What’s in a name?


Today’s prompt was to write about my first name and to describe whether there were any stories or associations attached to it. So here goes.

It is a no-brainer that I (Jairam Mohan, for those who don’t know my name) have been named after Lord Ram, one of India’s and I daresay the world’s most popular deities. However, there is more to Jairam than just the literal meaning “glory to Lord Ram“.

I belong to a community called the Palakkad Iyers, and for anybody who is familiar with this community, they know that all firstborn children are named after their paternal grandparents, the boy gets his grandfather’s name and the girl her grandmother’s. Given that my grandfather had seven sons and two daughters, there just would have been too many grandchildren with the same names, and he therefore decided to play around with the names just a bit.

His name was Ramaswamy and that meant that all of us had to have Ram in our names. He was a freedom fighter and was a lifelong Congress supporter (the Indian National Congress, mind you, and not the Congress that we know of today). And it was just after the 1977 Emergency that a cousin of mine, a tad elder than me was born. He named him Sreeram, the first in the lineage of Rams in the family. I came next, Jairam, and the cousin born three years after me was named Rajaram.

The choice of Sree, Jai and Raja were not random ones. It was my grandfather’s way of coining a catchy slogan to support Indira Gandhi during the 1980 elections. The chant would go “Sreeram Jairam Rajaram, Indira Gandhi zindabad” In fact, my grandpa loved it so much, that he would sing it out aloud whenever he would get to see the three of us together in a family function.

Of all the wonderful memories I have of him, this story behind my name and those of my cousins remains one of my all time favorites.


Therefore, unlike the popular perception that I had been named after Lord Ram and my parents or grandparents were extremely devout or religious people to name me after him, the fact remains that my name was a result of one of my grandpa’s word plays and his penchant for playing around with the English language to suit the occasion.

Just chanting out the phrase aloud brings back some really wonderful memories to me. All the days spent as youngsters learning English from my grandpa, playing word-building games with him, sparring with him over interpretations of Shakespearean and other literary works, asking him ideas for slogans for products and competitions, asking him to help out with essay and elocution topics, discussing cricket matches with him, these were things that almost all his grandchildren (with the exception of the youngest ones) have thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, while the eldest three of them managed to spend more time with him personally given that they actually stayed with him for more than a few years, the rest of us couldn’t complain as he was always game to spend time with us kids. In fact, looking back today, at times I feel that he probably used to enjoy our company more than the company of his own children.

Thatha, this post is a tribute to all those wonderful memories, and of course, to the lovely name that the world knows me by today.


This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where, as the name suggests, the aim is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided by WordPress.


kaleidoscope rose

It was a day like any other but somehow I felt that it was a day unlike any other. Something about the air that day felt special. Whether it was the fragrance of the freshly bloomed jasmine flowers in the verandah or the rippling sounds of the Kaveri river flowing just outside the kitchen door, all my senses were on overdrive that day.

The smells, the sounds, the touch, all of them felt special that day. Something special was going to happen today.

And I was proven right when the holy man arrived. Mysterious at first, I seemed more at ease with him when after his lunch, he started talking about his travels and some of the wonderful places he had visited. He presented such a vivid picture of the places he had visited and the things he had seen and experienced that at the end of the conversation I felt like I had already been there with him.

I don’t know if it was my cheerful nature, my pleasant demeanor or my innocent inquisitiveness, but something about me stuck a chord with him and he seemed to like me a lot. After more than three odd hours of narrating the stories of his travels, he suddenly said – Tell you what, let me share a little secret with you.

I have this wonderful potion which has the ability to make just one of your senses super sharp; vision, hearing, smell, taste, or touch. Just one of them, while dulling the remaining ones.

I offer the same to you. Do you want to sip it? If so, which sense would you choose to be enhanced?

It was a ‘no-brainer’, of course I would want to sip it, and I choose the sense of sight.

After all as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ isn’t it! The things we see tend to remain with us longer than anything we hear, taste, or feel. Yes, while I do remember the wonderfully juicy flavor of the rossogollas that Lakshmi Athai brought all the way from Calcutta, I don’t remember how they looked. While I remember the lovely starched crispness of the Bengal Cotton saree that she bought for Amma, I can’t quite remember what the pattern exactly was. I seriously needed to sharpen my vision, no doubt about that at all.

The holy man then offered the potion and instructed me – Just one small sip, mind you, we don’t want to dull the other senses permanently do we and be left only with vision.

And remember, the potion takes a little bit of time to take effect. You must be patient, and prepare your brain for the ‘visual assault’ in your case, as some of the things you will see going forward might be things that you are not ready to see yet.

Saying so, he made me open my mouth and poured a little of the magic liquid inside.

At first nothing happened. And then slowly I could feel new warmth creeping through my face. Starting from my chin, it moved up to my cheeks, my nose and slowly towards my eyes. And then I could feel the glow radiating through my eyes. It kept increasing slowly, until suddenly I felt a splash of water on them.


Narayana, Narayana, wake up. It is already 11 in the morning, the sun is beating down on your face and still you manage to babble in your sleep  – Amma’s voice was shrill and the cold water that she had sprinkled on my face woke me up.

For somebody who was born blind, you sure do dream a lot ­– she said.


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “You encounter a mysterious man offering you a magic potion that, once sipped, will make one of your senses super sharp but dull the other senses. Will you sip it, and if so, what sense will you choose?” I chose to write the short story of Narayana, the blind protagonist using this prompt.

Born to swim


Shannon was born to swim.

Genetically, she was bound to have inherited some of her love for the water as both her parents, Jim and Jane, were professional swimmers and had even represented their country in the Olympic Games. All of the first five years of her life were spent around water, in swimming pools and on the beaches in Miami, where her parents lived, trained and worked as lifeguards. Her childhood was as fun as it could be.

All that changed on that fateful day in mid August 2005.

The Met Department called it Katrina, and classified it a Category 5 hurricane. It was scheduled to make landfall before sunset that day. But its effects were already visible in the seas where the waves were more than double their normal height. Jim and Jane, along with the rest of their lifeguard team had managed to almost clear the entire stretch of the beach in their control except for a gang of surfers who refused to heed to their warnings.

A couple of them were even foolhardy enough to venture out quite deep into the waters to ride the largest of the waves. Maybe it was the adrenaline pumping through their veins or more likely it was the heroin coursing through their bodies from the ‘hits’ they had taken earlier. One way or the other, they threw caution to the wind and were determined to make the most of the crazily huge waves that day.

While Jim was rational enough to figure out that he didn’t want to risk his life trying to pull these doped kids out of the water, Jane couldn’t quite bring herself to let go. Despite Jim’s best attempts to dissuade her, she ventured out into the waters planning to physically drag the teenage surfers back to the beach.

What she didn’t know at that point was that Katrina had picked up both speed and strength in the course of her journey over the Gulf of Mexico and was now headed straight towards them with unanticipated fury. Jim who was following the hurricane over the lifeguard radar rushed out to try and get Jane back ashore. 8 yr old Shannon was left all alone on the steps of the lifeguard hut peering at the fast disappearing back of her father. She had already lost sight of her mother around five minutes ago.

Ten minutes went by, the waves were bigger now, yet there was no sight of them on the horizon, but Shannon knew they would come back. Twenty minutes went by, the waves were stronger, the rains had started, but Shannon knew they would come back, they had to. Thirty  minutes went by, the rains were stronger now, the waves were darker and larger, and by now Shannon’s hopes had turned to prayers, would they come back. An hour went by, and Shannon had to rush back into the lifeguard hut as Katrina’s outer tentacles had made landfall and the winds and rain were too strong for a young girl to be exposed to the elements.

Shannon now knew that her parents would never come back.

Shannon was born to swim and had it not been for her fear of the water since that fateful day, she probably would have.


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “Tell us something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).” The post above was my interpretation of the prompt from the viewpoint of a teenager who was guaranteed to succeed at swimming, but chose not to even learn to swim due to circumstances.

The Bat Chronicles – An interview


Mr Batman, on this wonderful and momentous occasion of your 75th birthday, we here at Mahabore’s Mumblings would like to wish you a very happy birthday and ask you a few questions, if you are inclined to answer them.

Batman : Go on, what are you going to ask me that I haven’t already answered through my actions over all these years.

First up, and I am sure that you get asked this question all the time. Which of the bad ones do you find the most challenging to deal with?

Batman : That’s quite a simple one and you would surely know this if you have read more than a few of my stories. Hands down, The Joker would have to be the one criminal lunatic that I have the most trouble with.

The problem with him is that I really cannot even begin to fathom what is going on through his mind, with it being so completely irrational and unconventional. That, and the fact that he pretty much stands for everything that I strongly oppose make him my ‘worst enemy’ if I can call him that.

And sir, what about Bane? This guy almost managed to break you in half in your last movie outing?

Batman : Bane, I personally am not too worried about a guy whose weakness is well, a series of small hoses which allow him to breathe. Yes, he did gain an upper hand in the last movie that you saw me in, but then you have to allow for cinematic liberty from the filmmakers. Unless you have me losing out to him, allowing him to run riot (which he did almost literally) and then me coming back to defeat him, the movie will not have enough oomph to carry it through.

Truth be told, other than The Joker, I personally find these other so called villains quite a joke.


Ok sir, enough about the bad guys. Let’s talk about the good ones now. Can you tell us a little bit more about your collaborative experiences such as The Justice League and The Outsiders?

Batman : The Justice League when it lasted was quite fun. We were the original league of superheroes, each one of us with a lot of history, pedigree and good solid reasons why we were the way we were. Superman by virtue of his birth, Green Lantern by virtue of his inheritance of the ring, Wonder Woman by virtue of her divine origins, we were the true superheroes, who were committed to ridding the earth from evil and man, did we do a good job or what.

Later on when romantic and other tensions started brewing within the group, I had no choice but to leave and go on to found The Outsiders. When in the league, I understood that although each one of us there was from ‘outside’ the society in terms of the fact that we were very different when compared to the rest of the world, the rest of them were trying at some level or the other to fit in, but I didn’t want to do that. And that was why when I formed the outsiders, I ended up recruiting similar superheroes like me who wanted to remain ‘outside’ societal norms, hence, the name, The Outsiders.

As the outsiders, we could do things that the league couldn’t while fighting the villains. For example, since we didn’t have the pressure of conforming to societal norms, we could fight the villains and deal with them with extreme severity. We could ‘take the fall’ unlike the league which was kind of a role model to society.

In any case, I have nothing against the league whose intentions are extremely noble, and they still remain good friends with me.


What do you have to say about all the young sidekicks you have mentored over the years?

Batman : It began with Dick Grayson who was the first Robin who went on to become the Nightwing in the future. It was only the first time that I truly found having a sidekick kind of irritating. It kind of ate into my image of being this silent, brooding, lone warrior. But having him around also helped me discover a great deal about myself as well, and the fact that he saved from more than one tight situation goes on to prove that I couldn’t do everything all by myself.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with and mentoring a couple of more Robins and some Batgirls as well. While the experiences have had their shares of ups and downs, I would like to believe that it has overall been a good experience working with all these youngsters and teaching them the tricks of the trade of fighting crime.


Mr Batman, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you on this wonderful 75th birthday of yours. I sincerely wish you at least 75 yrs more so that we could maybe talk to you a little more about the changing contours of crime and crime fighting over the years.

Thank you once again sir.


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was to interview my favorite fictional character, and I chose to interview Batman who remains one of my all time favorite fictional character on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

Two half empty lives – Part 1

Three people walk into a bar, or in their case, a ‘public house’ in the capital city of the kingdom. They formed a curious trio; one of them big, gigantic and endowed with great strength, one of them lithe, athletic and handsome and the third one with a ‘divine aura’ surrounding him. They did not look like people who usually frequented such places.

And to be honest, they were not from the group of people who frequented such places; if anything they belonged to a class of people who were usually served food and drinks in their private chambers and rarely even appeared in public, even less as commoners, as they did right now.

They had a good reason to put aside all ‘formal rules of engagement’ and adopt this unconventional approach. They were on a mission to gauge the public sentiment regarding the ‘powers that be’ of the city they were in; this information would prove invaluable to them in achieving their goal.

The trio of Bhima, Arjuna and Krishna knew that they had a formidable task ahead of them; that of slaying Jarasandha, the ruler of Magadha.



After being crowned the king of Indraprastha, Yudhisthira on the advice of elders and senior counselors sought out to perform the Rajasuya yagna to be crowned Chakravarthi, the king of kings, the emperor.

Krishna then mentioned that Yudhisthira could become an emperor only after he defeated Jarasandha, the king of Magadha. While the Pandavas had heard about the legend of the king and how he had been undefeated for a long time, they did not know his whole story. Upon being requested to do so, Krishna then proceeded to narrate the story to them.


There once lived a might king Vrihadratha, in Magadha. He was handsome, endued with energy and possessed affluence and wealth beyond measure. His glory was comparable with that of Surya, his forgiveness with Prithvi, his wrath with Yama and his wealth to Kubera.

He was married to the twin daughters of the king of Kasi and had an understanding with both of them that he would love them both equally and would not provide only one of them with preferential treatment. However, the king did not manage to have any progeny despite the passage of time. Despite his best efforts and performing various yagnas and sacrifices for being blessed with a child, he was not successful.

One day Vrihadratha heard that the holy man Chanda Kausika, the son of Kakshivat had come to Magadha in the course of his wandering and was now seated under a mango tree in the capital city. The king along with his wives went to the holy man bearing gifts and offered his obeisance to him. Pleased with his offering and his obeisance, the holy man granted the king a boon of his choice.

The king replied O holy one, it is time for me to forsake my kingdom and worldly pleasures and go into the woods to practice ascetic penances. However, I have no son to whom I can hand over my kingdom and do so.

Hearing these words of the king, the holy man closed his eyes and concentrated hard in his mind. Suddenly a mango from the tree he was sitting under fell on his lap. He took up the fruit, and chanting a few mantras, gave it to the king. O king, desist from going into the forest yet. Your wish is hereby fulfilled.

Hearing these words and filled with hope, the king and his wives returned to the palace. Keeping in mind the promise he had made to them, the king cut the mango into two equal halves and gave one half to each of his wives. And as an effect of the holy man’s powers, both the queens conceived with a child each. The king’s joy knew no bounds that day.

After a few months when both the queens delivered their babies, the king was shocked. Both of them delivered babies that were fragmented; each baby was born with one eye, one arm, one leg, half a stomach and half a face. The two midwives who oversaw the delivery of the babies wrapped them up, took them outside the palace by the back door and threw them away.

A rakshasha woman by name Jara happened to pass by on the path that these two half-babies lay. She took up the fragments and as if by force of fate she united the fragments of the babies with an intention of carrying away the babies. As soon as the fragments were united they formed a sturdy child of one body endued with life.

Then suddenly Jara found herself unable to carry the child which seemed to have a body as strong and hard as a thunderbolt. The infant then closed his fists, inserted them into his mouth as babies do and began to make a noise. The noise was akin to rain charged clouds thundering loudly.

Alarmed at this sound, the inmates of the palace including king Vrihadratha himself and his queens came running out. Seeing the lactating mothers, the sonless king, Jara thought to herself – I live within the dominion of a king who strongly desires progeny. It does not bode me well to think of killing this child.

Suddenly assuming a human form gave the child to the king O Vrihadratha, this is your child, given back to you by me. Take it, as it has been born of both your wives by virtue of the command of the holy man. Cast away by the midwives, your son has been returned to you by Jara.

Having spoken these words Jara disappeared from there.

The king took the child and performed all the rites of infancy thereof. He named the child Jarasandha – the child which had been united by Jara. As the boy grew up he was endued with great energy and began to grow in bulk and strength like fire on which clarified butter had been poured.

<< Part 2 >>


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “Three people walk into a bar …” and I took the liberty of using this prompt as the first post in a series about the story of Jarasandha, the ruler of Magadha.