Thank you for making as Peoples’ Media!

Spearhead Media popularly known as ‘Peoples’ Corporate!’ that started its ambitious journey into the Media world in November 2013 from Mangaluru, a coastal city of Karnataka, is today, celebrating with you, the dawn of the decennial year of its flagship media subsidiary – This much-loved Karnataka-focused news web portal began its operations as a Kannada news portal on this very day in 2012.  

The evolution of

That preceded the corporate setup may be a dichotomy. But like everything in this world, the natural evolutionary process that governed its establishment and has brought us to where we are today – a media house focused on and for entire Karnataka and Kannadigas around the globe, that was intended to become, and indeed has become the voice of the people, by the people and for the people of Karnataka. It was the vision of six idealistic youth that delivered this gem, and they continue to be associated with it and its development.

Its editorial independence is unparalleled in the industry, and its integrity never in question. Its response to all its stakeholders has been one of immediacy with integrity and impartiality. It is a corporate entity no doubt, but a peoples’ corporate – for the people, of the people, and by the people (all stakeholders including its 45 shareholders, over 100 contributors, its numerous advertising partners, its individual benefactors, and of course its internal team of young and dynamic as well as veteran journalists that renews itself periodically!)

The evolutionary process – a few of us internally call it the revolutionary process – has taken us on a journey that has been creative, exciting, exacting, challenging, rewarding and at some points, disappointing. But we have always remained positive in a negative world, overcame those disappointments, and stayed the course – for both your sake and ours. 

This evolutionary process established Spearhead Media Pvt. Ltd also helped establish the company’s other media products – http://www., a Kannada news portal, (newskarnataka was transformed into an English news portal in March 2013), Karnataka Today, a monthly English all colour English feature magazine launched in 2015, NK + a bilingual digitally distributed e-magazine targeting the youth of the state, NKTV on the YouTube platform for infotainment shows, NKLive to cover live events, e-learning platform, verdevice – design and digital media hub, Village TV, a social initiative and SAAMS, a media study centre. It must; we live in a dynamic, volatile world… especially in the media industry – but I will come to that later.

Blessings and challenges

There is no doubt, with India ranking 142 out of 180 on the freedom of the press index developed by the Media Watchdog Reporters Without Borders, the need of the hour for India is free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism as the country faces multiple challenges. But can the media as it exists today, in its current environment provide it?  

The media industry, all of it, but especially the news media is in a crisis of its own. Dropping revenues has forced brutal layoffs and pay cuts. Advancing technology is changing reading modes and habits. Information exchange is instant as is opinion formation. The best of leather and investigative journalism (ground-level reporting) is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacles that create a pre-determined and agenda-based narrative, rather than provide both sides of a story and its back story for informed decision-making – a journalistic maxim that has long been forgotten in the quest for eyeballs and its by-product, advertising revenue!

Be that as it may, it has been 9 years since we started out. We sat down yesterday to count our blessings and enumerate our challenges – the blessings of wonderful, talented, loyal stakeholders, and gifts of integrity, resilience and perseverance amongst our team and we were grateful. 

We then also listed our challenges –  compliance with the newly issued regulations for digital media that could turn out to be a Damocles sword if applied selectively; a  drop in advertising – the market all but collapsed after series of financial reforms and this has been compounded by the COVID lockdowns; the availability of appropriate human resources – which must be consistently paid a fair wage for fair talent; grabbing and retaining eyeballs, in the face of fierce competition from digital websites, both national and local, and of course social media and other news aggregators. 

What is required? An enduring USP

Each one of us in the industry must have a USP to sustain through the climate change – from print to radio to TV to digital Media to Social Media to OTT platforms that are taking the Visual Media Market by storm. 

Fortunately, from the start, we have had one – truth endures – and it has helped us endure over time. But the future may not want the truth as we see it, but as they see it and that will be the greater challenge. Short and quick reads with headlines that say it all. After all, who is interested in the detail of why the dog wagged its tail? That it wagged will be sufficient. For the rest, we can form our own conclusions, based on our perception of the event, which in turn is based on our experiences, mindset and inherent biases’!

What then should we publish?

There is another more serious challenge that all of us in the media industry (other than social media which is populated through influencers) face in our race to grab eyeballs and keep them – What to publish and what not to. 

Man lives by his senses and emotionally drawn to anything that tickles his senses – what does that? Fear, conflict, negligence, the unusual, David vs Goliath scenarios, failure, exercise or lack of exercise of power, comparisons, and listicles that feature the best and the worst in the world and us. Reporting these events are the new normal, while the triumphs of kindness and love of the normal kind, resilience in the face of adversity, innovation for a better and sustainable tomorrow for the next generations, alternative maps of development and people power are often ignored. 

Given the realities of our times, it is best to have a balance. And has been trying to do just that – the evidence is in our special section – the regular columns that focus on travel, women, humour, health and wellness, and the best of human nature.

The future as we see it

Your favourite media group is looking to consolidate its presence in the market over the next five years – through new visually impressive, interactive, and responsive websites, a more attractive Karnataka Today magazine with more subscribers for both print and its revamped e-edition, better and more programming on its web channels, an exclusive OTT platform and more effective presence on social media which is evolving by the day. It will also look to comply with all regulations that are thrown at it, and weave a fabric of news, views and visuals that will keep all Kannadigas, wherever they may be warm, involved and committed to our beautiful state.  

We look forward to your continued support for our quality journalism. In the meanwhile, we look forward to your continued support for the cause of quality journalism through your monetary, advertising support and of course your continued readership.

Miles to go before sleep and let’s walk together to rededicate as Peoples’ Media!

Au revoir…

Brian Fernandes

Director – Spearhead Media Private Limited

A Nurse nurses

A Nurse nurses

As does a mother,

For she’s a mother too

Still the nurse,

She wakes up and sighs,

Who shall I nurse today?

A choice I have is to stay away

Nurse my baby, and pray,

That the pandemic does not stray

Into my home, my life.

As a daughter, as a mother,

 as a wife

The telephone rings

It goes, Tring Tring Tring

I know it’s the distress ping,

From a desperate matron

Whose feet are beginning to sting

I know what she’ll say

Please come over,

Patients are dying, I’m not lying. 

She’s appealing

To the nurse in me.

And she knows I’m crying.

Im dead on my feet,

A sleepless night, a wake up fight

And now a telephone ring

Just as my baby delights.

But it’s over, when

She wails and flails

I rush to her,

I’m naturally besotten

Let those dying wail!

 But wait. I’m a nurse,

A Nurse who nurses.

For us, it’s never over.

Is it a curse?

My mind  is split open

Like the ripped bedsheet

that last night,

I used to wrap that dead meat.

His family, they were distraught,

but saluted me from afar,

Next stop, the  pyre.

I went home, I held her close.

I was stuck in the mire.

I felt dire.

Tring, Tring, Tring

Duty calls, here and away

Which way should  I sway?

If I stay, I’ll be out of pocket,

My baby, she’ll cry

And all I’ll be able to do,

Is to hold her locket,

If I go, I’ll save a life,

But mine?

Photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash

The Medicament G15 summit: the fight to win

They met to decide the future course of action, the heroes of the fight against Covid19 second wave in India. They came from all over, but the conference was dominated by the Atmanirbhar India faction.  Generics tried to get an invite but were left out by consensus among the core group.

The Medicaments shook hands, by all appearances, cordially, and they all took their seats. the groupism evident in the way they sat (I got the spelling right, didn’t I?) themselves.

It was to be a celebratory meeting, of their joint fight against an invisible enemy that only they could see – Covid…

They were all there – Betadine, Vitamin C, Zincovit, Azithral, Doxycycline, Ivermectin, Dexamethasone, Budesonide, Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Virafen and 2DG. Oxygen, Covax and Covisheild – the vaccines, were special invitees, but they did not arrive until the meeting was midway through its deliberations!

Covid tried to surreptitiously get an invite by attaching itself to Betadine, but it was spit out at the start itself… It then tried its luck with Azithral but was suffocated by its advances and had to beat a retreat from the driveway itself!

The Conference began with a prayer of thanksgiving and the hope of a continued crisis, that would help them transform them into saviours, build themselves a healthy bank balance and loyal following, which many of them did. The prayer was led by Vit C, who was aware of the double standards of the people in the room, but there was no other way, given the circumstances and their destiny.

Remdesivir then took the Chair. He believed he had a right to be there because he commanded respect in the market (black) and he was the main hope of the woken dead.  Oxygen tried to battle him for the chair, but the rest of the members felt he was an outsider; also, that he was helping people revive quicker than was necessary, giving them less time to contribute their bit. So, in the end, it was Remdesivir in the chair. Surprisingly, he was quite democratic in his approach; he said he would give each a chance to say their bit.

Betadine began with a gurgle, but nobody could make out what he was saying, and nobody cared; he commanded a lot of respect as he was in and out of people’s throats, often for a month at a time; he had made a fortune in the interim. But as he concluded, he voiced the politically incorrect thoughts of most of the participants of the conference, “we know, this Covid must be banished from our sight by our efforts, but what will become of us then?”

There was a moment’s pin-drop silence before others cried “yes, that is true”. Vitamin C and Zincovit, the eternal favourites, kept quiet. They were not really worried about the future, as they had their fingers in many flues, and if this one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, then it was just another fly in their ointment. But they could not say that openly.

The problem was with how the rest of the crowd in the room viewed the trio – with ire; they were aware of it.  They had supported Betadine in trying to block others from deriving benefit from Covid and earned their wrath.  They knew the handshakes and smiles were superficial.

But, to their dismay, they had let Covid slip through a few, and in the last two months, more than a few! They also knew from experience, Covid was a smart dude who would slip through when their guard was down. “He may be even with us here in this room who knows”, Zincovit said, “watching our every move”, thinking aloud!

The rest of them, who usually took care of the rest of the Covid and gave the Positives a little R&R (rest and relief) said confidently, though their hearts were quivering, “don’t worry; we will take care of him if he enters the room.  We will combine to smash him to smithereens as we always do!”.

Tocilizumab remained silent and when the din died down, Remdesivir asked him to speak up, but he stumbled while pronouncing his name, and Tocilizumab took umbrage. His chest swelled with the swelling he normally controlled, and he let them have it. He said, “you all don’t get it, do you? this guy is not going away in a hurry, and we will all have a role to play for some time. So do not get worked up. But he might change his colours and some of us might become redundant. We can’t change our colours can we”?

“He’s right”, said Ivermectin, feeling like the worm he normally treats – He was upset because he was already removed from the treatment protocol after being a protocol star for some time.  He continued, “WHO the hell does he think he is” giving vent to his personal feelings.

The Steroids in the room remained quiet. They nodded or shook their heads without saying a word. They were numb after all their exertions keeping all the eruptions they encountered, calm and contained. They really had nothing to say for they could not help with eradicating Covid, only control his shenanigans. They would, like Vit. C always be relevant, and this discussion seemed pointless to them.

Virafen and 2DG from the Atmanirbhar faction watched each one’s expressions carefully and plotted their own strategy. They were new entrants and were still finding their feet! Often, they exchanged glances, sometimes of derision, and at other times of vision. They would be the stars of the next surge. They knew it.  Their time in the sun would come.

Oxygen who had entered midway through the meet was not allowed to speak at all, because all knew he was in short supply and they considered him only as an adjunct to themselves. They were the stars, though he stole the spotlight. They were understandingly bitter.

The vaccines thought it best not to speak in this charged atmosphere. They knew if they were efficient, the rest of the guys in the room would be at their throats because then they would be out of business. And they knew they were not 100%.., yet. But they would keep working towards that goal, no matter the consequences.

Remdesivir summed it up with a smile.

Let us give him hell for a while.

Let us make hay while the sun shines,

And then bow out in style!

As the meeting came to an end, Covid quietly exited and began to mutate…


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental. 

Of plastic smiles and crocodile tears

Plastic is crowding our seas while any BODY, our rivers! And so, it is banned in the breach; we cannot do without that ubiquitous petticoat-shaped semi-translucent piece of daily jewelry in our hands, now, can we?

Same with the smiles these days, the ones that adorn our pretty faces, the black and white fungus notwithstanding; they are full of polyurethane, and naturally so? given the quantity of time we spend in front of the screen for selfies, online meets, performing for Videos including CoVideos, and of course when appearing on Television – the king, or shall we say Queen of all screens. (It is interactive and attractive at once!)

The screen has replaced the mirror, where the smiles were genuine feedback of how you were feeling on that day and not of, how you are supposed to feel! And sometimes they were absent or replaced by a grimace. But today, nobody even says, “mirror, mirror, on the wall, am I the fairest of them all?” because today, they know who is the fairest and a mobile or television screen helps them prove it for posterity!

None of that is possible on a screen – a display of genuine feeling has no probative value, and a plastic smile is the only way to bag it! But let us not be so negative – though it is good to be called so these days.

Plastic smiles have many advantages too; they cover up mistakes that have caused heartburn, help make new friends and rebuild broken bonds with fellow men that break again when the plastic vaporizes in the heat!  However, plastic, even a plastic smile, has only so many uses – you cannot use it once rigor mortis has set in… unless it is to bag it!

Do Plastic smiles accompany Crocodile tears?

I would say no, based on empirical evidence. One must look appropriately stricken, if not by Covid, which is quite unlikely these days, then at least by Covigrief, of which also, there is plenty going around, so there is enough of that – I meant empirical evidence.

As E-commerce grows, and E-Governance picks up – mostly in collection of dues to the government – not the other way around – E-motion seems to have caught on. Like Motion, it requires a place to deposit its displays of variety and what better place than on a screen? 

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance that are a part of the framework that formats the way you are learning to live with the one you lost are well-known and prime candidates for E-motion, with the last stage best suited for smiles and tears…

E-motion’s USP is free tear delivery – it’s fast and effective; some have associated it with the thick-skinned crocodile – a most unlikely match, or maybe not –  and called it crocodile tears – but like (or unlike) Plastic smiles, the term is a misnomer. The phrase derives from an ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their prey (Wikipedia). To that extent, they are true to form.

These tears flow, sometimes gently, sometimes freely, depending on how hard the vinegar dipped sponge rubs your wounded hide, and thus, your pride. You cannot hide, you cannot slide, so you tend to describe, choke when you see a Mehul – not often seen these days – and cry to vibe… 

E-motion tends to ebb and flow like the waves, and it is important to display it at its peak – for as Matshona Dhliwayo says “If you cry in the rain only the sky will see your tears.”

On the flip side, there’s also Santosh Kalwar who says, “If I can see the pain in your eyes then share with me your tears. If I can see the joy in your eyes, then share with me your smile.” 

But what if you cannot see either, only the smile and the tears – that too simultaneously?

Do give it a thought a day, until next week same time!


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to unmask your smiles despite social distancing, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you perceive a connection with any such real-life event or character, you must rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

The Viral Covid Media – a painful jab?

Covid Media is quite the antithesis of the much tele-talked about Godi Media. While the latter is full of positivity (other than of, and for Covid) the former is full of negativity about those Covid positives. That really is the paradox of our Media Today. 

Burning Pyres and Burning Tyres highlighted by the Covid Media display the paradox even more brutally. They leave you gasping for breath, literally (even without Covid blocking your airways), and before they show it to you, they inform you that what you are about to see might have graphic scenes, so viewer discretion is advised – Discretion means: You either change the channel, switch it off or turn the page. But you do neither because you are curious – the first time.  Thereafter the Law of Diminishing Marginal fatality kicks in.  

Not sure why they warn you to be discreet when all they want you to do is throw caution to the wind and stay on it. Do they have noble intentions?  maybe preventing the virus from spreading by scaring you into wearing your mask while you perform your tasks? Washing your hands off all the dirt you have accumulated during the day? and warning you to keep your distance – which you do anyway, the moment you know a person is Positive. That is a negative approach to a positive situation, but it is the only way Man and Media know?

Either way, the worst in each of us overcomes the best in the rest of us when we watch television or read the news. But then, for news to be news or for the news to be viewed – which is the primary purpose of all news, the bad is better than the good, evil, better than sainthood, and a criminal record better than serving the cause of justice. That is what all journalists are taught – Dog biting man is NOT news, Man biting dog IS.  Of course, when a dog bites man in retaliation – it IS News.  

The Supreme Court itself recently said that the Press should not be restrained from reporting. Because basically, it is Re-porting. Not creating. The line of course is thin, like between copy and paste and cut and paste! And rightly so. The press must report and ask the tough questions, but not to those watching the vaccines being packed (the opposition) as parts of the Media do, but to those but those who oversee its production – persons with authority derived from the Constitution, e.g.: do you like mangoes – that is a tough question when there is a drought for the fruit, certainly.

It is the tough questions that get the right answers, else the right will believe it’s always right, by right, and the media will have plenty to write about, barring infringed rights! This because there is extraordinarily little left, in the left pocket.   But framing tough questions might get you framed for posterity; if you prefer a live stream, better flow with it, like most do. But then you may never see an improvement in the oxygen levels, bed availability or vaccination orders in your lifetime because it will be cut short, unexpectedly!

So, it’s a choice! The remedy is a painful jab that is in short supply and with known aftereffects!   And that is the tragedy! If you Go win, you lose; if you lose, they win. Download the App! Not AAP.


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

Online Covid test – coming soon to a screen near you!

Everything is online these days – Meetings, School, Friends, Shopping, Govt, or lack of it, Bills etc. You don’t really need to step out of your house, unless you want to contact and contract Corona. But you still do.

One of the reasons is the RT-PCR test – the one where you wait in line at the hospital for a test and in a separate line for the result. You can’t get the test online. Doctor’s consultation maybe, but not the test. For a virtual swab of your nose will only discover a dense jungle, and your throat? Well, its best left to your camera and imagination!

The other reason is the Tika – there is no utsav in that unless you step out with a bunch of friends for a Tika followed by a Tikka (read in persian please)!

The RT- PCR test itself involves a swab tour of your nostril. Sometimes it’s a gentle swirl, sometimes a hard twirl around the city of the virus’s dreams….

But what if it’s done online?  All the camera will get to see by way of verification is a jungle – an important jungle that’s yet to be cut down for development. It is what causes the climate change in your body!

The Camera will not be able to see any development there or down under when you open your mouth!  You don’t know what you are going to say in the current circumstances – when you’d like to stay home, stay safe as they tell you on the telephone, but are called in for an RT-PCR test to mingle with the best of the virus mutants, because you have symptoms of a mutant and cant sit mute about them any longer,  or your neighbour has done it, and is asking you – kiya kya?

You lose out either way. All along you’ve been a positive guy, and now everyone wants you to be negative – like “Indiranagar ka Gunda”!

And so you are, thank the Almighty for that for only he can alter the ions.

Of course, there is the lab technician too, who can do that – for a fee.

You choose

Can CoVideos defeat Covid?

There are many CoVideos doing the rounds of WhatsUp? and when they are too scared to ask their questions, they send a Telegram. These coVideos are from Docs, nurses, Ex Covids, politicians – rarely – and of course, all those who have an interest in the subject – it is everybody’s Mann Ki Baat.

Each one has something to say, and they desperately want someone to hear it. Why? They believe what they say can save the world’s population and maybe they can – because the actual saviours are already out of reach. We cannot really make out, given the current statistics. But then statistics has always been an item number – It is an item that numbs especially when zeros are added at the end.

These CoVideos take a look at alternative therapies to the ICMR prescribed protocols; for instance, one speaks about Nimbu rasa in the nostrils – Covid vanishes to the extent of 99% in 72 hours one video claims, while some others talk about inhaling camphor with Ajwain. In between are the usual suspects – Inhalation, Mouth gargles, Pranayama, and of course the suppressed giggles caused by double masks, a lack of manmade oxygen and lockdowns that encourage home delivery of liquor. Next on the list will be “one Kilo of Grocery of your choice FREE with RCB!” This time with a cup thrown in perhaps! It does look like that currently…

The Virus is watching these videos… and the news about lockdowns, closely it would seem. Like David who slew the slow, lazy, clumsy Goliath who was comfortable in his enviable height, broad chest and six pack abs, Covid – maybe a brother from a different mother – is about to slay us with sleight of hand, not in the dead of night, but between 6 and 10 am! Now that is an oxymoron, but the lack of oxygen befuddles!

There are calls to call off the IPL – it is too much of excitement, and consumption of precious oxygen due to the hard running between the wickets, while people and governments are suffering from a lack of it. But there are others who say that these are the crucial middle overs, and one must stay course, run hard, and then kill it in the slog overs. Besides, it is the only entertainment available, other than CoVideos…

Beyond CoVideos, there is CoVaxin – a vaccine among others that waned. But Maxination time is close at hand as from the 1st of May, all above 18 MAY take it. Some may pay, some need not, but all must, if we are to keep the Virus at Bay! Luckily, the vaccination is manually administered, not by an EVM – Electronic Vaccination Machine. So, there is not likely to be any mix up in the outcomes…

Let us lockdown for the next fourteen days. Sit tight; literally. Remember there’s home delivery. 

And if Covid comes knocking at your door… Send him away

Knock Knock who’s there? Covid? Covid who? Atmanirbhar Covid oo3!


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if. perchance you find a connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

A Story for Christmas: The Christmas Missive

It was on the Sunday before Christmas that I saw the note, crunched and spotted with what seemed like red ink. I saw it in the waste bin after I had finished setting up the Christmas tree. The bin was by the tree, where I had put it to dispose of the decoration waste after fetching it from the rear veranda where it usually sat. It was a covered bin and the black plastic bin liner was peeping out from under the cover. I had almost finished the task – it had taken longer than usual as I had no help this year – and barring disposal of the waste, I was done. It was well after sunset – around Eight O Clock I’d say – and in keeping with the festive season I was impatient to imbue the Christmas Spirit.

Setting up the Christmas tree was both an obsession and my joy every year. I had been doing it since I was a child and never let go of the tradition. It gave me a sense of joy and festivity that perhaps the abstract thought of a Child, even a special Child, being born in Bethlehem could not bring. It was through that tree, whether it was an old tattered one or the brand new one we had bought last year that I rejoiced in the birth of Jesus. More than that, the Christmas tree brought the family together for an occasional sing song or a chit chat in the week before and after Christmas and as we sat around the tree and the crib below it, I somehow felt at peace with myself and others.

In so far as it was my obsession, it was always up to me to set up the Christmas tree before I got married and after. My wife Evelyn (Evie for nearly 26 years now) was supportive in this endeavour, but never very helpful. She observed from afar, going about keeping the house spic and span in anticipation of Christmas. I was comfortable with that now after many years, because our only son was always part of my Christmas capers! Shannon was always my aide-de-camp for a variety of Christmas endeavours from baking to roasting to cleaning – despite his busy schedule of studies and parties. Last year was especially good – we had a great time doing things together, probably the best time since he was little wanna be Sachin Tendulkar – as he was between college and a job. With memories of yester year flooding my mind, and the craving for the spirit of the season crowding them in, my mind was in a state of flux.

I knew I had to clean up before my wife wandered in from the kitchen. Evie was a stickler for neatness and in her present state of mind I knew would harangue me for even the slightest deviation in this regard.. . I gathered the debris – the fallen leaves, blobs of cotton, torn wrapping paper, pieces of twine, the extra sand of the crib, the broken decorations and statuettes – rolled them into an old tired newspaper and went towards the bin lying near the tree to dump it in. I placed my leg on the bin’s cover pedal and it opened. I was about to throw in the rolled up garbage when I saw it… A crunched piece of paper, flecked in red lying at the bottom of the bin. I noticed it immediately because Evie had just changed the bin’s plastic liner and the bin was empty. The red on black was a marked contrast and stood out even in my crowded mind. I bent over and picked it up.

Still conscious of what I would have to face if I did not clean up my mess quickly – You develop this sixth sense after many years of marriage and it was especially acute recently – I held it in my left hand and dumped the garbage in with my right, my leg on the pedal till it went right in. Then boom the cover came down with a thud, heard in the kitchen. I carried the bin back to where it belonged minus the crunched up note. The Christmas lights and the guiding star had begun to twinkle and Christmas was in the air. But I was afraid. Why, I was not sure. I had not felt this way in a long long time. “David”, my wife called just then as she saw me passing the kitchen door. “Yea, coming” I shouted back and hurried on to the back veranda and deposited the bin.

I quickly put the piece of paper into my pant pocket and turned and rushed back inside, eager to cover my apprehension. The scrappy piece of paper was beginning burn a hole in my pocket and in my mind. Why was I being so paranoid I wondered? She was in the kitchen, cutting up fish for the freezer and our future. “Evelyn, what? “I shouted again 500 meters from the kitchen door. There was no answer – I always used her full name when I was displeased or interrupted or prevented from doing something I had set my mind on doing. In the instant case it was opening out the scrappy piece of paper I had found in the bin, I screamed half way to the kitchen, what do you want?

I wanted to avoid a face to face conversation, worried that my face would display my apprehension – I was very expressive that way. I was the guy who could cry at the movie theatre. However, since there was no answer, I had no choice but to enter the kitchen screaming “Whaaat?” not realising I had screamed. This irritated her no end. She shouted back “why can’t you speak softly? “Because you can’t hear” I shouted back.

I quickly realised this conversation would go nowhere. It was the beginning of many such conversations we had been having in the recent past. Not that such instances were absent previously, but we always made light of it in a short while. These episodes had been going on for some time now. I still remember the day the fairy tale unravelled.

That fateful day in September, I returned from work as usual – mentally preparing for another monotonous and routine evening. But it was not to be. Evie was at front door waiting to greet me – something she had not done recently, presuming perhaps that as our marriage progressed, I would find my own way in. I was happy at the return to what I thought were days of yore, but the moment I saw her face, I knew something was wrong – She looked tense and her eyes were teary, not in an obvious way, but it was evident to the experienced eye and certainly mine was an experienced eye! She gave me the bad news – “Shannon has some rashes and fever and is very listless. He is very weak” Has he eaten I asked. “No not since his breakfast which itself he left half eaten “I went in and found him lying on the sofa watching a movie on TV. His eyes were half shut. He was hot to the touch and had a rash across both his hands. I didn’t think much of it and thought it might be an allergic reaction, but became alarmed when I recalled that Evie had said he had not eaten the whole day. He was weak and listless like Evie said, unlike I had ever seen him anytime recently. I quietly left him and went into the kitchen. My wife followed me. In my heart I knew it was something serious and I told her so. We decided to go to the nearest hospital immediately – our presumption was that an injection and a bottle of drips would sort the problem out. We were dead wrong. Three days later he was dead, our only son, a joy when he was born, and a joy just before he passed away in my wife’s arms. She was inconsolable as was I. Last month he would have turned 23.

As a couple, as parents, we were broken for he was the love and fun factor of our family. A happy go lucky guy with a strong sense of humour, and always the life of a party! Indeed his life giving skills were much sought after for survival! Still, he was conscious of his goals if not conscientious about them and fulfilled them his own way, but fulfil them he did and we respected him for that and it never qualified our love and in turn he loved us for that. Everything we did was for him. He was the biggest part of our lives – even when he was not around. In turn, many occasions taught us that we were a big part of his life too in the most unobtrusive way – When we were unwell, in distress or in conflict, he was as disturbed as we were, but discreetly. The funeral was a blur and never registered in our conscious memories. He was still alive for us. But it seemed that we were dead.


Evelyn felt depressed. She was getting used to the melancholic feeling invading her being and plaguing her every waking hour ever since Shannon went away. She still believed he was out on one of his numerous outings with his friends – He would come home late at night and wake up late, especially during his hols from college and work, and then disappear again. But just the fact that he existed would console her at such times. She had loved him with all her heart and now that he had gone away, her heart was no longer in her life. It had become mechanical, much like the engine of a car – As long as it is on it whirrs away.

As Evelyn kept her hands busy, her mind drifted, Her husband was understanding – as understanding as he could be in the circumstances. He was smarting inside – She could tell from his irritability and his increased affinity to the bottle – it only increased in intensity as Christmas approached. Evelyn was tired. Tired of life itself. On the one side she was trying to cope with life without her son for the sake of her husband, while on the other he was drifting away from her. No longer his gregarious self, he too was wallowing in self-pity, and him hitting the bottle to combat his grief, the way he was doing it – it was the last straw on the camel’s back. The only way she knew how to deal with her grief was to give him grief, day after day and night after night. Nothing he did would ever be right. He could never replace her loss, no matter how much he tried and he tried – being useful around the house, gentle with her in word and deed and giving her hugs and holds when he felt she needed them. But her loss defined her acceptance.

Denial was better, it was safer. She went on the offensive. She went overboard with taunts and it was not because she didn’t love him anymore – she still did – but she didn’t care anymore. Ah yes! That was the difference she thought. She was beyond caring, beyond feeling, beyond healing. She had done that all her life – caring for others – her son, her husband, her family his family, her friends, his friends – she was the glue that stuck them together, the one they would call when they needed advice, the one that one could depend on in any situation. She was the strong one. But she had one secret she had not revealed to anyone. So little did they know that she drew a lot of strength from her husband, from his sane advice, but now the effect of both were waning, He had begun to drown his sorrows in the bottle and started withdrawing from conversations with her – to the outside world he still put up a brave face, but to her, he was a broken record, that she believed could never ever be fixed and certainly she didn’t care enough to try.

Her thoughts revolved around the loss of her son, her plans for and with him, and the empty future she faced without him. Her husband was no longer in her picture frame and staying strong for others, was a no brainer – She longed for comfort, rebutting every effort by anyone strongly, fearing she would have to accept her loss. She began to suppress her feelings, trying to portray strength and calmness as was expected of her, but her effort manifested itself in taunts, silences and cold wars at home and crying spells among her friends – She had a few and they did their best to give her the strength and comfort she needed – but it was transient. At home she felt lonely like a single island in a big ocean. By the time December began, the month of joy, the joy was totally and absolutely absent in both of them. The bickering, the drinking and the fights only got worse. 
She did not even look up when David entered the kitchen to fulfil his spiritual fervour for the night. Her eyes had begun to fill up.


I left the kitchen in a huff, picking up my Vodka bottle, a glass and some ice from the ice tray in the fridge on the way. Evie continued to clean the fish, not bothering to look up. I went to the veranda, and sat down near the Christmas tree basking in its twinkling lights and poured a double, added the ice, a dash of lime, took in two quick sips and stared vacantly at the crib as if hoping for some sort of divine intervention in our lives.The paper was still burning a hole in my pocket and in my mind – Why I still could not fathom. It seemed like an ordinary paper with some writing on it possibly thrown away while Evelyn was cleaning the house. But something was out of kilt. I could feel it in my bones. She would never but never soil a new bin liner with a single piece of paper when she could well have thrown it away in the previous one, which had become full.

She was very meticulous that way. I did try to reason with myself, that she might have been too lazy and to open the now tied disposal bag, throw it in and knot it up again – but couldn’t reconcile to the fact. There was one other thing. There were dark brown stains on the paper – why my mind instantaneously pictured dried blood I couldn’t fathom unless it was a remnant of the nightmare I had almost daily since Shannon had died. The nightmare had a lot of blood – mainly pouring out of Shannon’s nostrils and mouth on the last day of his life. After Shannon died, I had tried to remain strong for Evelyn, despite my own grief. I tried to hold her when she cried, – she pushed me away. Tried to tell her to think positively, when I myself struggled with the word and I failed – “Keep your positive thoughts to yourself, she would say. “Look at you drowning your sorrows in liquor and trying to lecture me”, was another of her favourite lines.

I stayed away from work for almost three months doing almost everything around the house, but she would not let me do that too – she wanted to keep herself busy, and I was at a loose end. I decided to return to work sooner than later. I was scared to leave her alone, when all she wanted me to do was just that. After a while I gave up trying to play healer, and found my own solace – Vodka. Lost in thoughts, I was near the bottom of my glass when I removed the paper from my pant pocket and carefully opened it. It was badly creased and the writing was a little wobbly, but unmistakably it was Evelyn’s handwriting – the slightly left sloping rounded letters were distinctive. Lest I spoil the ambient and calming effect of the lit Christmas tree by putting on the light to read the handwriting, I used my mobile’s torch to read the note. I noticed that the hand writing covered about three- fourth’s of the page My eyes skimmed the page in the harsh glare of the mobile torchlight….

My dearest dearest David,

I ‘m confused. Of late we have grown apart emotionally and mentally. I blame myself. I love you still, as much as I loved you when I married you, but I loved our only son more perhaps. His sudden loss, is something I cannot reconcile to. I’ve tried, taken the advice of so many to heart, even yours, though you may not believe it so, given that I’ve pushed you out of my way or ignored you as much as possible, or it may seem that way to you. The emotional bond with Shannon was so strong, born of a difficult conception, a difficult pregnancy and then a difficult labour that I cannot let go of him though I am grounded in the reality that he is gone. Is it an excuse for me to shy away from living as many have suggested? I don’t know and I really don’t care. That single emotion of undeserved loss is eating at my insides like I’m worm infested and I believe that no amount of medicine, not sleeping tablets, nor any other kind will help me fill that void..

The vodka drifted quickly to my feet, which now had become wooden. My eyes welled – I was an emotional guy and a sucker for tragedy and loss stories. Only this was not a story. It was real. The blood was real. My blood froze, my thoughts froze. But I continued reading – there was not much else I could think of doing – I wanted to see where this was going.

David, I know that you feel the loss as much as I do, and you have taken it very hard. You tried to be strong for me, when I should have been strong for you. My past and my friends always led me to believe that I had the strength, but all the accolades and all my self-belief, collapsed with Shannon. Maybe your grief, maybe my behaviour, pushed you to drink more than you should – whatever your excuse is, it’s yours – I may have a part in it, and if I do I’m sorry. Christmas is approaching and the togetherness we shared as a family for the last 25 years or so will be missing and I can’t bear it. I thought you would not take out the Christmas tree this year, and when you did, I went numb. I cannot share Christmas with you alone this year in the absence of Shannon

Love always

I went numb. I dropped the note, got up and ran to the kitchen, knocking down the vodka bottle in the process. It shattered, but I didn’t care. Evie was still cleaning the fish at the kitchen sink. She had a knife in her hands. I stood in the doorway and looked at her. I couldn’t control myself. I went up to her and put my arms around her from behind. I didn’t say anything. She stopped what she was doing but didn’t turn around. I kissed her on her neck and said “Merry Christmas. Let’s go for Mass together. Let us remember our times with Shanon together. Let’s share our pain. We have only each other. That’s what Shannon would have us do. He enjoyed seeing us together”. I wasn’t sure of how she would react. I had not measured my words. My outburst was spontaneous and genuine, born out of the angst of her missive.

Suddenly it dawned on me she wanted me to find it. She was crying out for help. Unexpectedly she dropped the knife, turned and put her arms around me, rested her face on my chest and cried her heart out. She had never done that before, not even when Shannon had passed away in her arms. I cried too, and as she wiped the tears from my eyes with her fingers stained with raw fish, I noticed the plaster on her finger and the blood stains on it. I knew then it would be a joyful Christmas, because our child had revived our faith in each other from up above – We would once again sit around the Christmas tree basking its peaceful glow.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.