Outcast

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“I am the better one. You can never be as good as me. You were born grey, you were born ugly.”
These words, dripping of pride and arrogance, were never actually uttered. But the eyes said it all.
“The world sees you in colour because the creator desires you to be so. But for our greys, your colour would not have meant a thing. Your pride is hollow. Your color nothing but the chaos in our calm. You really don’t fit in. Can’t you see that?”
“You are the outcast.”

Hauslein

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“हम अपना महल यहाँ बनाएँगे।”
“पर भाई, यहाँ पानी आएगा तो महल बह जाएगा।”
“अरे हम पानी पे ही तो महल बना रहे हैं।”
“पानी पे महल!”
“और नहीं तो क्या। हमारा महल पानी के बीच होगा। सबसे अलग, सबसे अनोखा।”
“पर अगर महल बह गया तो?”
“और अगर नहीं बहा तो? अरे तू ज्यादा सोच मत। अगर बह गया तो हम फिर से दूसरा बना लेंगे।”
“और अगर नहीं बहा तो हमारा महल सबसे अनोखा होगा ना?”
“हाँ, सबसे अनोखा, सबसे सुन्दर।”
“पर बह गया तो कितनी मेहनत बेकार हो जाएगी।”
“अरे जब तक बनायेंगे नहीं तो पता कैसे चलेगा।”

Ye Dosti!

Since few days, rather weeks, nah… I guess its apt to say months. Yeah! so since few months I have been craving to write a story. I have been reading a lot of blogs, Micro fictions by my friend, stories by others. In short, I have been getting a lot of small doses of stories. And my fingers have been itching to pen down one myself. But I am not in a mental state (yeah the same old attention seeking drama) to write one. I haven’t been able to hit upon any idea. I know if I sit down to write I will do a pathetic job of penning down something nauseously dark and negative.

But today I have hit upon one idea. I have no clue how well it’s going to turn out but it sure does sound good in my head. It is infact total random nonsense.

Anyways…

Once upon a time there was a happy kid. On his special day he was presented with a slick, cool mobile phone of latest technology. The mobile phone came with a set of swanky white earphones. The kid, the earphones, and the mobile phone became best buddies. They were inseparable.

Two years went by. The three friends saw a lot of ups and downs. The kid started doing poorly in exams. His friends got blamed for the same. But the kid didn’t want his friends to go away so he worked hard and bettered his scores. The phone fell down a lot of times. It was ageing faster. And was burdened under the expectations of his best friend, the kid. It wanted to fulfill everything that the kid wished for. The earphones too didn’t have it easy. It had its own tangles to deal with. So many times it lost its earbuds, but the kid always got a new pair from somewhere and replaced them. So went on the days. All three of them looking out for each other and supporting each other until that woeful day.

It was a sunny afternoon. The kid, along with his buddies, was returning home from school. All three were enjoying each other’s company when suddenly out of nowhere a two goons on a speeding mobike whizzed past the kid nabbing the mobile phone in his hand. The kid was shocked. The earphones fell to the ground. And the mobile phone was gone.

The kid stood up, still in shock of what had happened. When finally the incident registered, he started crying. He looked for the earphones and saw it lying in the dust. The kid picked it up. The earphones were mauled due to friction. Once again one of its earbuds were lost. The kid started crying even more hardly looking at its condition. He stuffed it inside his pocket and ran home, tears still flowing down his dust stained cheeks.

Days passed away. The kid’s parents could not see their child all sad and broken. A new friend was brought home for the kid. The kid was happy again. He doesn’t miss his old mobile phone now. And the earphone. It still is lying, forgotten, in some dark corner of the kid’s bag.

The Silk Scarf

A sigh of relief escaped him as soon as he entered the Metro Station. The heat outside was scorching. It was still March but summer seemed to be at its peak already. The sanctuary of the underground metro station was his escapade from the heat. He pulled out his white kerchief from his pocket, removed his cap and wiped the droplets of sweat which had beaded on his head. Pulling out the water bottle from his back pack, he downed the remaining water in a single gulp as he made his way towards the platform.

3 o’ clock in the afternoon was the worst time his client could have chosen to schedule the meeting. But in his line of work client was God and no one ever said no to them. Grumbling under his breath he continued to move towards the platform. He checked the information panel for the arrival time of his train. There was still 20 minutes left. He mentally calculated that it would take him at least 25 minutes to reach his destination station and 5 minutes walk from there to the client place. He checked his watch. It was still 2 pm. He was well within time. So he looked around for a secluded place and on spotting an abandoned pillar a little further away he went and stood there.

The crowd at the platform was sparse compared to usual. There were few kids in school uniforms, who stood dwindling their water bottles, their white shirts soiled and crumpled and ties hanging around their throat, displaced carelessly from their designated place. A little distance away, a group of girls stood in red, green, yellow denims and color coordinated tops, their lips smacked with bright red and pink color and eyes lined heavily with all kinds of colors other than black, giggling and chattering among themselves. There were few others like him, dressed in their work formals, their laptop bags uncomfortably perched on their backs, wearing that same heat struck weary look. Then there were the old couple dressed classily, the man almost sending an aura of retired military personnel with similar dignified lines of age and experience on his face with his wife holding a big brown leather bag, wearing a beige trouser and a long white cotton shirt, a lock of grey, neatly blending with the rest of her short straight black hair, with crow feet near her eyes.

His eyes wandered amidst the strange faces of that uninvited party, trying to comprehend a story from all the unspoken messages that their faces reflected. Nobody bothered to even look at the lone body that stood near the pillar, everybody comfortably unaware of the fact that his eyes were carefully canvassing them. And then his eyes came to a stop at a form which he had not noticed before. There huddled close to the other pillar, with its head lowered stood a figure. He was not able to make out at first whether it was a lady or a man. The person was well hidden behind the broad pillar. All he could see was the occasional glimpse of something blue, which peeped from behind the pillar. In a futile attempt to catch a glance of that person he craned himself. 

Curiosity had clouded his reason. He shifted from his resting position steadying himself and started moving towards the other pillar. He moved slowly, careful enough to not attract anybody’s attention. But right then the otherwise peaceful crowd around him erupted into frenzy. His inconspicuous demeanor suddenly disturbed, he was taken aback. Then he realized the cause of this sudden disorder. He could hear the train approaching. He looked at his watch. It was already time. And by the time he could stabilize himself; the train had already reached the platform and halted. The crowd was now moving into the train. He knew he didn’t have time to lose.

Abandoning his quest he started moving in the direction of the train entrance, with the crowd. The train was crowded as usual. And as usual there was no place for him to sit. He somehow managed to find a place to stand, holding one of the yellow hand holders which hung from the rod above.  He had not even steadied himself when the doors closed shut with a hissing sound. He jerked and almost fell on another passenger standing nearby as soon as the train started moving. He pulled himself up and apologized fervently to the person on whom he had fallen. And then from the corner of his eyes he again caught a glimpse of the blue outside the window. His eyes shot in the direction trying to get a clear look to satiate his curiosity. As the train moved out of the station he finally caught sight of the figure that had invoked so much oddity in him.

There near the pillar stood an old lady dressed in black, her head of silver hair covered by the hood of her black jacket and a blue silk scarf loosely tied around her neck, the lone color in her entire ensemble, which freely flowed in the air. Her skin, which was completely frayed and wrinkled, seemed to have aged 100 years old and her eyes, which were sunk in their sockets, were glazed grey. As she caught him staring at her she stretched out a wrinkled hand with dirty long nails and screamed out his name in the scariest sound he had ever heard. He reciprocated her hollow scream and screamed back in agony that had filled his head. Seconds later everything blanked out.

He woke up to find himself in a white room. Everything around him was blurred and hazy. The room was cold and he could hear the monotonous drone of a machine beeping somewhere. He felt groggy as he tried to open his eyes. He tried to speak but all that came out of his mouth were meaningless mumbles. He was confused. He knew not what was happening to him. And then suddenly a face appeared in front of his eyes. The person looked like a doctor.

The doctor checked his pulse and instructed something to the nurse who stood behind him. The nurse handed him an injection which the doctor injected into him. A wave of daze engulfed him and he blanked out again. Hours later when he woke up he, he saw the same doctor again. This time the doctor smiled at him.

“How are you feeling now? You are drugged so you might find difficult to speak so just nod yes or no.”

He nodded a yes.

“You have been in coma since a month. You had already slipped into it when you were brought in. We haven’t been able to figure out a reason for your condition as there seemed nothing wrong with you. Your parents have been informed and they are arriving here soon.” Saying so the doctor smiled.

“By the way would you now leave this scarf? You have held on to it so tightly that it had been impossible for us to take it out of your hands. You have been a curiosity ever since you came in.”

He gave a confused look to the doctor and then looked towards his right hand. There in his fist he held the same blue silk scarf. Memories came flooding back. It was the same scarf that was tied around the neck of that old lady. He looked back at the doctor with a look of horror in his eyes. His head filled with the same scream and agony from that day. He let out a painful scream again. Once again everything blanked out.




PS: Should I title it “The Witch of the Metro Station”?

The Other Side

“…Pro nutra will leave your skin blemish free and glowing within minutes of its application.”
The lady with the perfectly set teeth and flawless skin grinned at the invisible audience and continued prattling in her sing song tone.

It was 3:47 at night and there on the couch in front of the television lay a frail human structure, staring at the screen, with eyes sunk deep in their sockets. Sofia, was not watching the tv. She just stared into the vacant space between her eyes and the tv set.

Things at office were not going well. Carol, her fellow junior editor’s suicide had shaken her to the core. It had already been a week since Carol’s demise but Sofia had not yet been able to digest the truth.

Carol. The one person who was Sofia’s support system at office was no more alive.

Everybody liked Carol. She had been such a lovely person to be with. A cute charming face and a happy demeanor had made Carol everybody’s go-to person. It was the same with Sofia too. Sofia and Carol had hit off a great camaraderie since day one. Personally too they had become great friends. But now Carol was gone, leaving Sofia with a million unanswered questions.

Sofia knew, Carol was not someone to commit suicide. She had no reason to. Sofia was sure that if there was anything bothering Carol, she would have told her. Still the autopsy had declared that it was a suicide. Her death had gravely affected Sofia. It was the thought of Carol’s suicide that had squandered away her sleep. It had been days since Sofia had slept properly.

She knew something was wrong. Carol committing suicide was not something she could digest easily. Grief existed. The loss was unfathomable and something that could not be evened out in anyway. But the doubts and questions related to Carol’s death kept haunting her all the time. They were gnawing her away from inside. And it was the same tonight.

It had been a troublesome day at work today. Nothing had gone right. Sofia had missed an important deadline and had almost lost an important client. Her boss, who was concerned by her state, had thus gently asked her to take the day off and had advised to take rest.But rest and peace were things which were no where in sight for Sofia.

It was a warm night and in her dazed state Sofia had forgotten to open the windows. She had started feeling suffocated, therefore she finally got up from the couch, turned off the tv with the remote and trodded towards the kitchen. She took out a water bottle from the refrigerator and after taking a swig, carried it across her living room. She traced the path towards the living room window. The glass reflected a ghastly face looking back at her. She ignored her reflection and concentrated outside.

Outside, the street was dark and deserted. At a distance, a dimly lit thin lamp-post stood. In the little light that the lamp-post threw, Sofia could make out insects swirling in it. She could hear loud crying of a pack of dogs from somewhere, but they were no where to be seen. Their howling made the hair on her neck stand on the edge. Inspite of it being hot, a chilling shiver ran down her body.

Something wrenched in her gut. Sofia knew something was not right. “Why Carol?” she spoke out aloud to the window, her voice filled with exasperation and eyes brimmed with confusion and tears. She shut her eyes, trying to contain the tears and rested her forehead on the cool surface of the window glass, her right palm fisted into a ball rested on the glass too. The dogs outside had stopped howling and an eerie silence settled around her. Another cold shiver ran down her spine.

Right outside the window, stood a form, with pale lifeless face, staring right at Sofia, through its vacant eyes. Its hand exactly at the place where Sofia’s hand was placed. It stood there lightly floating in the air, expressionless, silently watching the woman on the other side.

The Answering Machine

*phone rings*

“Hey there buddy, you have reached the answering machine of Raine. It is a lovely day outside, so you can leave me a message after the beep and go outside and hope to bump into me in one of those sunlit ways. Bub-bye”

The cheerful crackling voice on the phone went silent. The person on the other end quietly waited for whole 10 seconds and then disconnected the call.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rang again. Once again the voice mail is played. The man on the other end holds the receiver of the phone firmly in his hands. Literally grabbing it with both his palms, he stands inside the telephone booth listening to the voice of Raine. His eyes are filled with anticipation. This time as the message gets over he takes a deep breath and speaks into the phone.

“Hey Raine, uhh it is Aaron here. Uhhh… I called you before also, but that time again I reached your voice mail. Raine… How are you? umm I guess you are out. uhh Actually I called to tell you that… I just wanted to see you… once… Or may be if you could talk to me… just once… Please…? Ok… I will call you later. Hope to catch you then…  bye.”

The man inside the phone booth placed the receiver back to its holder. His hands shivered as he did so. He slowly turned and stepped outside. It had been snowing, and the road on which the phone booth stood was covered in white. Turning up the collar of his overcoat he buried himself deep into it and started walking towards the massive stone mansion that stood at the end of the road.

Right then another man, dressed in a blue uniform, who had been standing behind the phone booth, came out of his hiding and stood before it. He waited for the man in the overcoat to reach halfway to the mansion and then slowly started following him.

After few seconds the walkie-talkie attached to his belt cracked with static. He pulled it out and spoke into 
it, “Yeah John it is done.”

A male voice came from the other end. “Is he OK? Did he suspect anything?”

“No, he is alright. He has almost reached back. I don’t think he suspects anything.”

“Buddy it is becoming weird. This entire business.” spoke the voice on the other end.

The man in the uniform smoothened out the lines of tension with his fingers that had formed on his forehead. He continued to walk towards the stone mansion.

He heaved out a burdened sigh and replied, “John you know we are not supposed to think or ask anything about this entire business. It has to go the way it has been going on since past six months. You be careful with the answering machine ok. Clear the inbox  but in no case delete that girl’s voice.”

“Man it is so spooky to hear her voice every time. I feel one of these days her ghost is actually going to turn up here.”

“Shut up dud! You just follow the boss’ instructions. We are not to think or speak anything else. Master Aaron must have reached by now so shut the fuck up and get to your task”

Saying so, Thomas Bart, head of security of the Kennish Mansion, disconnected the walkie-talkie, replacing it back to his belt and with quick steps started walking back towards the stone mansion.

Story of the Vase

Kept in the sole sunlit corner of that vast room, it stands there – mute and silent, watching each and every movement happening around. Throngs of people pass through that lobby daily, some regular faces, some new. It watches them, the weak smiles, certain cheery ones, the lines on the forehead clearly spelling out the tension brewing inside their skulls, the shivering hands, the knuckles gone white grasping tightly to the files, the throbbing nerves of their neck, the bobbing throats as they gulp down their nervousness, typical trademarks of the new people. Taking it all in, it watches everything.
It follows a regular routine. Every morning a stout lady comes to it who carefully picks it up and takes it to a small pantry like room, where she removes the flowers of the previous day, pours out the slimy water, cleans it under the running tap and wipes it with an utmost soft piece of cloth. She later brings it back to its place where two men dressed in similar dresses, and caps carefully place numerous sticks of new flowers in it one by one.
While it gets filled with fresh water and the bunch of new blooms are placed in them, it watches the woman, stationed behind the wide wooden desk bearing big letters in gold saying RECEPTION, right across the place where it stands, comes to it
She is one of the regular faces it watches, also one of the people who come in the earliest. She wears elf like dark framed glasses with her hair pulled back in a tight bun, wearing neatly ironed crisp business formal, it finds her either smiling at the people coming in or making cordial small talk over the phones.
On various occasions it has found her gazing at it and smiling faintly, so faint that it may almost go amiss. Wonder what she thinks about it. After all it’s a simple glass vase. A glass vase, with thick long grooves moulded on its surface, burnished pink in colour at the bottom, the color fades as it rises up the grooves ultimately assimilating with its sheer transparency, with a dark past.
Although nothing is evident from its appearance, it’s tainted. A fragment of the glass that it is made of bears the blood of a martyr, a war prisoner.
It was a long time ago, but it remembers. It was a part of the single light bulb that had hung over the head of that man. He was dragged into that room by two men wearing the army camouflage. He was blindfolded and was bound to a wooden chair, with ropes scrapping into his skin at his wrists behind the chair and his ankles. 

Whatever part of his face was visible was smeared with faint black grease stripes and grime. There were scratches and gashes on his neck and hands, which weren’t very old, but the blood from them had trickled a little and had dried up. His head hung low with exhaustion and his breathing was heavy. 

It was a small dark room, more like a makeshift room with thatched roof in the middle of the forest, which was under attack. No windows existed and there was just one small entrance. The man had been kept in that room for two days after he was brought in. Nobody had come in those two days.
After two days, a burly man entered the bunk. He brought with him a small three legged wooden stool and a thick iron rod. Two more of his minions had followed him inside.

On receiving the signal from their boss one of the minions brought a bucket of cold water from outside and dumped its contents on the prisoner. The captive had jerked hysterically on coming in contact with the water. That was the start to the 3-day long interrogation that had followed. 

The tortures had worsened, but the big man was nowhere near success in extracting information from his prisoner. The prisoner had said or did nothing other than gathering up enough strength to open his bloodied swollen eyes to look at the frustrated face of his tormentor and curve his dried parched lips into a meek smirk, just to mock him.
That used to infuriate the big man. And one day out of the same frustration he had pulled his revolver out from his holster and had shot the glass bulb, the million fragments of which had fallen on the prisoner, cutting him at various places. The bulb was soon replaced.
That was all the glass from the bulb had witnessed. The fragments were the casualties which were later removed and disposed off as waste and had somehow managed to find its way to a recycling glass factory, where with million other wasted glass pieces it was melted and reformed into this vase.
There were million other stories that coexist with that fragment of glass, some of bar brawls, some of road accidents, some of family fights and some of lovers’ tiff. But I chose this story, because I wanted the vase to have this story. Every object can have a story, if you are willing to listen to it, if you are willing to let that object have a story.

Winter Departs

She pulled the jacket closer and tighter around herself and moved ahead. With every step she took, her boots squished deeper into the thick snow, making it difficult for her to walk. Her palms, bare of the gloves, had turned into marble. She buried them deep into the pockets of her jacket, attempting to revive them back. After almost every 10 steps, she stopped and shook the snow off herself which tended to settle on her head and shoulders.

What was she doing here? The weather channel had clearly predicted a blizzard and warnings had been sent out to everyone to stay indoors. So what was she doing out here today?

She looked at the white desert that lay in front of her. There was a stark blankness all around. The road that once there was, was no more visible. But yet she kept moving. She didn’t need to know where the road was. It was the same path that she had traced a million times before. She could have walked on it with blindfolded eyes.
She kept moving, slowly, counting each step. The cold that had seeped right into the core of her bones were hindering her movement, but yet, she fought on and moved on.

The cold wasn’t the only thing that was slowing her tread. The questions that were buzzing inside her head were no less. If the cold outside was on a mission to freeze her blood, the questions inside her were the leeches that were feeding on it.

“This is stupid, Aggie” a voice broke into her ear. She froze in the place where she stood. No it wasn’t the chill of the snowstorm. It was the voice. She slowly turned, trying to look for the source of the voice. Nothing. No one.

A short chuckle broke out from her, and she turned again to continue her journey. And right there, right in front of her, she stood.

She herself.

It was like looking into the mirror. The same nose, the same hair, the same lips. Everything was the same, but the eyes. The eyes that she was looking into now. There was something startlingly different about those eyes, she could not place what, but they were. They were cryptic, they held a look which she was trying hard to decipher, and was failing. They seemed to held her and bound her.

“What are you?” she thought, and immediately she saw the lips of the girl in front curve into a smile. “Go back Aggie.” came the voice again. The lips were still turned in a smile, they hadn’t moved but then from where did the voice came?

She scrunched her brows, and a look of confusion spread across her face.

What is happening? Is this some kind of hallucination? She thought she is turning insane. She closed her eyes hard, assuming that may be its the snow blindness or some kind of snow mirage. But when she opened her eyes, she was still there with those same cryptic eyes, still smiling.

“This is no hallucination, Aggie, and no you are not insane. But now you have to stop. Enough it is already.” Caught by the look in her eyes. Her own eyes, she stood there before herself, motionless. And the voice, continued to echo in her ear.

“Its time to go back, Aggie. Its time to go home. Everything will be fine. All you need to do is trust yourself.”

“So turn around now.”

And as if held my some invisible arms she was shaken from her position and flung around.

“Ma’am, are these yours?” There stood a man holding a pair of reading glasses, waving them in front of her eyes.

She found herself standing in the middle of a jogging track in her tracks and jacket. Her headphones were dangling around her neck, and faint music was emanating from it. She looked at the man in front of her.

“Are these yours?” the man repeated his question. She shook her head. The man nodded and moved ahead. She looked at her wrist – 7.30 am, the watch said. She could feel the perspiration trickling down her back. It was mid April, and the morning was as usual a bright and cheerful one. But somehow she felt as if she had just returned from a winter.

Exasperated, she drew her hands to her forehead where she was greeted by the shock of ice cold fingers. She pulled them away in a quick movement and stared down at them. They were pale and hard as marble. 

But just the next second, the warmth returned to them. She could feel the blood rushing to her finger tips. A faint smile started to break on her lips. She looked around the park and filled her lungs with the warm summer air, and she started on her way back home.

PS: Please help me with suggestions and corrections to make it better.

Ten-Sen10s

“Happy Anniversary Darling!” his eyes filled themselves with her, as she stood under the shade of the giant oak on that sunny afternoon, in her favourite sky blue chiffon dress. Her dark brown was hair pulled back in a loose bun, and the breeze seemed to be merrily playing with those few wayward curls that were tickling her cheeks causing that slight smile and the faint blush that ensured that she looked perfect even without the make-up. Those rays of the sun that managed to cascade on her face through the chance gaps between the thick branches and leaves of the oak, turned her into a creature dropped straight from the heavens.

And he fell in love with this cherub once again.

But that wasn’t the story of just today. It has been the same story every single day since past 20 years. So what if the last 12 yrs were spent falling in love with this photograph of hers that now adorned his bedside table. 

The love was still afresh, just the way she was in the photograph. The same which was taken by him on their first anniversary.

She was gone. But she still remained, with him. 


PS: I know this is lacking something. I am not able to place my finger on exactly what it is. Anyways, this is a futile attempt to get back to my elements. 

The Call

“So, what’s happening?”

“I am down with a bad cold.”  replied a hoarse voice.

“Did you visit the doc?”

“Yep.”

A short answer again. What was with her, he wondered. She had been acting strange off late. One-word answers, short conversations, hanging up the call abruptly.

“Hey, talk to you later. My throat is aching badly.”

Consumed in her guilt, as she disconnected the call. She cringed her toes, her feet cold with the cold that had settled inside the house or in her heart, she knew not.

“Get well soon sweetheart” he spoke to the disconnected call.