truly wishes for me. He counts on me to become great, he teaches me so much every day and I cannot wait to see how we will turn out.

I am a gypsy, I will run away when I sense that they want to hold me and keep me with them, I will collect stories and lessons from all of them and I will remember them for life, but I am sorry, I can never belong to any of them.