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Writing My 100th Story

I have written my 100th story. A task which looked almost impossible at one time, has been accomplished. My 100th story is my tribute to Indian army’s first field marshal, Sam Manekshaw. 

Believe me, I never thought writing short stories is my forte. Yes, I worked in All India Radio News for thirty one years. I learnt the art of editing and reporting news events there only. But then, as AIR bulletins have limited time duration, your edited copies had to be short and crisp so that you could convey maximum information to your news listeners in minimum time. But you have no such limitations while writing short stories.

It all started in the year 2020 when dreaded  pandemic Covid had gripped the entire globe. I also fell victim to it and was in hospital for nineteen days. It affected my lungs  and my oxygen level dipped. My oxygen mask was on day and night. Whenever Doctors made me walk for three minutes without oxygen mask, oxygen level fell to as low as 70.

My daughter Shafina was my guardian angel. She stayed in her car outside the hospital constantly as visitors were not allowed inside Covid ward. I was administered plasma twice and was kept on steroids and high doses of antibiotics. All this became necessary as I am a heart patient, asthmatic and suffer from several allergies. I was still on oxygen when I came back home. Recovery was slow and painful. Post Covid complications were many.

I had become irritable and short tempered. Parts of my body would become numb from time to time. I could not sleep at night and was staring at roof most of the time. At that time, my daughter suggested that papa, you have been an editor and reporter most part of your life. As a diversion, why do not you start writing stories about your life experiences.

At that time, I felt as if she was mocking me. How could I take up writing when I was feeling weak mentally and physically. But she kept on persuading me despite my loosing temper time and again. Ultimately I agreed to give it a try. My problem was I had never written a diary and had no notes or material to fall back upon. Let me put it this way that Shafina literally forced me into writing.

Whenever I resisted she would say with a smile, I know my papa has tremendous potential and can do it . And then one day, she presented me her own I-pad, saying papa, it would make writing much easier for you. Shafina was working with Sage publishing house at that time as Associate Vice President.

She had another brilliant idea. She started a blog in my name with title, 100 untold stories. I was 76 at that time. Are you joking beta, I asked. 100 stories at this age. Yes, she said, I know my papa can do it. During that time only, our group on WhatsApp, News Warriors , came up with an idea to start writing about our experiences as radio journalists. As I started writing, I started feeling better mentally. It helped me in coming out of my depressive mood.

Before I could realise it, writing short stories based on reality had become an obsession with me. It boosted my morale and I was thoroughly enjoying it.

My stories are mostly based on experiences of my life. My friends and well-wishers often asked me how could you remember minutest of details of various incidents happening at various stages of your life starting from your childhood. I cannot explain how it happens but as I sit down with my I pad in hand, things start falling in place like pieces of a jig jag puzzle .

Of course writing involves lot of research work to ensure authenticity of your writing. Writing short stories based on reality has been a blessing in disguise for me. As they say, depression and loneliness are the biggest curse of old age. My stories have brought me near to many of my readers. My each story now draws between 1000 and three thousand readers.

Many of them write comments and I thank them for their interaction with me. In such a scenario, where is scope for depression and loneliness. My readers are from home and abroad. It is so touching when people from war  torn country like Ukraine  read your stories.

Readers are also from countries like Pakistan, Britain, France , USA , Germany ,Australia New Zealand , and many more .

My daughter, Shafina with my wife Uma and my son Ankur planned gift for my 80th birthday which took me totally by surprise. They planned a get together of family members and some close friends at a restaurant. It was a gathering of about 35 people, including  my three sisters and brother in laws, their daughters as well as their children.

All of a sudden, Shafina got up from her seat with a big grin on  her face and a twinkle in her eyes. She said papa, I know it was your dream to get book of your short stories published. Here is your book papa, titled, ‘Treasures of my Heart’ and it is available on Amazon and Flipkart online. She presented the book to me with a big hug saying, papa I love you. What a moment to savour. I had tears in my eyes. I said with a chocked throat, thanks to you, your mama and Ankur. It was like a dream come true. I could not believe my eyes. I could not have asked for anything more. It was the best surprise of my life. Shafina also presented copies of the book to the guests.

Tell me how many people you know whose dreams come true at the ripe age of 80. People who have family and friends around to make life worth living. We all know, old age, decease and death are inevitable. But ageing gracefully becomes easier if you invest heavily in compassion, kindness, love and emotions during your younger days. Remember, if you want others to be happy , practice compassion; If you want yourself to be happy, practice compassion. And also, have a twinkle in your wrinkle if you want to be happy in old age.

After all, the best tunes are played on old fiddle. And as they say, always count your age by friends, not years, count your life by smiles, not tears. Last but not least, if your body is still functioning and not in unbearable pain, gratitude should be the name of the game .


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02 mar


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Thanks Manu . God bless

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