The scavenger

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‘It stinks…’ the voices whispered in Aryan’s ear.  ‘I can’t breathe’ a voice choked in his throat, Aryan bolted upright in his bed, trying hard to catch his own breath. It was way before sunrise, the sky outside his window was covered in a thick carpet of dark clouds and the carpet was leaking. It wasn’t a strong rain, the sky wasn’t weeping and shouting at the earth, the sky was murmuring obscenities and threats. And it had been going on all night long. And that meant the ground was overflowing with the rainwater and that meant the drainage was clogged. Read more

Ria auntie’s arrival

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I yawned at the arrival terminal of the international airport, trying to open my mouth as wide as the gates. It was a Sunday morning and I was at the airport to receive Ria aunty. There should be a law about not allowing relatives to travel on Sundays. I made a mental note to start an online petition for a such a law. I half-heartedly held up the homemade sign that read “Ria aunty” in glaring pink letters, that my sister had made. You see, I hadn’t met Ria aunty. Of course, my mother said I had, at a wedding when I was five. But, I don’t remember it, the most I can recall is a silk saree clad wall of fat lumbering over to pull my cheeks until they turned red and tousle my hair. There might have been a bear hug that engulfed me in a cloud of cheap perfume and almost made me faint. I decided I had repressed the memory on purpose and didn’t dwell on it further.

The flight was announced and there was the usual flurry of people exiting the airport, but there was no sign of Ria aunty. As the last people from the plane left I felt my heart lighten. Maybe Ria aunty had suffered a heart attack, ok that was harsh, maybe she had just fractured her hip, whatever the reason was she was not here and that meant one less thing to take care of for the occasion. I turned around to leave when I heard the slow creaking of a wheelchair. Two of the airport staff emerged, one pushing a mound of luggage and the other pushing a figure in a wheelchair. I bit my tongue as I realised the figure in the wheelchair was Ria aunty. She was well dressed but looked pale almost like a wax statue. I felt sad for having thought so ill of her. I promised myself to strive to be a better person. I walked towards Ria aunty. Read more

A glitch in the matrix

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“Dude, how long have we been best friends.” Akhil wiped the sweat off his brow.

“Since forever, what’s up?” Prakash said.

“I need your help…” Akhil whispered.

“Let me guess, it is to bury a body?” Prakash laughed.

After a few minutes, they were in the basement of Prakash’s building, staring into the bonnet of his car at what looked like a body wrapped in a gunny sack.

“Are you fucking serious?” Prakash soured and looked around the basement.

“I told you I was in deep shit…” Akhil said.

“Why would you bring it here though? You could have just called me home…” Prakash stared at the body again.

“I panicked…” Akhil shrugged, “will you help me or not?”

Prakash kicked the car tyre, walked around the basement and looked back at the body, “who is it?”

“No, the lesser you know the better,” Akhil said.

“Ok…well I am already involved. Might as well see to it you don’t screw this up…” Prakash closed the bonnet and got into the car.

Half an hour later, they were on the outskirts of the city in an old graveyard, hip deep in a newly dug grave.

“That should be deep enough…” Prakash said. They pulled the body out of the car and carried it towards the grave. Read more

You are late

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Ah, why am I late? Well, in fact, there is a very interesting story behind that. But, do you think we have the time of that now? Oh, we do, is it? We have time for a long story, but we don’t have time for me being late by a few minutes, is it? Ok, I see how it is. Well fine, I will tell you the story.

Long, long ago before there was anything, Father time had just begun seeing Mother space. They had decided to go on a date that day. This was before they had moved in together and Father time still lived at his own place. Father time was very different then, not the busy, bossy, no-fun time we know now. He was young and relaxed. He had flowing black hair that needed a lot of care to style. And so by the time he took a nice long shower, styled his hair, picked out his outfit, and reached the venue of their date Mother space had been waiting for what seemed a very long time to her.

“You are late!” She shouted when she saw Father time. Read more

Insane remedies

 

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“Ma, I am fine…There is no need for this…” Ajay said in a forced whisper as if someone could hear him. But there wasn’t anyone around in the old building or in the grounds around the building. Ajay couldn’t make out what the building had been earlier…perhaps an old government office. He thought he saw the remains of an old filing cabinet in one of the rooms. An owl hooted loudly in the building somewhere. Ajay searched around for it.

“This is really not needed…I am fine…Let’s go…” he whispered harder to his mother.

“You call this fine…” his mother hit him on the ass with her umbrella.”

“Ow, you can’t do that…I am a grown man…”

“Then behave like one…All you do is mope around all day…And look how long your beard has grown… there could be sparrows nesting in there for all we know…”

“Beard’s are in right now, ma…” Ajay drawled.

His mother shot him a look that threatened to mow down his beard then and there, “And is lying in your bed for 20 hours a day also ‘in’ right now…”

Ajay stopped walking and let his mother walk ahead. He was surprised by the change in his otherwise​ docile loving mother. Suddenly, she was an assertive person who knew what needed to be done. Her heart was in the right place, he just wished her brain was in the right one too.

“Ok, fine…but what are we doing here? What is this place anyway?” Ajay braced himself as a big fat rat ran past them.

“This is an Ashram…” his mom said charging ahead despite the rat. Read more

Eat your cake, Alice.

cake-chocolate-chocolate-cake-132694Alice knew she was running late when the March Hare overtook her, checking his watch and mumbling, “I am late..” to himself. Alice ran after the hare, she didn’t like being late for the tea party, but more importantly, she was hungry and would have loved some cake right about then.

She opened a door and walked into the courtyard where they always had their tea.

The Mad Hatter sat at the head of the table with the March Hare and the left and the dormouse to his right. The dormouse was busy typing away at his typewriter, though why a tea party needed its minutes recorded Alice did not really know. Alice noticed there were new guests at the tea table as she set her flamingo down and took her usual seat opposite the mad hatter.

The March Hare passed her a cup of tea and Alice thanked him as she took the cup. She snatched glances at the new guests at the table as she sat down again.

There was an angel with a halo around his head. And a bear who kept lifting his club up and down in one hand as he daintily held onto his teacup in the other. There was a large colourful parrot that was turning the pages of a book at a fast pace. Alice gave them all a smile and sipped her tea.

“Had a good round of your game, I hope.” The Mad Hatter said pointing to her flamingo.

“Yes, I did indeed. Managed my best score yet.” Alice smiled at the hatter.

“That’s my girl, the hatter smiled back.” Read more

A Mother’s love

ali-morshedlou-598386-unsplashNorman stood outside his mother’s room. He sighed and balanced the tray in his hand, he had made all her favorites, pancakes, sunny-side up eggs, and freshly squeezed orange juice. He knocked on the door.

“Come in” his mother’s hoarse voice shouted.

Norman entered the room and placed the tray on his mother’s bed, across her lap.

“About damn time. What is this breakfast or brunch?” Mother hissed at him, “ I thought you had forgotten about me.”

“Sorry mother, I had to go out to get the oranges, we ran out of them.”

“This is why I tried all my life to teach you discipline. God knows I tried. You used to be better when I could get out of bed and whoop your sorry ass.” Mother took a sip of the orange juice, “ and you still cannot choose ripe oranges. What am I going to do with you?”

Norman stared at his feet. He had to hold both his hands to keep them from shivering. His mouth was dry. He tried to lick his lips but there was no moisture in his mouth. Breakfast was the best time to tell mother. She would only grow grumpier through the day. And he had been wanting to say this for a while now.

“Mother…” he whispered. She did not hear him and continued eating the pancakes.

“Mother, I have decided to leave,” he said as if testing her hearing. Read more

Little red ghagra choli

 

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Little Pinky jumped up in joy because it was Diwali. It meant she got to wear her brand new red ghagra choli. It also meant she got to visit her grandmother. Little Pinky got ready even before mommy told her to get up. When mommy came into her room, mommy was very happy to see her ready and helped her into her brand new glittery ghagra choli.

“Can I go meet grandma now?” Little Pinky jumped up and down with excitement.

Mommy’s face fell. She rubbed her eyes and sighed. She forced herself to smile and said, “Yes Pinky, you can go and visit grandma…”

“Yay!” Pinky ran around the house in joy.

Mommy gave her a large box of sweets, “give this to Grandma. Wish her a happy Diwali.”

Pinky nodded, “I have my own gift for Grandma too.” She ran into her room, pulled out her gift from her school bag and placed it inside the box of sweets.

Little Pinky noticed her mom sitting sadly on the sofa. Mommy liked grandma too, just like Pinky did. But grandma and mommy had been fighting recently. Pinky didn’t know why, when she asked mommy, mommy simply said it was because grandma wanted to give her cousin Pappu more chocolates than her. This had hurt Pinky, why would grandma give Pappu more chocolates? Pinky always thought grandma liked her more. But Pinky was sure when grandma saw her in her new red ghagra choli and ate her sweets she would love her again. And she would give her more chocolates than Pappu.

Pinky went to Mommy, “Don’t worry mommy. I will make sure grandma loves me more. I will take good care of grandma.” Read more

Devil’s contract

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Samir reached for his phone just as he opened his eyes and checked the status of his last released book as was his habit. It was still first on the bestseller list even after all these weeks. He picked up the newspaper, an article on the lower right-hand corner read, “Health of the hugely successful and controversial writer Samir Shastri rapidly deteriorates.” Samir put the paper away and wondered how much of the book’s sales were due to his supposedly sudden demise. He had wanted to finish another book before his time was up, but he found the constant headaches made it difficult to write. He had known the devil had a good sense of irony but had not predicted that he would have a brain tumor because of it. Well, as far as cancers went it was a fast way to go. He looked around himself at the five-star hospital room where he had spent the past few weeks of his life, it wasn’t a bad way to go.

Samir was sure it would happen that day because the same day ten years ago he had signed the contract.

“You can show yourself now you old hag, we can have a chat before you cap me off…” Samir shouted to the empty room.

The window on the right of his hospital bed darkened. The darkness seemed to pulse and percolate into the room where it gathered itself just a few feet from Samir’s bed. The darkness grew until it seemed to feed on the light in the room. It condensed into large leathery wings, a face that had the large eyes of a fly and lion’s mouth and a snake’s tongue. Its body had four arms with long claws and the body ended in the tentacles of an octopus.

Samir rolled his eyes.

“You will show more respect when you talk to Beelzebub, Duke of hell.”

“Hey, there you are Beelzy, you old fucker. He wants respect it seems, and what you going to do if I don’t show any, kill me?” Samir laughed and began to cough. Read more

Holier than thou

animals-cattle-cows-162801“Would you ever hurt your own mother?” Mr.Om glared at the audience, “Would you let anyone else hurt your mother?” Impassioned spittle flew into the microphone. “No” Mr. Om answered himself, “then why is it okay to let our gaumatas get hurt? Why is it ok to allow them to be killed just to feed Ome adharmic rakshas somewhere?” Mr.Om shook with feeling.

“Are we not here today because of our gaumatas? I know I am. I have enough calcium in my bones today because of all the milk I drank over a lifetime, from countless cows. I have enough strength in my muscles,” Mr.Om flexed a hefty bicep, “because of all the ghee I have eaten thanks to the generous gaumatas. Monsoons are here, the weather is changing, I can see a lot of you are sick with the flu, and yet here I am perfectly healthy, talking at the height of my voice. How is this possible? This is possible only because of the gomutra I drink every morning.” Read more