Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Story, house house (Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki)

I never knew that grocery shopping could be stressful. The simple act of getting products for daily consumption should be fun but can sometimes lead to anger and verbal abuse.

As a newly married girl and living with in-laws, grocery shopping was a tough task for me. Having stayed on my own before marriage, I had my own budget and my own list of things required for survival. The list after marriage was quite dry and uninteresting, who can get excited about buying rice, lentils and oil. In addition, the idea of changing brands I preferred was like giving away my child for adoption. I survived and so did my in-laws, now I am a bit wiser and somewhat flexible.

In India, grocery shopping was once a month chore. Buy raw materials from either a supermarket or your trusted, used for generations’ grocery shop and then transform it into something palatable. In 'phoren' lands, grocery shopping becomes almost a weekly affair and sometimes more often. Since there are no milkmen dropping off packets of milk, storing milk becomes a major concern. Moreover, there are no shops just across the road and no home delivery of grocery, no dialing the phone and saying ‘Bhaiyya, jara ek bread aur sugar bhej denge apartment 18 mein’.
The first step is making a list (I always forget to take it with me, but I never forget to make one). This means you go and check all the nooks and crannies in your kitchen closets to check what goes on the ‘To-Buy’ list. Since we are taking pains to reduce our carbon footprint, we carry our own jute bags and say no to plastic (one good deed, a little less guilt), this is the second step. The third step is when we enter the supermarket and Hubs gives me a practiced look of disapproval as I scoot off towards the cosmetics section as if on a treasure hunt (I have obsession about all things which smell nice).

Last week, hubs and I went to for our usual shopping expedition. This time I had asked hubs to check the freezer for stuff we needed. I had friends coming over for a couple of days visit and did not want to run to the supermarket when they were here. Since I had planned to make ‘Matar Paneer’ (Peas and cottage cheese curry), I had asked hubs to check if we had frozen peas. With confidence oozing out of every pore, he had thumped his chest and said ‘ We have one unopened bag of peas’, Looking at his self confidence, I kept my mouth shut in spite of having a funny tingling sensation in my gut, when we were standing right in front of the frozen vegetable section.

The next day, I started cooking a couple of hours before my friends were to arrive. With a song on my lips and a smile on my face, I went to get the ingredients for ‘Matar Paneer’. I dipped my hands in the freezer and pulled out a crumpled bag of peas with a handful of them resting at the bottom. I started rooting around for that mysterious unopened bag. I pulled out frozen mix vegetables, Sweetcorn, peppers, chicken, and a forgotten bag of frozen cauliflower. I emptied the entire freezer and still no sign of the Peas. By this time my worst fears were coming true, I had no peas. I had perfected the recipe and was looking forward to showing it off to my friends so I had to make it.

After flinging, a few choice swear words in hubs direction, I scratched my head and then picked up the bag of frozen mix vegetables. I knew it had a mixture of beans, carrots, Sweetcorn, and peas. Voila! I dumped the entire contents into a pot and saw peas nestled amongst other vegetables. Only thing left was, to go peas picking.

It took me half an hour to separate the peas from its other brethren to get a decent amount along with the handful in the crumpled bag I had found earlier for the curry.
My friends loved the curry and all that hard work paid off.

Note to self: Clean out the freezer more often and always listen to your gut while shopping even if the love of your life is thumping his chest with confidence.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Beautiful Britain

I have been living in the UK for more than 2.5 years now. Here are a few of the pictures of my trips across this beautiful country.

Ingleton Waterfalls

The famous Ingleton Waterfalls Trail has some of the most spectacular waterfall and woodland scenery in the North of England. The trail is 4.5 miles/8 kilometres through ancient oak woodland and magnificent Dales scenery via a series of spectacular waterfalls and geological features.

Crook O' Lune

The River Lune meanders through a timeless landscape of lush pastures and ancient stone villages, many of which feature historic churches and wonderful traditional pubs. The Lune valley provided poetic inspiration for the likes of Thomas Gray, John Ruskin and William Worsdworth and locations such as Crook O’ Lune, a shepherd’s crook-shaped bend in the river, moved the landscape artist J M W Turner to produce numerous rustic masterpieces.

Snowdonia - Wales

Mount Snowdon, in Welsh, Yr Wyddfa, meaning 'the tumulus', dominates the landscape of North Wales, soaring to 3,560 feet (1,085m) and is the highest mountain in Wales or England. The Snowdon range consists of eleven peaks, three of which surpass 3,000 feet.


Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist destination, in the centre of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake of Grasmere, and is associated with the Lake Poets. The poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for fourteen years, described it as "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found".

I have tons of photos and it was quite difficult to pick and choose these snaps. Britain is a beautiful country which definitely takes your breath away.

Finally, here are some wacky snaps.

What an Enlightening Notice!!!

Thank you for being direct :)

A Unique flower POT

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Survival - 3

Tracy opened her window and she heard the woman screaming ‘Please save me, I don’t want to die’. Tracy quickly unlocked the doors and gestured the woman to come from the passenger side. The woman ran towards the other side, but before she could open the door, a hand yanked the car door open and pulled Tracy out of the car. Tracy’s scream died in her throat, she heard a woman scream just before her mouth is sealed with a tape and a black cloth fell over her eyes.

Tracy’s hands are tied at the back and she is dragged along roughly. She heard a man’s voice very close to her ears ‘Nosy Bitch, just do as you are told and you will live’. Tracy shivered with horror, everything had happened so fast that she was in a daze. She heard the painful cries of the woman; whose screams are laced with terror. She heard the man say ‘start walking both of you’, being blindfolded it was difficult for her to walk without the fear of falling down. She felt fingers gently grasping her arm and guiding her as she walked.

Tracy was sure it was the woman, who was helping her; she whispered to her “Who is this man? Where is he taking us?” The woman whispered back “He is taking us to hell.” Tracy knew she had to escape before they reached the place called Hell. She thought the best way to do was to take sudden action and catch the captor unawares.

Tracy pretended to stumble and fall down. She quickly sat up, folded her knees, and looped her tied hands in front of her by bringing her feet up and through her hands. She then yanked the black cloth from her face. The sunlight struck her eyes and blinded her for a moment; Tracy blinked her eyes and looked straight into her captor’s eyes. He had piercing grey eyes, brown hair and was quite tall and hefty. She kicked the captor between his legs and screamed to the woman “Run, now.” The man was hurt but not badly and it would not be long before he came after them.

Tracy turned and ran like the wind. She heard the sound of broken twigs behind her. With adrenaline pumping in her whole body, Tracy ran for her life. She wanted to turn back and check if the woman was following her but she was scared to lose her footing. As she ran, the trees started crowding around her, the branches scraping her arms and tearing her top. She stopped for a minute to cut the tape binding her hands by rubbing it across a jagged branch. Even in that bizarre situation, Tracy remembered her dream, the line between dream and reality had blurred.

Tracy heard something whiz past her head, she heard gunfire, and then the woman screamed in agony. Tracy turned back and saw that the woman was not too far away. There was a red stain on her left arm where the bullet had hit her. The man was holding the woman by her hair and the gun was pointing at her. She turned on her feet and started running, she heard the gunfire but Tracy was amongst the trees and the bullet missed her and entered a tree. She ran as fast as her feet could move. She knew if she went back to save the woman, it would turn to be disastrous for both of them. The best way was to get help as fast as she could.

Tracy wanted to catch her breath; she was thirsty and tired after running continuously for more than twenty minutes. She willed her feet to move. She kept running, the trees thinned out and she could hear the sound of cars close by. Relief flooded her body, Tracy burst through the trees and saw that she was on the highway and there were cars passing by. Tracy waved frantically for the cars to stop; her dishevelled appearance was making it difficult. Eventually as a car pulled over, Tracy ran towards the car, the words tumbled out of her mouth at frenetic speed. The man and woman in the car looked at her in disbelief, it all sounded as a part of a movie. They all waited for the police to come and check Tracy’s story.

The police combed the woods with Tracy and with the light fading as evening approached, it was important to move fast. They discovered blood at a spot deep in the woods. The blood trail leads them deeper inside, after walking for a few miles the trail suddenly disappeared. The police dogs picked up the trail and started circling a spot and digging furiously till their paws made scratching noises on a metallic surface.

A trap door in the middle of nowhere was an ominous sign. The police lifted the trap door and found a wooden staircase, which lead to a narrow passage dimly lit by candles. There were wooden doors on both sides of the passage; Tracy followed the policemen into the dungeon and started knocking on doors. There were screams and shouts of women from behind the locked doors.

Tracy woke up with a pounding headache, her body felt bruised and battered. She dragged herself out of the bed, made some coffee, and switched on the television. Her story was playing over all the news channels. She shivered as she remembered the terrified eyes of the women, she had never imagined that her innocent detour in the woods would help to break a ring of human traffickers who abducted women and sold them to suitable buyers across the world.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring Beauty

Here are a few pictures of the Lancaster Canal which is a stone's throw away from my house. A beautiful and tranquil location for a walk, a cup of coffee and conversations. 

How I envy these people, who live in these houses hugging the canal

          A bright spring morning and the boat people are flocking to the canal

The Water witch Pub

Lancaster University Student Accommodation

                              Yummy Cappuccino at The Water Witch Pub

                                       The canal frozen in the winter

                                         And here are a few funny signs

Sign outside the Pub

Sign at a desi/Indian store

Monday, 15 March 2010

Survival - Part 2

She quickly finished drinking water and washed her face. Tracy did not hear the snap of a twig. She did not hear the rustle of leaves. The cascading water had masked all the sounds. As Tracy was tying her shoelaces, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She stiffened with fear. She kept praying, turned to face the person, and screamed.

Tracy got up with a sudden start, her heart beating wildly and the sheets drenched with sweat. She fumbled for the bedside lamp and switched it on and saw that it was nearly six in the morning. The dream was still lingering in her mind, so vivid and terrifying. She got up from the bed and splashed water on her face and tried to shake off the images which were still clear in her head.

She got dressed, picked her cell phone, laced her shoes and decided to go for a run. She blamed the entire dream on the movie she had seen with friends the previous night. Tracy backed out her car and drove to a nearby trail, where she loved to jog. Tracy parked her car, did some warm up exercises and started jogging on the trail. 

The trail passed through woods dotted with pine trees and snaked upwards towards a small hill. She loved running this trail since it was at a remote location, where not many people ventured and she could run in peace. The best part of the run was after she reached the top of the hill where could catch the spectacular sunrise. There were many side trails which ran deeper in the woods but Tracy had always kept to the same path.

It was not yet dawn and there was a thin blanket of fog covering the woods. The woods were quiet, as if waiting to get up from their deep slumber. Tracy was jogging at a steady speed her breath coming in bursts. She reached the top of the hill just as the sun was rising. She sat down to breathe in the sun’s rays as they fell on her face. The warm rays of the sun dispelled the strange dream that had woken her. 

Tracy got up and started her run back down the hill. She decided to take one of the side trails and explore the woods. The sunlight was yet to penetrate the woods and it was still misty and chilly. The pine needles carpeted the forest floor. Tracy walked on through the woods, all was quiet and peaceful. She came to a clearing and saw a stream flowing across. She leaned down to have a drink of water. Her eyes rested on a white object lying on the other the bank. She waded through the shallow stream and crossed over to the other side and saw that it was a woman’s running shoe. She picked it up and saw that the top was spotted with blood. Tracy’s hands began shaking and she dropped the shoe and remembered the dream in which she had seen the same stream. 

On one hand, she wanted to search for the owner of the shoe but her fear was clouding her judgment. She calmed herself, picked up the shoe and started combing the woods. Her senses were on high alert for even the slightest sound. After walking some distance she found the other shoe. Tracy decided to take them with her and give them to the nearest police station. She turned to go back to her car and heard a twig snap behind her. Her heart gave a massive jolt; she turned to see a shadow running in her direction.

Tracy started running as fast as she could. Her long legs and confident strides made it easier in spite of the panic which was driving her adrenaline through the roof. She crashed through the trees and saw her car. She pulled out the keys from her pocket and unlocked the car and jumped in. She locked the doors and started her car. Just as she was about to zoom off, there was a loud banging on the window. Tracy jumped with fear and saw that it was a woman in torn clothes and blood on her face who was banging on her window. The woman was breathing hard and was frantically looking behind her. 

Tracy opened her window and she heard the woman screaming ‘Please save me, I don’t want to die’. Tracy quickly unlocked the doors and gestured the woman to come from the passenger side. The woman ran towards the other side, but before she could open the door a hand yanked the car door open and pulled Tracy out of the car. Tracy’s scream died in her throat, she heard a woman scream just before her mouth was sealed with a tape and a black cloth fell over her eyes. 

P.S: To read the first part of Tracy's story, click here
I am very thankful to my readers who appreciated my attempt to write fiction.  

Want to know how it ends? Click here

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Phone Call

The phone call has stunned me. I need to sit down and take a breath before I faint.
I look down at my forearm and see the numbers etched for a lifetime. The loose skin on it has made it difficult to read but even now, I can feel the pain.

I rub my fingers across the number and I remember the day as clearly as if it was happening right now and I am just a spectator watching it from the sidelines. The whole thing was surreal.

I remember sitting in the cattle train with my sister Eva, which was filled with so many people that we had to take turns to sit down to rest. Our journey had taken three nights, three nights without food and water, three nights of terror and exhaustion. On the fourth day when the train stopped, we were roughly pulled out on a platform filled with men, women and children. The guards were dressed in Nazi uniforms controlling the ferocious dogs barking at us.

Eva is just fourteen and I, Lisa am 16 years old. Our parents and younger brother had boarded a different train; I miss them and fear for them. We had seen other people being pushed onto trucks and who had never come back. We had heard of rumors that people were being killed and burnt in concentration camps. Both of us huddle close to each other as we are very scared and cold. We are herded with other women and made to march towards a gate. As we walk in the bitter cold, Eva and I lock hands.

We walk on and after sometime I see many brick buildings which are all surrounded by wire fencing.  I see smoke coming out of a row of chimneys and a stench which I cannot decipher. I also see people with shaved heads wearing dirty striped pajamas. They all have hungry and sunken eyes. They are emaciated and look like walking skeletons. I am scared by their appearance.

Our group comes to a halt behind another row of women. The line is slowly inching forward and I can hear shouts and cries of women. I am so exhausted that I am numb. My legs are shaking and I am barely able to stand. Eva is standing next to me, tears trickling down her eyes. She too is shaking violently. Eva had always been a frail child. Her frame is so small that she actually looks like a ten year old. As our line moves ahead, the cries of women get louder and fear grips my heart.

As we move to the head of the line. Eva’s name is called out and she approaches the man sitting in uniform with some papers on the desk in front of him. There are other desks with other uniformed men who are all sitting in a row. I hear my name being called out and I approach the man. He asks if my name is Lisa Horowitz and I nod my head. He then asks me to strip my clothes, I am horrified and I refuse. I suddenly fall down to the ground as a cane hits me on my back. The pain is unbearable. I raise my eyes to see a woman in uniform holding a cane ready to beat me if I refused again. I get up out of sheer terror and start undressing. I see that other women are undressing too. Far on the left I see Eva standing naked, her head shaved, trying to cover herself with her hands. She is so thin that I can see she is just a mass of bones.

I undress completely and now my teeth are chattering so badly that I feel that any moment they are going to fall off. As my head is shaved, I see another woman dressed in striped clothes collecting the hair that is falling down. I want to run to Eva, to hold her and comfort her. She is my baby sister and I want to protect her. The laughter, the fights and the secrets we had shared while growing up, now just seem to be a distant dream.

All of us are again herded towards another desk. A white coated man is checking each woman out to see if she is healthy. I see him check Eva to see if she is fit for work. He pulls at her cheeks and the skin on her arms. He scribbles something on the paper and Eva is asked to stand in a group with people who are old and frail. She starts sobbing and that is when I realize that my sister was going to die. She was going to be gassed to death as she is too young to work.

I cry out: Oh! Please, she is my sister and she is fourteen and very strong. She will do any kind of work. Please, please let her come with me. I promise she will work.

Eva, I love you. Please be brave. I love you darling sister. I will always love you.

I stand there helpless as she is made to walk with the others to a brick building. I can see smoke rising furiously from the chimneys. I see her pleading eyes and then the door is banged shut and locked. That was the last time I ever saw Eva, my darling sister.

I suddenly feel the wetness on my cheeks. I wipe my tears. It has been more than 65 years since that terrible cold winter morning at Auschwitz.

How can I be crying today? My Eva is alive, she is a grandmother now. I have just spoken to her on the phone. There is a surge of emotions and I feel as if my heart will not be able to bear this happiness. Eva was never killed in the gas chamber. That is all I know right now. My grandson has traced her. He traced her with the help of kind people who have set up an organization to help the survivors of the Holocaust.

She is coming to meet me tomorrow. I have so many questions, I have so much to talk and listen. I want to hold her and tell her how much I love her and that I always loved her.

P.S: This is a work of fiction. I have been reading books and watching documentaries about the Holocaust for quite some time which inspired me to write this story. This is my tribute to the victims of Holocaust, one of the most deplorable acts carried out by the human race.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A contest and an Entry

Hi friends,

The good folks at Indimag have launched a writing contest 'Kathasagar' and I have taken part in it.
You can find my story 'Killer Instinct' if you head over to Indimag website.

I would truly appreciate if you could log in at Indimag and cast your vote 'for me' to help me win this competition. I know it is a pain to log in at a random website to cast your vote. Even if you hate the story still cast your vote, cause I know how much you love me.

Thank you for your vote and I definitely owe you one.

Here is a teaser for you :)

Jake saw Helen walking in front of him. The crunch of leaves under their feet resounded in the lonely woods.  She was excited about their weekend away from the city. Jake remembered the first day he had met Helen.

They had met during group grief counseling. Helen had found her fiance David murdered in their Apartment. She was trying to deal with his death and her own feelings. She had spoken about her nightmares and dreams during grief counseling. They all had to talk about the loss and how they were dealing with it.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Mistaken Identity

She was running through the dark streets of a ghost town. She could hear the snap of a wolf’s jaw near her ankles. All around her were lonely streets. The houses had an abandoned look. She started knocking on doors to escape the pack of wolves. She twisted the knob of one door and suddenly she heard a loud ringing.

Raksha woke up with a start to hear her mobile phone ringing. She grabbed the phone and wondered who was calling her at this hour. It was her boss at the law firm. He had called to inform her that the police had apprehended the serial rapist who was suspected of raping at least forty women.

She checked her bedside clock and saw that it was already 5.30 am. She threw her covers aside and went to the bathroom. She might as well start the day early. There was a lot of work to be done.

Her firm was representing two of the victims and they needed justice. Raksha was a criminal attorney and had a fantastic track record of putting criminals behind bars. She was going to be the lead counsel in this case.

Raksha got dressed, gathered up the files in a briefcase and hopped in her car to go to work. Her mind kept going back to the terrified faces of her clients. She was haunted by their stories. The life of the victims was in tatters after the incident. Even though they tried putting up a brave face, both of them were facing a uphill task of getting their life back.

Raksha reached her office. She started working and time flew by. The photos of the man they had apprehended and also documents relating to his arrest were strewn over her desk when she heard a knock on the door. She looked up to see that it was her mother who had come to take her for lunch. Her mother gave her a smile and came inside the office.

And suddenly she saw her mother falling down. Raksha rushed to her mother’s side and sprinkled water on her face to revive her. Her mother opened her eyes and looked up at her with pleading eyes and said ‘I am sorry’.

Raksha’s head was reeling after the conversation with her mother. She felt as if she was back in her dream. She did not know who she was anymore. Her identity had been wiped clean in a matter of two hours. She felt someone had punched her in the stomach.

Her mother had been a single parent and had raised Raksha alone. She had been a father and mother to her. Though Raksha missed a father figure in her life she was happy to be the daughter of such a strong woman. But today’s revelation had shaken Raksha to the core. She walked in daze towards the courtroom.

She saw a lot of commotion at the door with photographers and press snapping pictures. She walked towards the door and saw through the crowd. Her eyes met the cold piercing eyes of the rapist. She was looking into the eyes of her father, her biological father.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

You are beautiful

Netra moved her hand over her scalp. It felt as soft as a baby’s bottom. She looked up to see herself in the mirror. She wanted to distance herself from the image. Her mind screamed in protest…this is not me it is someone else.

She looked at the wig in her hand and remembered her long silky brown hair. Her hair had been an object of envy for many of her friends. It now lay in a heap at the bottom of a trashcan. All the things she had taken for granted were coming back to haunt her.

She had been steadily losing hair once the chemotherapy had started. Netra had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She remembered the day she was diagnosed and a shiver ran down her spine. Her life had seemed completely futile to her that day. On the outside, she had put up a brave face for her son and daughter. On the inside, she had shattered into a million pieces. The reaction ‘these things always happened to other people and now how could it happen to me?’ had kept echoing in her mind. Ultimately, she had to face the truth.

Her family members were supportive. Her husband was a pillar of strength in this crisis. Her sister was now staying with her to help with the children. Her mother and her sister took turns to be with her during chemo sessions. Her sister, made her laugh, regaling her with their childhood pranks. They spoke about movies, books, and even crushes they had while growing up. Her father helped with the grocery shopping and paying the bills.

Netra and her husband Arun were like many other couples. After the initial excitement in their marriage, things had cooled off and the stress of working and raising kids had made it difficult to capture the romance and spark of the initial years of their marriage. They had drifted apart, each involved in their own career. Her illness had now brought them closer.

Netra had shaved off her head and had started wearing a wig once she started losing hair. She had never taken it off, even while sleeping. Only time she took it off was when she was alone in the bathroom. She was scared that her husband would stop loving her once he saw her.

Today she had decided to take a step forward and not wear the wig. She did not want to hide behind the wig anymore. She walked in the room feeling helpless and naked. Her husband looked at her and said ‘Hey, how are you feeling?’ ‘How was your day?’ Netra was puzzled by his reaction. She finally asked him ‘Arun, have you stopped loving me? I am bald…if you have not noticed it’

Arun got up and stood in front of her. He said ‘Yes I did notice, but all I know is that you’re so beautiful and I am falling in love with you all over again’.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Betrayal- A fiction story

He watched them through his night binoculars. Andre was sitting in his car outside the fancy Italian Restaurant on Aldcliffe Road. They had been sipping champagne in flute glasses and munching on cheese. 

He saw his wife Anna, whisper something in her friends ears and they both laughed. Anna looked radiant in her black dress and the diamond earrings he had given her on their 15th wedding Anniversary. Her friend was a handsome man and they both looked good together. Andre was in love with his wife and it made him angry when he saw that his wife did not love him anymore.

Anna was a beautiful woman and all eyes were on her whenever she entered any room. It had made him proud but also insecure many times. A few months back he had felt her drifting away from him. He had blamed it on his imagination and work stress which kept him away from her. He could not pinpoint to what made him feel this way. She behaved the same way as before but he knew something had changed between them. 

Today, he had decided to follow her and find out the truth. Andre had told her that he would be away for two days on a business trip.  He had sat in a rented car in front of his own house and watched her through the binoculars as she got ready for her evening. He saw her get into car and drive to the restaurant. He saw her meet this stranger at the restaurant.

He could see that they both knew each other very well. It was not a first date and they looked comfortable with each other.  The man was lean, tall and well dressed. He had charm and sophistication. It seemed to Andre that Anna was very serious about this affair and that she had started loving this stranger.

Andre felt angry and betrayed. All throughout the marriage he had been faithful to her and had loved her. He had worked hard to provide for them. He did not deserve this. His blood boiled at the thought of his wife in this strangers arm.  How could she have fallen out of love with him? He had many questions he wanted to ask her. 

As Anna and her friend moved to the last course in their meal, Andre watched them through the Binoculars. His anger had reached dangerous levels and he wanted to confront his wife. He saw them finish their meal and come out of the restaurant. The stranger called for his car and his wife slid in the passenger seat. They drove off and Andre started following them.

After thirty minutes the car stopped in front of a big house. Anna and the stranger got out of the car and moved towards the front door. The door clicked shut after them and the lights came on inside the house.

Andre checked his gun. He cocked off the safety and got out of the car. He went and rang the doorbell. Anna opened the door. Her face went white when she saw the gun in his hands. She was speechless and backed off in the living room 

Andres’s eyes were filled with hatred. He shot her pointblank in her face, all the time screaming why? Why did you do it? Why did you not love me anymore?

Anna collapsed in a heap on the floor. The stranger rushed to Anna’s side. Andre dropped the gun to the floor and in daze sat on the chair behind him. He looked up to see a decorated sign above the fireplace. It said


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