Aishwarya Rao
It was a quiet afternoon and one of her favorite TV serials Shanti had just ended. There was no particular reason why it was her favourite. Of course she was captivated by Mandira Bedi's large eyes and impeccable attire. And fascinated by the lives of 'rich people' as shown on DD2. However these weren't reasons why she watched Shanti. In an odd sort of way she didn't have much choice. The only other serial during that time of the day was Swabhiman where the Tamil dubbing was worse. Well, she could have done other things; like build a toy kitchen with Cheruba (the only other pre-teen in Officers' Colony) or play running and catching with her baby-sister (who had just started kindergarden) or solve that week's crossword in The Hindu, Young World. But she chose to watch Shanti instead. If not anything, Shanti's life was richer and more exciting in all senses. After all, as a 11 year old, she better get trained to face the real world soon. 

Once the serial displayed its customary 'To be continued tomorrow' message, Parvathi would spend the next half hour reading Champak or Gokulam sitting on her jula. She could never really understand why Swabhiman wouldn't immediately follow Shanthi. That half hour in the middle seemed like days. Although she preferred Shanti over the longer and weepier Swabhiman, she yearned to see the handsome face of Rishabh. At 11 years, her secret love for Rishabh was one of the most promiscuous things she had ever done. And she tried to conceal her impatience to see Rishabh on screen as she read the moral stories in Gokulam. Honestly Nancy Drew and Five Find-outers would have been her idea of 'reading' in the afternoon. However she made a conscious choice to reserve the thrillers for the night. It somehow made the entire experience more chilling. And she liked that edgy feeling...the goose-bumps on her hand when Nancy decides to explore the ranch by herself...

And so she continued on her jula, humming the Shanti title song that was stuck in her head...