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How things are

Season Two of the Land of Lilliputians Coming soon!
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“You haven’t written anything about Emma,” Zainab complains and the others join to voice this massive omission on my part.
“Stray cats give you a heartbreak when they die. Remember Roseee?”
“But at least we now remember everything about her. We have memories,” the Lilliputians pipe in. 
“Please write about Emma’s story.”
I think about it. Maybe they are right; if you love someone as elusive as a stray cat then you learn to live with it. You can’t hold on to stray cats, but then, you cant hold on to people either. But memories…yes.
I go out to our back terrace. There she sits, lapping up the cat food that I had left in her plate. Emma has lost weight. She is a big cat now, and she is a mother cat. I remember the day she was born…
It is a story of cats. It is a story of two generations.  It is a story that happens on the back terrace that has become home to two and now three generations of cats.
Emma was among the four kittens in Roseee’s second litter. Most probably, she was born on March 29’…

90 Days of Freedom

There is a palpable sense of excitement in the Land of Lilliputians. 
“The freedom!” I can see the words written over their faces as the Lilliputians slog around their books to somehow weather the slings and arrows of exams.
“Summer holidays. We will have 90 days!” Omar’s eyes shine with the possibilities of unlimited freedom and that too for 90 days.
“What do you plan to do?” I ask, some of the excitement rubbing in on me.
“I will get hold of the TV remote and will keep it in my pocket 24/7. I will sleep with a remote in my hand and will immediately turn on the TV when I wake up.” Omar has dark plans up his sleeve to make up for the ‘externally’ imposed deprivation.
Now I am curious. What plans the others have?
Saif’s plans, predictably so, revolve around cricket.  “I will play, play and play,” he enthuses and circles his arm in the gesture of throwing a ball.
Zainab is the literary type and intends to read every book by Percy Jackson.
Roshan has ambitious plans. “I will write a book of 500…

Rooster in a Lota

“I need a lota, I want to make a rooster out of it,” Omar informs me.
I tell him it seems too far-fetched an idea. But Omar is adamant, even surprised that I can’t see the obvious.
“It is a ready-made rooster; you just need to do a little bit of work. Just look at this, it’s a rooster’s neck,” Omar brings a lota and points towards the spout.
I try to see it with Omar’s eyes and yes…the lota does seem like a rooster in making.
And then, I am put to work. A bottle of glue, a paintbrush, a cotton roll, and some chart paper are placed before me. And I am told to follow the instructions.
“Now with the help of this paintbrush cover the lota with glue, don’t leave any uncovered area,” Omar instructs and warns.
I set to work, diligently so. Obediently I follow the instructions that are constantly being hammered into my ears.
Lovingly I make the rooster’s white round body (it’s a fat rooster) and triangular face, tenderly I fashion its wattle, its comb, and its tail with red glazed paper, and gently…

The First Poor Person in the World

I hide inside my blanket and listen to the rain knocking on my window panes. Flu always makes me want to hide somewhere dark and warm. A hangover from my prenatal life, I guess. 
Omar comes and snuggles into my bed. “You are so boring! Why are you sleeping?” he asks.
“Yes, boring and not well,” I murmur from inside my cocoon.
“What should I do?” Omar asks and then defines the boundaries within which my answer should fall, “just don’t tell me to do these three things: sleep, eat, study.”
This is Omar’s standard question. A constant refrain that we hear throughout the day and, if he is awake, at night too.
“Okay. Maybe you can stand upside down and look at the world in a new way,” I say and emerge from the darkness of my shell to face Omar’s glare.
“It works,” I tell him from my own experience.
“No, suggest something else. I am bored.”
“Listen to the rain and think about the children who don’t have a warm bed to snuggle into,” I try to change the track of his thoughts.
The comment makes him pau…

The Games Children Play

“You are the bad guys. You will drop the bomb and then the police will come. Got it?” I hear Saif's instructions crashing in through the window of the dining room where I sit and sip Yemen’s special mocha coffee.
Bomb? Police?  Sounds familiar. I peer through the window. Mobby and Omar are carrying bombs, aka footballs, that they have to drop somewhere. They are trying to mimic menacing expressions. They don’t succeed.
“What kind of game is this? Can’t you play something nice?”
They look at the frantic woman standing behind the window and laugh.
  “We are playing Taliban, Talibaan. We will drop the bomb, police –Zainab and Roshan- will come but they won't be able to catch us,” Omar outlines the rules of the game for my information.
“And then I will come and capture all of them. Because I am really powerful,” Saif tells me how the game will end.
“And who are you supposed to be?” I ask.
“I am Raheel Sharif,” Saif says and they all run away to begin the game.
I wonder about their new …

Writer’s Life

Smitten with the written word is he. But this is not entirely an innocent love that shuns all thoughts of material gains. 
Omar’s love for the written word has a smattering of worldly motives. More than a smattering in fact.
It all began when Omar decided to copy every book in the world. “I want to build my own library,” he told me.”
“Why don’t you buy them?” simpleton that I am, I always fail to decipher Omar’s deeper motives.
“I want to write my own books. And it will save money.”
“But this is not writing, this is copying somebody’s work.” I have already admitted to not being very sharp.
“I am writing. This is my handwriting.” Considering the finality in Omar’s tone, I decide not to wax eloquent on plagiarism.
A chicken-hearted simpleton. Not very flattering!
Thus a couple of stories are written. And here ends the first phase of the writer’s life.
It is with swarming thoughts and plans of getting rich and famous that the second phase starts.
Now Omar wants the world us to see what he is seein…