Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

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No title – part 2

November 24, 2015

Continued from here

‘Sharan! Please say something.’

‘Had I not known you better, I would’ve said oh you’re blowing me off cos you want to be single and footloose when you move to Spain. All those Hispanic dudes…’

‘Hahahahahaha. Dude!’

Sharan sat down and stared at Anu. 

‘Sharan, jokes apart…’

‘Thank you.’

‘What?’

‘Thank you for being honest enough to see our relationship for what it is, Anu. And thank you for being honest enough for the both of us.’

It was Anu’s turn to go speechless for a bit. 

‘Do you think we are beyond repair?’

‘Well, we could try starting over. But yeah, I agree, a break would do us good. And you can have all the fun you want to in Spain.’

Anu responded by throwing a cushion at him. 

‘Are you a little disappointed that I’m not upset?’

‘You know me too well, Sharan. But I know you are a little upset deep down, but too reluctant to let it show.’

‘Look at us. Know-it-alls.’

‘And yet, it took us this long to confront the elephant in the room. Wait, DON’T turn that into a fat joke.’

Sharan stood up and kissed Anu. ‘Gah, I am going to miss you.’

‘Me too.’

Anu blinked away her tears, and said, ‘Friends, then?’

Sharan sighed. 

‘Too soon?,’ said Anu. 

‘Way too soon. Give it a year, perhaps?’

Anu nodded, and hugged Sharan and walked out.

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Happy Birthday

November 11, 2015

The man in the brown shirt walked into the electronics mega-store and looked befuddled as soon as he entered. So many floors and so many sections. Finally, a kind-looking sales guy approached him, and directed him to the mobile phones section. 

“What features are you looking for?”

“Can you please show me a good phone for Rs 5000? It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow and finally I can buy her something nice.”

“Sure, here are the options.”

After about half an hour, the man in the brown shirt walked out with a shiny new phone in an unopened box. 

*Beepbeeepbeepbeepbeeepbeepbeep*

A security guard quickly stepped out and firmly caught hold of his arm. 

“Sorry sir, but we need to check your bag and frisk you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Our alarm beeped. This means you’ve taken something that you haven’t paid for.”

“But I only bought this phone. And paid for it. And there’s nothing else in this bag. Please let me go.”

When they pulled out a pen drive from his back trouser pocket, he was as befuddled as he was when he entered the store. 

“We have to call the police.”

*************

A couple of hours later, once the shutters were down, the security guard lit a cigarette and shared it with the sales guy. 

“It’s been a while since I got a bonus of any sort, and I’ve been having money trouble at home. Thanks for doing this.”

“This was so easy. And you’ve given me a sizeable cut. Tell me when you need a bonus again,” he said with a wink. 

“What do you plan to do with it?”

“Buy a phone for my wife. It’s her birthday tomorrow.”


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No Title – part 1

November 7, 2015

‘Are you freaking kidding me?,’ said Meeta.

Anu knew this would be a difficult conversation but this had not begun well at all.

‘No, I’m serious. I’m going to be 25 in a couple of months. And..’

‘And you guys will be celebrating 10 years of being together the same day. And you want to just throw that away? You’re being ridiculous.’

‘Listen…’

‘No, YOU listen to me. You’re being stupid. Daft. Thick. So bloody insane.’

‘Thank you. Now, could you please hear me out?’

Meeta sighed. ‘OK, please finish.’

‘I’ve been thinking of this for nearly a year now. We’ve been together all these years, things have become so..predictable. Feels like we’ve already been married for five years now. What can possibly change?’

‘Anu, you met the right guy when you were 15. Do you realise how lucky you are? You think it might have been fun if you’d dated a few more guys before you found him? Have you forgotten how utterly destroyed I was after my last two breakups?’

‘No, I haven’t, and I don’t mean that, okay? I’m just saying I feel like this relationship is a large part of my identity now. I constantly wonder if I would’ve turned out to be a different person if not for Sharan. If I’d been single in my growing-up years.’

‘You guys have grown up together, how is that a bad thing? You’re so perfect together. You guys practically finish each others’ sentences.’

‘Exactly. Where is the element of surprise? I can tell the sort of day he’s had at work by the way he sets his bag down when we meet for coffee!’

‘You know what, my Mom’s right. She says when something comes to you too easily, you don’t value it. You’re throwing away a good thing, Anu, and you clearly don’t see it.’

‘I’m not breaking up with him. I want to take a break for a while. That’s it.’

‘What is this, a bloody commercial break? All the drama and laughter continues right from where you stopped?’

‘Well, I want to see what Sharan thinks of the idea.’

‘And if he doesn’t want to “take a break”?’

‘Then I might have to break up with him.’

‘You’ve clearly made up your mind. Why do I need to waste my breath?’

‘Meetu, come on. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s taken me a lot of time to come to this decision.’

‘You’ll be sorry you did.’

‘Hey, thanks for being so supportive, Meetu. You probably don’t realise how hard this is for me. I can understand you’re protective about Sharan, but spare a thought for me too.’

‘Anu, you’ll be distraught when you break up. I’m being protective about you. YOU don’t realise how hard this is going to be for you.’

‘Meetu.’

‘Anu, please. Can’t do this anymore. Gotta go.’

************************

(Part 1 of n. A loose plot that’s been in my head for a while now. Parts of it lie drafted out on an old laptop and a hard-drive, I think. But I figured I’d start over and re-write. I’ve no clue where the plot is heading myself. Humour me, okay?)

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Time

October 15, 2009

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Sam paced around the cell restlessly. The verdict had been delivered a week ago and he had had ample time to come to terms with it. Denial for a while, anger for the longest. Bargaining was out of question and depression wasn’t worthwhile. So he came to accept it quietly after a couple of days. That his end would come one day he was always aware, now he had an expiry date to watch out for.

He was making a list of things he still wanted to do. 45 is too young an age to take away someone’s life at. But then, 10 is even younger, and far worse. But it was an accident…

He shook off the images from his head and put his mind back on the list. Say sorry. No, scratch that. Try and convey how sorry I am. Climb the Himalayas. Read Ulysses. The rest of the list was really meaningless after the first one. There was only so much he could do in that 4×4 cell of his. There was only one thing that was really meaningful. The rest were really there to fill up the numbers. All those lists you see – ” Run a marathon. Get a tattoo.”, not one of them really mean those things. It’s all there to make you look cool and like you’re really achieving something. All these guys in the prison, all of them have tattoos. What is so cool about it anyway? And most of them must have covered a fair distance while running away from the law, he smiled ruefully. He tore up the list and got down to the only thing that really mattered.

He wrote page after page, describing his growing up in a small town in Iowa. And how being orphaned early, he was brought up by his grandparents. He described the little things he could recall. Like the smell of his Grandma’s chicken pie wafting through while he played in the backyard. The games he played with his friends from the neighborhood. His little dog, Tex. And how devastated he was when he went missing one day, never to be found again. He wrote like there was no tomorrow. Well, there was to be no tomorrow for him in a couple of weeks. He wrote about growing up, his college life, being an adult, the girlfriends he had, meeting his wife, now the problems they were facing. He laid his life bare on paper, like he was talking to an old friend. It was cathartic, reliving his whole life. Figuring out what he was really proud of, what he could’ve done better.

And then he wrote how sorry he was that little Tim’s childhood was so tragically cut short. How he wished a thousand times over that he hadn’t driven out in a blind rage that night. And that he would do anything to rewrite the story that day. How he finally felt he was ready for his punishment, ready to go.

He then sent it off to be mailed and stared out of the cell, wondering what he would do next. He wrote some more – letters to old acquaintances, people he wished he hadn’t lost touch with. It’s a good time to let go of grudges when you’re staring down the barrel. And send out apologies your ego has held back for far too long. Once he started he couldn’t stop. For two days he wrote like his life depended on it – sadly, it didn’t. By the end he had made his peace finally. There was a strange calm, but an empty feeling. He had two weeks to go and nothing left to do. He had done all that he wanted to, he was ready to go. Finally ready. Maybe I should ask for a copy of Ulysses, he thought.

The guard came by and summoned him a few days later. The officer broke the news to him. There was a sad, confused look on his face.

“What am I going to do now? I …was ready to go.”

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Bloodbath

June 23, 2009

With a maniacal gleam in her eyes she rained blows on him.

Die, you bastard, Die!

She sat back and watched him struggle and then die. She walked to the bar and poured herself a drink. Laughing gleefully, she raised her glass.

To freedom, finally.

She heard the latch and saw her husband walk in. He saw the gleam of satisfaction on her face – ‘All gone, huh?’

Let’s just say we’re never gonna be bothered again.

Impressive. You could turn professional, you know?

And what, call myself ‘Xena, the cockroach slayer?’, she laughed, relaxing for the first time since they moved into the new apartment.

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Tea

June 7, 2009

I smile to myself

stirring sugar into the tea.

I set down the two cups

and start sipping one.

I remember how

you’d frown upon

my incessant tea-drinking,

and chide me endlessly.

I overlooked all of your vices.

The excessive drinking I ignored,

the smoking I put up with.

Passively.

The womanizing I turned a blind eye to.

Yet my one vice, I couldn’t have.

So I settle down with the tea,

and set your picture beside the other cup.

It isn’t that I miss you

(I do)

Or wish you were here to share some tea

(I don’t)

Just this delicious desire to spite you

as you look up and see

me

relishing my second cup of tea.

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Yours, faithfully.

June 3, 2009

He checked into the hotel, late in the evening. The same one he’d stay in, every couple of months when he visited the city. The same old, but well-furnished one located in the seedy district of town. His company was barely making profits, and this hotel by virtue of its location was cheaper than most other good ones. A quick wash later, he stepped out.

Right outside, she stood waiting.
“You seem lonely…”
He walked on, ignoring her. She looked gorgeous alright, but he wasn’t going there.
“I’ve seen you come here every other month. You stay for a few days and I presume, work all the time and then head back. Don’t you need some company?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
“Ah the virtuous one, I see. Well, I hope you change your mind”, she called out, as he walked away.

A couple of hours later when he returned, and she was still there.
“You’ve changed your mind, I presume?”
He tried to be firm, “Listen, I’m married…”
“Not a problem. I don’t kiss and tell”, she smiled.
“Look, I’m not interested, really. Just leave me alone.”
“Oh alright.”
Relieved, he started towards the lobby.
“But, I have a favour to ask.”
“I’m homeless, currently. I thought I could use a room to stay for the next three days. Which is sort of why I approached you in the first place.”
“You’re kidding me”, he said, exasperated.
“No, I swear it’s true. Believe me!”, she pleaded earnestly.
He looked at her. She was either one hell of an actress, or genuinely in trouble. She didn’t seem the trampy types, and in any other setting, he might have thought her a decent person.
Okay, but you get out in the mornings as I leave. And let’s make this clear. You’re just sharing the room with me. Don’t try and get me to “change my mind” again.”
“Thanks, you’re a gentleman indeed.” she said, seemingly touched.
And they went in.

***

“Lady, your man is good as gold.”
“Really?”
“Yes, for three nights I tried. Nothing worked, not even throwing myself at him in my seductive best!”, she said with a laugh. “On the third night, after yet another blatant attempt to seduce him, he saw through me and threw me out on my ass.”
“Hmm.”
“Quite a pity really, cos I was really beginning to like the man”, she said keenly watching Mrs. Taylor for a reaction.
“I bet you were”, she said with a smile, beginning to relax.
“So, go on and be happy with your man, Mrs. Taylor. They don’t make men like those anymore. He’s clearly deeply in love with you and he’s not going anywhere.”

She smiled broadly, clearly relieved.

“He’d get back from work really late every night, and dutifully make that good night call to you before turning in. What’s not to love in a man, who calls and says in the most tender voice ‘I love you Susan, I can’t wait to see you’, every single night? Hold on to your man, Mrs. Taylor, and may I say, woman to woman, he’s a keeper for sure!”

Mrs.Taylor nodded, seemingly reluctant to make any further conversation. She thanked her, money changed hands and they parted ways.

***

When he got home, he found a card on the bed.

We’re over. You’ll hear from my lawyer.

Yours  faithfully,

Cindy

PS: Give my regards to Susan.

***