Ending Feuds

Little Tom stood quietly beside his daddy and looked on impassively at the proceedings in the hall.

Mommy had made him wear the black tuxedo that Gammy had gifted him on his previous birthday. The last time he had worn it, Gammy had beamed and planted a kiss on his cheek.

Today, Gammy wasn’t talking to anybody. She was sleeping in her wooden box and refused to budge, no matter what people said to her. Grandpa was really upset to the point that he was crying. He kept saying she was behaving this way because they had fought last night.

Submitted for the Weekly Prompt: 100 words story.

Gridlock Brooding

On a typical Monday morning, Vishwa was silently cursing everyone and everything around him. Crammed in a rickshaw with three others, he could feel the sweat running down the small of his back. All around him he could see the miserable commotion that only Indians can cause when caught up in traffic.

He was running late for office and wondered for how long he would be stuck at the same spot before the rickshaw started moving again. As he looked on hopelessly at the people and vehicles around him, he saw some little boys in rags tout their wares.

A little boy carrying too many more bunches of roses than he could, ran up to the rickshaw and asked Vishwa if he would buy a bunch. Vishwa politely declined and sent the boy away. The last time he bought flowers for someone was a certain period and certain someone in his life he no longer wished to think about.

Today, something had triggered inside him and put him in a pensive mood. As he watched the boy walk away, Vishwa felt bad for him.

The more he looked at the little boy, the more Vishwa thought about his plight.  The boy was very young and if the world had been a kind place, he would have been in school studying languages and math like most children his age. But he just wasn’t fortunate enough to be part of that world.

He belonged to a different sphere where the only language was hunger, where no matter what the math he would always be poor, where success was measured by two meals a day and the sole motto in life was seeking subsistence.

Couldn’t people just buy a bunch of roses for the sake of the boy? Did they not understand what difference fifty rupees could make to his life? Have people today become so selfish that they fail to think of the less fortunate? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if people like Vishwa could do something for the likes of the little boy?

The sound of a car honking brought Vishwa back from his reverie. He saw that the signal had turned green and the rickshaw was now jolting forward in a frenzy. Less than a minute later, the rickshaw came to a halt as the signal turned red again, with the customary cursing and honking ensuing.

Just then, a loud cry from somewhere behind them caught Vishwa’s ear. He popped his head out to see that a crowd had gathered not far away.

“What happened??” he asked the driver of the rickshaw behind them.

“Accident..” came the callous reply as the driver got out and walked off to join the crowd.

His eyes transfixed on the back of the crowd, mixed emotions engulfed Vishwa as he sat there processing what he had just heard. A few minutes later, he watched as the rickshaw driver sauntered back to his vehicle and lit a cigarette as if nothing had happened.

“What is going on?” Vishwa demanded impatiently.

Mar gaya harami..” the rickshaw driver replied as he puffed on his cigarette, his voice devoid of any emotion.

For some strange reason, the word harami brought back the image of the little boy to his mind. Overwhelmed, Vishwa stepped out of the rickshaw to give the driver a piece of his mind, when his phone rang.

“Where the hell are you, Vishwa?” Mr Grewal’s voice bellowed through the phone. “It is Monday morning and the delegates from Russia are in the office waiting for you. Do you not remember you have a presentation to make today?”

“I do, Sir. But..”

“I don’t want to hear it, Vishwa.” Mr Grewal cut him short. “Either you drag your ass here in five minutes or don’t bother coming at all ever again. Are we clear?”

Before Vishwa could answer, his manager slammed the phone down. The presentation was something he had been working on for over a month and messing it up meant he could get fired today.

For a moment, Vishwa stood there on the road under the blazing morning sun, too many thoughts clouding his mind. He took a step towards the crowd when he was startled by all the honking around him. The signal had turned green and people were scurrying back to their vehicles.

He stood there watching as the crowd dispersed. People hurried past him to their vehicles, calling out to one another that everything was okay and that the road had been cleared.

His rickshaw driver honked and asked Vishwa to get in. He wanted to cross the signal before it turned red again.

Vishwa’s mind was racing when he flopped back into the seat and they sped half-way across the city as if nothing had happened a few minutes ago.

What had just happened? The passerby’s comment lingered on his mind.

Everything was okay and the road had been cleared.

What had they meant by it? What about the person who had died? Had such things become so common that people now deemed it routine? What is the value of a human life then?

As Vishwa entered his office, he still did not have answers. He drank some water from the cooler and headed to the conference hall where Mr Grewal was waiting along with the Russian delegates.

He opened the door to the conference hall to find a beaming Mr Grewal, his hair newly dyed orange, addressing the delegates.

Vishwa sighed. It was going to be a long week.

The Irony in Goodness

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Image Credits: Dreamstime

One fine day exactly five years ago, as we walked down the boardwalk holding hands, I asked you that question.

“Why do you love me?”

“Because I see the goodness in you. But more importantly because you are my best friend and I want to make sure you get all the happiness in the world..” you said.

***

For twenty odd years, I was happy in my own little world. Then you came along, tore down my walls, breached my defenses and barged in. Even more so, you conquered spaces I didn’t know I had within me.

You altered my habits and beliefs. You changed my routine, my prayers, my hopes and my dreams. You imprinted upon every thought and action of mine. You transformed me in ways I hadn’t imagined possible.

***

Six months ago, we went to the wedding planner you thought best. We picked out your wedding suit, my pretty white gown and our wedding bands in gold. We got the best chef, stylist and photographers in town. The invitations printed and addressed to guests in silver and white because you thought it elegant.

I believed I had the fairy tale come true. I had never dreamt of a great future before you. But now I was letting myself dream, fantasizing a happily ever after.

***

All it took was a single moment of weakness on your part to wreck it. You were drunk. But not drunk enough when you slept with someone else. She is two months pregnant now.

The hotel manager, the caterer and the florist keep calling me asking why we cancelled our reservation. I cannot bring myself to tell them. You called the marriage off.

***

Today, as you stand before me with your head hanging low, your lips stretch to reveal a sad smile.

“How could you do this to me?” I rage.

“Because I see the goodness in you. But more importantly because you are my best friend and I want to make sure you get all the happiness in the world..” you say.

***

A Plier Tale

“I wouldn’t dream of hurting you. You know that right?”

“Are you sure about that?” she asked looking up at him anxiously. “It’s my first time.”

“I’ll be quick”, he promised.

She winced in pain as he put his skill to use.

Seconds later, her tooth fell into a tray nearby. Just as the dentist put the pair of pliers away, the little girl in the chair smiled happily at her father.

******

Us

Past midnight,
Little lights shine all over the sky
Reminding me of the sparkle in your eyes
A moon,
the shape of your smile.

A soothing breeze blows
Bracing my skin
As you did long ago.
Soon it turns cold
Just like us.

Thank you for bearing with me and reading it! That was my first attempt ever at writing a poem.
I know its terrible for a start. But if I need to write something good, I’ll have to start with something as bad!

Oh and by the way, that has nothing to do with my life!

Any comments and feedback are more than welcome.

Cheers!

Everything Changes

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt “Everything Changes“.

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I couldn’t have cared less about the world around me as I walked around on the streets in a haze, all sense of time and place lost.

“What do people who have lost their jobs and homes usually do to kill time?” I used to wonder. I wish someone had warned me that God answers certain rhetorical questions by blessing upon us real-time experiences.

I had all the time in the world to find answers now. My company (a well-known publishing house) had fired me along with several others without notice.

When some of us approached the management the explanation offered was “Recession comes uninvited”. And as the recession raged like an epidemic in the country, there was nowhere to go and no place to be.

I walked on without a clue about where to go or what to do; certificates in one hand and a lunch bag in the other. I had attended atleast a dozen interviews over the last week. I had been to one today morning already.

“We shall let you know soon. Have a good day, Ma’am.” The lady at the reception had smiled that same impassive smile (which I had come to recognize over the past week) as she informed me. At first I was annoyed. Why couldn’t she just tell me that I had screwed it up again and that I wouldn’t land myself in the job? But on second thoughts I realized she was only doing her job.

As I sat down on the wooden bench by the sidewalk, I realized I was famished. I hadn’t eaten since morning and I really needed a bite. I opened my lunch bag and devoured all of its contents quickly. Nothing much really, just a lettuce and tomato sandwich and a carton of juice. Meals were a luxury because I was living off my bank balance which pretty much made no difference to my existence.

Besides, I had another interview to attend in an hour and given I had decided to travel by foot to save money, I had to eat fast.

Just as I finished up my meal, a pleasant breeze blew my hair across my face. I made an effort to brush my hair off my face and knocked my certificate folder onto the sidewalk in the process. When I bent down to pick it up I saw a folded piece of paper lying on the ground. Now usually I wouldn’t bother with such things. But today, something made me pick it up.

On opening the piece of paper, I saw a message scrawled across it in a small and petite handwriting. It said..

Dear Stranger,

Consider this a message from an age-old wise ass to you. I am not going to tell you things which you and I don’t care about. I am going to help you help someone we both know and care about – You.

As is the case of every other human being out there, you are fighting a battle of your own in this world – however big or small it may be and whatever maybe the odds. Just remember, nothing in life ever happens without a reason. What happens to the world, you cannot control. But what happens in your life is the outcome of your discretion. So decide now, whether you wish to write your own destiny or you wish to succumb to a fate that is nothing but the result of your inaction. For now, just remember that this time too shall pass.

Do me a favor and leave this paper back where you found it. It may or may not have helped you, but it might help someone else. Good luck and God bless.”

After I read the note, I just sat there feeling amused. I mean who would write such a note in the first place? It would have to be some fool trying to spread love and light in this hopeless recession-hit world. Besides, he/she could have framed the message a little better.

While I folded back the piece of paper, I realized what a pathetic hypocrite I was. Here was a man or woman trying to make a difference in somebody else’s life while I couldn’t even soak up some warmth from a stranger.

Maybe he was right. Maybe he was wrong. I had lost my job for no fault of mine. But had I lost out on the jobs over the last week because of my fault? Well maybe I could have worn the better jacket (I had saved to wear on Christmas Eve) to the interview. Maybe I could have answered a few questions more intelligently. Would it have a made a difference? Maybe.

I realized the stranger was right somewhere along the line. I couldn’t complain about God being unfair or anything as of that matter when my outlook in itself was flawed. I had to do something about it, today. I had to change.

I closed my eyes for a good five minutes and sat there till my mind became clear. I took a deep breath and exhaled. Then I opened my eyes and smiled. For now, I saw the world differently. Only because I had chosen to.

I stood up from the wooden bench. As I picked up my folder again, I carefully placed the folded piece of paper on the bench with a stone on top. And then, I watched myself walk away.

Secret Admirer

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Secret Admirers.”

The heat was killing me and I was muttering under my breath as I walked back home from college under the scorching sun. I had lent my umbrella to a friend and honestly, I regretted it. What wouldn’t I give to get back that umbrella right now?

“Just a furlong more”, I told myself.

The moment I got home and my brother opened the door Continue reading “Secret Admirer”

Something wrong

PROMPT

They went to the movie theater every week, but today something was different..

As he sat between his mom and dad, little Sam was distracted. What had they meant earlier?

In the afternoon, he had been coloring his cartoon book when he heard a crashing sound from the kitchen. Sam got up and listened from the hallway.

“I can’t do this every day Emma!” daddy was shouting. “Let’s just tell Sam the truth. The sooner we do the better. He has to know some day.”

“Shhh.. We will.. But first you need to calm down..” his mom had replied.

Moments later Sam could hear the sounds of their muffled crying.

He had gone back to color his book and neither of them had told him anything. They had been smiling and laughing all evening.

Now he was anxious to know and it was killing him.