Chasing Christie


My little girl asks me whether I can guess who the murderer happens to be.   I am yet to finish the book. The novel is ‘Sleeping Murder’ by Agatha Christie. I have experienced enough of this world and read enough of Dame Christie to venture a serious guess even at the middle of the book. I suggest a name and she sniffs: ‘ So you did read the ending!’ I laugh.

I tell her that Winston Churchill had guessed the murderer by the middle of  the play ‘Mousetrap’. His wife Clementine apparently sniffed:’Of course not!’ Guess who turned out right at the end. Yes, your hunch is as good as mine.

The fan club of Miss Marple is steadily increasing in my home. From Bertram’s Hotel to A pocket full of rye, Miss Marple’s sharp brain has my child fascinated. And I am glad.

Miss Marple  subtly teaches the importance of  classical literature to young readers. From the Duchess of Malfi to The Lady of Shallot, there is a  literary clue in each of her books for the prescient reader. And a practical approach to life and love and all that is good and bad. I find Miss Marple formidably intelligent when it comes to second guessing human nature with all its foibles.

I tell my kid that her granddad introduced me to Agatha Christie. I was thirteen. She laughs that Amma was too old when she started Miss Marple. I agree humbly.

She knows all about the episode of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance and come back. She had watched it in a Doctor Who episode. I let her interpretation stay magical.

‘Which is your favourite Miss Marple novel?’ She is quizzical now.

Without a moment’s hesitance I answer: ‘ The mirror crack’d from side to side.’ I have loved the book and all the various visual depictions of that true classic.

‘ I liked it too.’ She nods her head.


‘ May the old dames win’, I grin.


Short and Spicy

I have been watching a lot of short films recently. Tisca Chopra’s Chutney,  for example, was absolutely delicious!

(I think  there was an inspiration: Saki’s short story – The open window – yet the adaptation was wholly Indian.Vera the tale spinner par excellence transformed her looks into a native Ghaziabadwali! ‘How does your garden grow’- a Hercule Poirot short story of Christie is also supposedly another inspiration. Lots in the audience have caught these nuances too.)

Watching a slew of Malayalam short films,  I particularly liked ( based  on The right kind of house -Alfred Hitchcock  Presents in 1958 ), the short film Grace Villa, that had Parvathy T and Rajesh Hebbar  enacting rather effortlessly.

I was left wondering on the veritable treasure house of adaptable short stories- covering everything from horror to ghosts to adventure.

‘Lamb to the slaughter’ by Roald Dahl, is one such story! Of course, it has been adapted into visual forms by Masters of the Art. Yet, we might have an Indian version of it yet! I will leave it to the reader to explore the story and then imagine the possible short film in an Indian context.

‘Witness for the Prosecution’ is another classic by Agatha Christie. I wait for the day an Indian short film creates a court scene, capturing that stunner!

We are often treated to trite stuff,  tripe,  or plain terrible fare as audience. Short films offer a welcome change.

Short film genre is pretty good opportunity for writers and adapters to showcase some of the classy works of world literature. Only request is that, they acknowledge the original with due humility. In the era of google and rather wise audience, one click can reveal the true inspiration. Better to accept gracefully than shout of originality, is it not?


Warmth In Winter


I find her entranced in a thick book- she is awed! I snooze near her, enjoying the warmth of the heater in the unhappy cold of a dire winter. An hour later, I open my eyes and she is still in the same position, the book on her lap.

“Interesting , eh?”

No response.

I take a peek.

‘Adventure of the devil’s foot’

“Are you understanding it?”

She looks at me with that ‘I do not expect that from you’ sort of a look.

I grin. And snooze again.

This time, it is late and the book and the child are still in their places.

“Time to sleep,” I say.

“Five more minutes”, she says. It is neither a request nor a plea. It is a statement-typical of her.

Five minutes later, I cough meaningfully.

She closes the book.

“What was the adventure?”

“The empty house,” she says with a prim expression.

As I tuck her into her winter blankets, and turn the heater around, I realise that certain classics will always get the chill away from our souls.

On the bed, was Penguin’s ‘Classic Sherlock Holmes’. And already smiling in her sleep, was the youngest fan  in the family- enchanted by the inimitable detective of 221B Baker Street.

The suffocating winter cold fails to depress my spirits.

When a child reads happily, that joy is warm enough to  withstand the severest of  life’s winter winds.

Tail piece:

I  search for and finally find  an old copy of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories.  Dusting it, I slyly put it next to Holmes.

Certain manoeuvres have to be silently executed for success. Especially with little girls full of ‘ I do stuff my way’ attitude.

Let us see now, if that old lady captivates her too!



The Leech House Mystery

Picture 119

In Agatha Christie’s short story, “The Idol House of Astarte,” she mentions about the evil influence of certain places, infesting people with negative energy.  Leeches, are those who belong to that story.To stay healthy, keep away from people who are inspired by the life philosophy of Leeches.

Getting out of poisonous environments which destroy, is far better than letting your life blood be leeched out, day by day by unworthy souls.In my view, life gives us choices at every moment-where and how to invest our time.

Leeches cling onto healthy humans, sucking the blood and growing fat and fatter- at someone else’s expense.! It could be the other person’s time, energy, life energy, happiness, talents, hard work ..

Leeches cannot be pulled away forcefully- they will tear your skin apart along with themselves. These specimens epitomize I LOSE/YOU LOSE life position ( I am NOT OK/You are NOT OK). When they bloat with your life energy, they brag that they are in the I WIN/YOU LOSE life position( I am OK/You are NOT OK).

Anyway, it takes strong salt to force them to let go ; and curl up defensively on a mossy rock by the roadside.

Salt could be in the form of strongly laid out boundaries, total indifference, excellence and happiness. The last two salted solutions have the best effect on blood suckers! You see, these makes them sick. They turn green on seeing you happy and successful. You are engaged in meaningful life pursuits and they cannot bear to see it.

If you read articles on Control and Manipulative behavior in people, these offer classical explanations of a leech’s core characteristics:

  • Leeches stick on for life- their very existences are thrown into imbalance, if you flick them off. They will constantly try to come back and stick close to you.
  • Leeches have to be fed- they are always hungry- for more money, more control, more of your happiness. They will manipulate the truths into a fictitious movie where they play heroes and heroines and ensure that there are enough audience screaming by the screening theatres, pop corn in hand. They also cry and laugh at intermittent intervals, whenever it suits them to do so. They are good when they choose to be, when it suits them to be. Rest of the time they are busy being unhappy.
  • Leeches are born to be parasites- they cannot own responsibility for their own lives or happiness. These are necessarily the responsibility, as far as their skewed logic goes, of some one else! Did you not know, Madame Leech needs happiness! Mister Leech wants to feel good. So go ahead, dance to their tunes. Wiggle to the music of their finger movements- they have the threads of the puppets in their hands, did you not know? We owe it to them- to make them happy. We are the reasons for their unhappiness.
  •  Leeches are born manipulative- Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them. In a similar manner, Leeches are born manipulative, some achieve it from parental training and nurturing environment,  some have manipulation thrust upon them – by truckloads too!
  • Leeches are fanatical beings- They have strong codes for right and wrong. If they sip coffee, it is alright. If you sip coffee and smile, they will bite hard. Your blood has been poisoned, stupid, and the Leech is tasting a happy-coffee smile in it, can you not see?If you ask the Leech politely, but who asked you to suck my blood if you detest coffee, they will answer that your blood was to be kept pure for their leeching business. How dare you try anything like coffee, tea or fruit juice? Your happiness makes your blood bitter for the leech- so stop being happy!
  • Leeches  are from the Dracula family-Nothing matters in the ultimate journey to your jugular vein!  Their life goals are centered around your life blood. Their every waking moment goes to plotting your downfall- almost like Cassius and Brutus and Co! They wait patiently for the Ides of March, so that the bloody battle can begin- I will bleed you dead, so beware!

Having seen so many types of leeches all my life, of either gender, of varying ages, I have come to detest them, but I refuse to give them the importance of hating them!  As a wise soul said, the opposite of love is not hate- it is indifference.One does not give a damn! And one is not even a fan of Rhett Butler!

Gary Zukav asks, ‘Are the people in your life kind and loving? If so, your intentions are kind and loving. And you are a member of the love and kindness club. ‘

I think of leeches. Which club do they belong to? As Groucho Marx said, may be they do not want to be members of the club which will have them – because their club is called: Yucky and Abominable.

Caveat Emptor!