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It is all very well to tell me that I would be a star, not the filmy kind of course, but the ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ kind that shines in the sky, as if conferring the highest honor on me. Oh my God, imagine what a lonely life it would be with your immediate ‘star’ neighbor some I-don’t-know-how-many miles away, too far anyway to holler or be hollered at. By the way are stars able to holler at all?? Besides, I hear they, the stars I mean, don’t even have laptops or internet. Egad, what a sorry life! And how fair is it springing this news on me at such short notice?? How the heck am I going to bring about all that I had been hoping to happen in my next life in the short span I have left of the present one?? All along I had been counting on my next life to do all the things I missed out on in this one presently running. But what happens?? Along comes this astrologer guy, takes one look at my horoscope and wipes the slate clean of any more life by stating decisively,

“You are going to be a star in the sky. No more rebirths for you. This is your last life.”

Aapko in keede makeedon ke saath rehna hi nahi!” (You don’t have to live with insects and worms, read as in human form, any more) he had added for good measure, smiling serenely.

I smiled back just as serenely. But serene had been the last thing I was feeling at his pronouncement. My mind churned with a million and one thoughts.

Hmmm….oh well. But.. but….how about the dreams of becoming a bharatanatyam dancer?? How about singing like Shreya Ghosal a la koyal?? How about traveling and seeing the world?? How about living in a farm??!! And most important of them all, how about all those ice creams???? Oh my God, this was a catastrophe.

There was nothing to it but to grin and bear (I have learnt this lesson early in my life), accept the fact and try and make the best of what was left of my life, I decided. That is exactly what I tried to do with I must say, slightly disastrous consequences. Let me not put the cart before the horse and relate the events in their proper order.

When the astrologer guy left, I sighed and promptly called up the Lord and Master and the kiddos one after the other and gave them the sad (or good, it all depends on the perspective) news. Sorry guys, I had planned on meeting you all in my next life in one capacity or another. But now it is out of question. I won’t be around to do that. When you want to see me you will have to be content to look up at the sky where I will be along with the le22 (I am damned if I know what that means) or so stars wikipedia tells me is out there and hope that I am amongst the thousand or so visible ones when conditions are perfect.

I knew what had to be done next. Of course I couldn’t become a bharatanatyam dancer in the little time I had left, not when that half a century (Are my gifts ready??) was balefully staring me in the face. Neither could I do a koyal or a Shreya Ghosal however much I wished. As it is I have lost whatever little voice I had once upon a time, having used it all up for screaming at those monkeys of mine, err… sorry, I mean sons. “Get up!!” “Not now!” “Clean your room!” “Go and have your bath!!!!!” “No!!!!” and more in the same vein. The next in the list came traveling. What traveling could I do with my sciatica ridden leg going on frequent ‘no-work’ days and in increasing frequency too?? As far as living in a farm was concerned, it had only been a dream to start with, it could never be reality. Sigh.

Down to the last one on the list, I perked up. Here was something I could do before I became a bally star in the wilderness with nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs figuratively as stars don’t have thumbs and only twinkle all day, week, month, year…. oh well eons, at folk back down on good old Earth.

There were all those ice creams waiting for me to taste them!!

Ice creams enticing me with their different textures, flavors, colors et al. Now was the time to dig into them as stars I am told don’t have ice creams in their menu. So from that day onwards I dug in with nary a thought for expanding girth. I was anyway going to have a wide girth as a star, so why not now?? Logic has always been my forte much to the dismay and exasperation of those who know me.

Pictures of me wolfing down ice creams were sent to the Lord and Master from where I was holidaying with my sister and niece. Ahhhh what bliss it is to be in an all-girl household!! Sheer fun and frolic. The pictures were what did it, landed me in hot water made even hotter by the soaring mercury at Vadodara. The ultimatum came from the Lord and Master himself in the very next call he made from home.

“Don’t you dare come back adding on extra pounds!!” Gulp.

My smart niece’s eyes sparkled just like those bally stars that I was to join in the future, when appraised of the conversation.

“Let’s fatten up ValC (her name for me)!!!! ” she excitedly suggested to my sis, her mother.

“Then Valyachan (Uncle) won’t want her back and we can keep her here forever!!”

Awww… so sweet of her. But, I had to get back home at all costs once my holiday was over. My dog was waiting for me. So reluctantly I cut down on my ice cream intake. But by then the damage had been done, I had already added a kilo or two to my midriff. Oh bother!

It was with trepidation that I alighted at the Trivandrum Central railway station. Fortunately for me, the Lord and Master, already fed up with hotel cuisine and wanting to have the wife back in the kitchen pronto, did not ask me to go through any agnipariksha a la Shri Rama of Sita, the agnipariksha in this case involving stepping on the weighing scale and passing muster before entering Home Sweet Home and chose instead to ignore the few extra pounds.

So here I am well ensconced in my cozy home. The thought that in the times to come, there amidst the Sun, Sirius, Vega, Richel, Deneb, Regulus, Pollux, Mimosa, Atria, Aludra and the rest of the brightest of stars in the sky there would be one nonentity called Shail trying her best to shine as bright as the rest, doesn’t fill my heart with tranquility and contentedness. Instead I sing (in my heart) with longing,

……Eee manhohara theerathu tharumo, iniyoru janmam koodi, enkkini oru janmam koodi??

Hey Whoever You Are, will you give me one more birth in this beautiful place?? I have many more flavors of ice-creams to taste.