Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jealousy (Nano Fiction)

His voice dipped to a pianissimo when directed at Coco. “Hey baby, you are such a cutie, look at those ears, so, so very soft!”

The man and his beast thrived thus in their mutual bubble of dependence and acceptance. Their needs were well met and their bond, toxin free. Their moments together were of pure joy. She would charge, bounding at him as he stood at the door, dangling the leash. Their connection showed even when she flashed the whites of her eyes if he ever said, “Sorry, busy. Your mistress will walk you today!”

Sukriti would respond with mock annoyance, “She gets more affection from you than I do! This makes me jealous.”  Blithe would come the master’s reply, “Well, if you looked at me with that same adoration, I would treat you special too.”

It was their silver wedding anniversary a week later. Both sides of the families were attending the large party the couple was hosting for their friends. Euphoric on the effervescence of champagne and good will, when the clan returned home, their chatter fell into a shocked silence. Coco was sprawled in an untidy heap of Sukriti’s belongings. There was a mauled blue velvet box, two damaged lip gels, some torn fabric and a silver heel chewed through.

The dog whimpered as her mistress lashed out at the bewildered husband, “Treat your dog like a human and she will treat you like a dog!”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Happiness (Nano Fiction)

God was on a survey.  A panic wave had hit him from around the Shastri Stadium. He rode down his beam to an abrupt stop at a rickety bench. A mother hunched over her son’s cricket bag. “I am a mess Bhagwan. My grandmother prepared my mother to be a homemaker. My mother raised me with the capacity to earn if need be. I am confused over what I am trying to equip my son for. I hear I should facilitate boredom for his creativity to flourish. But it also seems he will have to pitch in with housework. Will he be the sole breadwinner?”

God rolled his eyes, “Humans! I don’t remember wiring them with self-destruction. The template will have to return to the design table.” He prompted the anguished woman to resume.

“I just want my child to be happy. His father and I are bringing him up to be a collaborative, compassionate, creative, committed young citizen of the world. We pour all our time, energy and resources into him but we find ourselves improvising, one day at a time. Should I enrol him in a German or a Mandarin class?”

God raised his hand, “Enough woman! Joy is a by-product. Does he dust your drawing room and walk the pet? Teach him productivity and morality and reciprocity, it is all you can do. His happiness will grow on the tree he plants, nurtures and protects with his own bare hands.You breathe".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Selfie (Nano Fiction)

Like any other award ceremony, there were two camps. One glowed while the other glowered. The cameras however, were common. People slipped effortlessly into their chronic photo poses. Selfies abounded. There were group selfies, pair selfies and the genuine selfie. Who got cut off in which frame depended entirely on the length of the photographer’s arm.

Kaveri‘s ipad was rapidly running out of memory.

There is this modern tendency to pout in pictures. The veterans of profile pictures know precisely which angle to present. In a near universal drill, you inhale, tuck in the belly, stretch up the neck, fluff out the hair, widen the eyes and stretch those lips across the pearlies. Voila! “Let’s just check the picture is all good”, declared Kaveri.  It rarely is! One or the other will whinge, “No, let’s take a couple more, quick ones, then we can delete what we don’t like.”

Kaveri began to flit around the group frantically, trying to stay ahead of her family’s patience. Also, the clouds were getting ready to deliver their plump load. Everyone shuffled hastily under the closest door arch, huddling around her to pore over the ipad gallery.

It was a surprisingly happy group. No one noticed the flaw in any one’s picture; they were so busy looking at themselves!

All you truly own is yourself, don’t they say?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Plan (Nano Fiction)

The Singh family gathered themselves and hunkered down. Their matriarch, Dr Jasneet Kaur, had a crunch of a professional event approaching. The preparations would rival those for the Battle of Bogra. “Anticipate and project ahead and think of everything!  There are thumb rules.  It all takes longer than planned, list it out and keep striking the tasks off,” the doctor had little faith in her family’s retention power.

Things went as planned. The car was tanked up, its wheels pumped and rearing. Jasneet ran her green pen through points reading: clothes, stand by saving of content, touch base with the host hospital, stationery, phone charge, water bottle, coffee flask and wallet look over. The family help was summoned and briefed on the mission.

The evening before, Jasneet finally laid her head back on her revolving chair. She sat gazing at her peach colored saree hanging on the wardrobe. Her half closed eyes swivelled to the shoe rack. Her comfortable Hush Puppies had been given the cream treatment. Just before calling it a night, the doctor scanned her to-do list one final time before crumpling it and aiming it at the dustbin. She turned in, pulling the quilt slowly over her slack body. The radiator’s glow cupped her smiling face.

The Singh household was jarred awake by a hair raising shriek from the bathroom. Doctor Jasneet had left the geyser to chance!

It isn’t always that haste alone makes waste.

Patience (Nano Fiction)

Silky jiggled for joy, her weight would not let her jump. But no amount of refreshing the screen would update the “out for delivery” status on her courier tracker. Her college acceptance was on its way and she couldn’t wait to tear open the long awaited package.

“Bhaiyya ji, stay alert please. The delivery boy should not take my papers back because no one opened the door,” she briefed their domestic help in a tone of utmost urgency. Father, mother, grandmother were all placed on a vigilant standby. Twice she had braved the 47 degree Celsius heat outside to peep into their mailbox. “You know he is going to take your signature,” her brother mocked her. “Have some patience!”
There were three false alarms. All of them were rewarded with glares from the college applicant. The laundry guy was particularly crushed to see the disappointment on her face. “I shouldn’t have rung the bell,” he chided himself.

Silky’s mood swung like Tarzan. She flitted between tasks, unable to keep at anything long enough. Soon enough, she was rubbing her forehead and taking long breaths. Completely drained at the futility of the exercise, Silky decided to step out. Her electric blue Scooty was swallowing the corner turn when the Fedex delivery van drew up at her gate.

A watched pot never boils now, does it?

Inertia (Nano Fiction)

Maneka was used to it. “Let’s try something different for New Year this time,” was all she had said.

The announcement met with groans of dismay. “It won’t work!” said Gina. “We don’t have enough time,” was Neema’s opinion. And Rajat was categorical, “Too much effort.”

Maneka had learnt the hard way that the one who floats the idea gets to swim or sink with it. Alone! But she had made it to the shore so often that resistance no longer fazed her. The smile would just get broader as she pressed on.

In time, a few of her group began to make some listless motions. There were late shows, forgotten chores, and casual follow up, outright protests on occasions. But miraculously enough the venue got booked, permissions received and the event minutiae finalized.

India Gate had not seen a party like the eve of 2014. A hundred and fifty children from the SOS Village at Faridabad fetched up to usher in 2015 under the bright shade of India’s historic monument. The city’s Radio FM broadcasted the event and the SOS newsletter touted it as a model of civic engagement. The group was ecstatic. It suddenly became hard to tell who was claiming the evening the loudest.

Matter does remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force

Cur (Nano Fiction)

The three of them stood with bowed heads around the old tree. A tall, strapping senior officer, his helper and the lady wife in her morning walk rig, a baton in hand to keep street dogs at bay.

The officer struck a match briskly, dipping into the bag held out reverentially by his jawan. There was the usual clutter of marigold flowers, glittering red scarves, earthen lamps and a smattering of meagre coins. It was hard to tell the presiding deity from the several clay statues under the thick foliage.

At some minutes to 7 am the tiny cantonment was coming alive. Our trio bowed deeply, hands folded, the couple making offerings and observing all the rituals of a signature puja. In the silence that followed, the three souls sought to connect with the almighty, seeking the choicest of blessings. Having satisfied themselves they had been in order, they gathered up and stepped back slowly, a glow of self-satisfaction stealing up as they turned away and towards home.

They would have barely gone ten and a quarter steps when a scrawny, mangy, flea ridden cur stole up to their spot, lifted an emaciated hind limb and sprayed forcefully, all over their effort.

One being’s meat is at times, another being’s poison.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Long Story Short

My winning story "Twitteromance" will soon be published as part of a short story anthology Notion Press is bringing out on this 25th. The book is entitled "Long Story Short" and will be available for purchase on Flipkart, Amazon, Notion Press store etc. You will also be able to buy the publication as an ebook. Do keep a look out.