Always

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“My love for this city reduces every time I have to drive in it” She said as she unlocked the car
“I have to go now, too many things in my hands”
“tell me something new” the voice at the other end of the line smirked
“You might have to begin your start up checklist too, haha”
“hang up” she replied smiling
“later then” and he was gone 

Ruhi opened the rear door and like clockwork put the stuff inside. Everything had a specific place. The laptop bag went on the seat, the lunch basket under it. As she sat on the driver’s seat, her handbag went on the seat beside her, the phone in the exact place it was suppose to be. 

“Okay Nyx, lets go” she said, pulling out of her usual parking spot at the office.
Her beloved car was aptly named after the goddess of the night. Black and strong that she was. 

While crossing the gate, out of sheer muscle memory she dialed a number on her phone. Disconnected. And dialed another.
“You were working late” her favorite voice said
“Good days love” she replied “How did you know I just left work?”
“I know things. Like I also know that before you called me, you called him. And like everyday he didn’t answer ”
“He will call back, he mostly does” she sighed “Now stop getting angry at me and tell me about your day”
“I am not angry at you Ru, I am just reminding you that you are his “mostly”” Her best friend snapped.
“And he is my “always”. I know” Ruhi replied softly
“Fine I will tell you about my day” the other side of the line spoke, breaking the awkward silence
“It was definitely better than this conversation, anyway” 

One of the most important part of her driving checklist on the way home was talking to her girl. It was also a tradition they had followed for a decade. Most of their major life decisions were made while in transit. 

“What’s for dinner?” Ruhi asked as she reverse parked into her garage
“I feel like having something nice” came the reply
“You should type that on your food app and have it delivered” she laughed
“The kind of “something nice” I am looking for, wont be found on a food app” the line thundered with laugher on both sides
“You are incorrigible” Ruhi caught her breath
“My level of weirdness is above national average, I am completely okay with that”
“but incorrigible, my dear girl, is you! I don’t know what you see in him. That guy who doesn’t call you back” she continued “he is the only grey in your black and white life, Ru” “not grey, he is blue!” Ruhi deflected as she kissed her best friend good night and hung up. “I am going upstairs and chatting with you” 

Balancing each bag on its designated shoulder Ruhi opened the door to her house. She loved the place. It smelled of lavender and had big french windows overlooking a park. It had two bed rooms but was mostly inhabited by one person. On occasion it was two. She liked those occasions. “Should order that wind chime” she thought to herself as she opened the windows, placed her keys in the bowl on the table and her bags exactly where they went, everyday. 

“Black and white life, she says” she mumbled, ruminating on the conversation she had just had, walking into her room.
Took her bra off before she even took her shoes off and sat on her bed.
“you are right, my life is black and white” she typed in her most used chat window
“and you would rather have it black and blue!!” replied her best friend complete with a wink emoticon 

She put the phone aside smiling at the thought. 

Standing under the shower, with her eyes closed, she let the warm water wash away her day.
Her life had always been blue. She just hadn’t realized it till a few months ago. All the thinking had begun just after. She was adapting to this new color and its shades while blue was just being blue. She loved how it made her feel on the inside but hated that she had no control over it.
“Stop thinking Ruhi” she said aloud to herself as she wrapped herself in her towel, and looked at herself in the mirror.
The jacket on the bed caught her eye. 

He was sitting on the couch with his back towards her, in the room outside. She could only see his shirt from where she was standing. It was blue!
“Hi” he said as her heard her walk in. Still watching tv.
“Hi” She replied, smiling, happy. 

“Have you ever looked at someone and thought, I am so happy you are in my life”
“They might not even know of your existence then, but in that moment there is something about them that makes you think, I am just so happy you are in my life” Ruhi typed to her best friend 

“I am guessing “Mostly” came around” her phone chimed 

“He will Forever be my Always” was her last message for the night. 

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Unbroken 

She had a smile that twinkled at the curve of her lips. A laugh..like when happiness tickled a kid.

The dark of her eyes was sad mostly but sometimes it sparkled. Like she was trying to break away and yet was in love with her shackles.

She was hurt, broken into pieces in parts unknown, yet holding it together like repaired with gold.

He knew she was torn, ruptured, and damaged.. but all he could see was how beautifully she was sewn!

Book Review: Lethal Spice

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Author: Swati Kaushal
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN13: 9789350097694
Genre: Fiction/ Crime Thriller
Pages: 336
Source: Personal Copy

‘Lethal Spice’ is a crime thriller set in the backdrop of a reality cooking show. It is October in Shimla. The air is crisp the mist is rising and the stakes are sky-high as the finalists of “Hot Chef” are pitted against each other in a live shoot at the historic gaiety theatre. A hundred-year-old stage steeped in tradition. Six contestants with a world to gain and everything to lose. Three judges who stand between them and their dreams. The spices are ground the fires are lit the knives have been sharpened. Then things start to go horribly wrong. Mala Joseph, judge and former winner of the reality show dies on stage. Shimla’s superintendent of police Niki Marwah is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of a perplexing mystery.

This is the second appearance of Niki Marwah in Swati Kaushal’s books. She is one of the very well etched characters. A confident police officer who commands the respect of not only those working for her, but also her superiors is a perfect protagonist. She stands out distinctly even when the other characters are very well written. Each of them is described in detail. From the personalities of the contestants to the emotions flowing around, the author has done a brilliant job at descriptions. The second half of the book twists before it ends, ticking all the right boxes on the crime thriller check list. The pace at which things happen is what keeps you hooked. Its just apt. Any faster and it would over speed, any slower and the reader would lose interest.

Swati Kaushal is the author of three best selling novels ‘Piece of Cake’, ‘A Girl Like Me’ and ‘Drop Dead’. An alumni of lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi and a MBA from IIM Calcutta, Swati has worked with Nestle India and Nokia mobile phones, India. While her home is in Connecticut, she is more often to be found wandering the secret gullies and mohallas of a good book, a cup of elaichi chai in hand.

I picked up Lethal Spice with a “I know the butler did it” kind of a mindset, but it ended up making my weekend perfect. Its a very well cooked spicy story with a brilliant after taste.

Rating: 4/5