This is another story

Anika was late. She got caught in the web of the web and got late. She had not planned to put on the dress she had put on. But while pulling out her choice of dress she chanced upon that soft, cotton heap of peach and out of sheer whim she pulled it out and wore it.
When she looked at the mirror she was delighted with what her reflection showed. She dropped the idea of putting on too much makeup and ended up just applying kajal.
Satisfied with the final look she picked up her phone to click a few selfies. She was loving the way she looked. It’s got to be the perfect date look, she thought to herself, he will be totally floored when he looks at her.

It had been years since she had actually made so much effort on her looks for any meeting. She was hoping that he likes it. She was doing it all in order to impress him. Right then her phone rang. It was him. She picked it with a panic.

“You already landed.”

She was supposed to be at the airport by that time. She quickly wrapped up the phone call, picked up her handbag and looked at the mirror for one last look. Something clicked inside her. She picked up the red tube kept on her dressing table and pulled out the brush. One stroke. Yes, now things were perfect.

The kumkum shimmered on her forehead. This time, she wanted the world to know that the guy who held her hand while they walked was the one to whom she belonged.

Step Two

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“970, 980, 990, 1000.”
He completed counting the books stacked in the corner and made note of the same in the notebook he held. Keeping the notebook beside the desk littered with old newspapers and plastic bottles, he sat in the broken moulded chair.
‘A thousand books’, he thought. ‘Is it enough? It should be.’
When the clock struck 1 pm, he stood and pulled the shutter down from inside. He carried the books to a room inside, in small sets. Once he had carried the last stack in, he flicked a switch on. The room was flooded by warm yellow light.
The room surrounded by steel racks. Racks in which numerous books were kept. Books of all kinds. From sleazy superflous pulp fiction to thick bound volumes of outdated laws and acts.
A week from the day, Badhua, who had never read a letter in his life, put up a board over his shop which said “Library For All”.

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 Final Nail

What a weird strange day! She was all happy when she woke up and the day went on smoothly until… Until she saw the pic. 

It was a beautiful pic. A pic where a father held his new born daughter, lovingly looking at her and the mother too looked with all contentment at the two people in her life. They were beautiful together. She saw the pic and slowly a tear trickled out of her eye. A painful smile spread across her face. 

Somehow she felt so less. A lot of her strength had gone into bringing herself to the point where she was. She was finally taking a shot at being happy. She was finally starting to feel that she was not worthless. But at that moment everything failed. The confidence, the courage that she had managed to built seemed to be crumbling. At that moment she wanted to jump off from some high rise building and put an end to the miserable thing that her life was. 

But then she looked at the the smile of the small baby. A new life. A beautiful new life. “And you are jealous of her?” a voice called out. 

“No, I am not jealous of her. How can I be? She is precious.”

“Then what is it? Aren’t you happy?”

“I am happy. I am very happy.”

“You are sad too. You cannot lie to me.”

Silence prevails…

Her eyes once again brim with tears.

“You are sad that he has really moved on? You expected him to be stuck with your thoughts still?”

“No. I just…”

“Or is it some lost hope of past? You wanted to be there right?”

“I had once…”

“It wasn’t for you, dear. Even you know that. You unnecessarily have jostled all this while with the subconscious guilt that you ruined his life. You haven’t ruined his life. Look at him. He is complete now. You paved way for his happiness.”

Tears roll out of her eyes, as she heaves a silent sigh.

“You always tell right, that not everyone is here to stay. Each has a part to play and they do that and then go away. Its the same with both of you too. You always knew you weren’t meant to be. The conviction that you have now, the vision, that strong connect. It was never there.”

“You have unnecessarily bogged yourself all this while for his unhappiness. But the truth is he is happy and the proof of it is alive, breathing and kicking. Look for yourself.”

“Don’t feel that you don’t have that what he has. You are destined for much better. You have your felicity. You have a better horizon to look forward to. A horizon that you can paint with your own colors. A horizon that will be yours and yours alone.”

“I know you are not sad. You are happy. Its bittersweet. It is ok for it to be so. But seriously, today put in the final nail into that coffin. You know that what you have gained is far far far better and more than what you have lost. So now go and live… and love.”

She slowly wipes the tears from her cheeks, pulls out her phone and takes a last look at the pic smiling at it. Then she deletes it, opens a different window and starts typing, “I Love You…”

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.

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.

Bunty and the Ants

He sat in the corner of his room, with his face towards the wall.

“No dinner for you today” his mom had blurted angrily earlier during the evening.

This was his punishment. He was supposed to sit facing the corner in his room. He never questioned his parents, always did what they told. But they still would not listen to him. He was, after all, just a nine year old kid. His parents, his elder brother, no one ever believed what he said. They called it his attention-seeking antics. Only he knew what truth his words beheld.

Bunty sat in the corner on a stool and kept looking at the line of ants that were crawling on the wall. The ants followed a set path. Few were going up and few down. They seemed to be on some mission. Bunty just kept staring at them. He noticed a very peculiar behavior among them. Whenever an ant appeared on the way of another ant, they stopped, struck their heads together and then moved on.

“What are they doing?” said Bunty. There was no one in the room. He knew that. He spoke to no one in particular. He was speaking to himself.

“I think they are speaking something.” said Bunty in a curious tone.

He got down from the stool, crouched nearer to the corner of the wall and thrust his ears closer to the ants, as if trying to listen to them. He stood like that crouching for full 20 seconds. When his knees started hurting, he straightened himself and moved a step backwards.

“What are they speaking?”

He kept staring at the ants, trying to figure out what exactly they were up to.

“What are you talking to each other?” said Bunty addressing those ants.

“Why do you care?” said a tiny but shrill voice. He would have not caught the voice, if he would not have been staring towards the direction of those ants. He was astounded. His eyes went wide with amazement.

“You can speak?” asked Bunty.

“Yes we can.”

“Wow! I should tell Vicky about this.”

He had just uttered these words, when he found himself frozen to the place where he stood. He tried to move but lost his balance and fell down. His hands were stuck to his sides. He lied on the floor stupefied in attention position. He was scared. He opened his mouth to scream, but only muted gasps of air came out.

 “Mummmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” his voice echoed back in his head.

“Don’t be scared” said an ant climbing his nose bridge.

“Mummmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” he screamed again, and yet again, his voice instead of coming out of his mouth echoed back in his head.

“See, no one can hear you, so it’s better if you stop screaming.”

“But, you can hear me” mouthed Bunty and once again his own voice echoed in his head and only air came out of his mouth.

“Yes, only we can hear you” said the ant. Bunty saw that the ant on his nose was now standing only on his rear two limbs and it had grown in size.

Bunty tried to shake the ant off himself. He started shaking his head frantically thinking that by doing so the ant would slip off his face. When he stopped shaking his head, to his dismay, Bunty found the ant standing firmly on the same position where it stood before.

“You cannot shake me off. But since you tried, let me not take any more chances.”

Saying so, the ant flicked its free limb towards the other ants that stood watching the show. On his signal the ants scurried in various corners. What Bunty saw next was something that made his heart jump out of his chest. The ants were back within seconds, but this time they were marching forward in army like fashion, and each ant bore a red bead on their backs.
Bunty looked carefully at these beads. They seemed vaguely familiar to him.

“Remember these?” said the leader of the ant that stood on his nose, pointing towards the beads.

“I have seen these beads somewhere” echoed Bunty’s voice in his head.

“Ha ha ha, they belong to the same beaded garland that you broke a week back.”

Bunty saw that another group of ants had now approached with something that looked like a coil of string. Within moments the ants carrying the beads and the ones carrying the string got busied in amongst themselves.

“Didn’t your mother enquire you about her bead-string?”

“Yes she did? But then I had broken it and all the beads were lost and so I had lied to her that I didn’t know where her bead-string was.”

“Why did you break her bead-string?”

“I was annoyed with her. She never believes whatever I tell her. She thinks that I am bluffing. None of my parents believe me. At times they even laugh at me but mostly they scold me and punish me. They think that whatever I tell them is all non-sense.”

“Ah! So you wanted to revenge her” said the leader-ant smirking in a vile way.

He tried to shake again. But it was to no avail. He was in tears.

“No point in crying my boy, this is all your doing. You should not have lied to her.”

“But I never lie.” Exasperation dripped from Bunty’s scared eyes. “I always tell them the truth. They never believe me. That is not my fault.”

“Your truth is not truth for them, dear boy. Things that you see, that you hear are not truth for them. They can neither see nor hear what you can. But you have not realized it yet. You should have realized it, boy, you should have” said the leader-ant drooping its head and nodding it dejectedly.

At that moment, Bunty felt something creeping across his legs. He was now all the more scared.

“What is happening to me?” echoed a frantic voice in Bunty’s head, horror written all over his face.

He saw that the other ants had climbed his body. They had sewn the beads in to the string and were now carrying it with them across his body. In no time his hand, his legs and his entire body waist-down was tied with that string with the red beads glistening.

“Why have you tied me?”

“There are certain things that you should know, and we need your attention for that. But since you were not complying with our need, we had to do this.”

“What is it that I should know?” out came a cry.

The leader-ant climbed down from his nose to his left cheek. He walked towards his eye. The string with which Bunty was tied started tightening around him. The string was stronger than what Bunty had thought it to be, sharp too. It was literally cutting into his skin. Bunty winced.

“See, I am ready to listen to everything that you say, but please loosen these strings first. I’m getting hurt.”

The string kept tightening.

Bunty was now in tears. The leader-ant just stood and watched him wince.

“You should know that, what you see is not illusion. They are not your hallucinations” continued the leader-ant in an ominous tone. “But you should not tell about this to anyone. Even if you do, they would not believe you.”

While the leader-ant continued, Bunty felt something move beside his tied hand. Something moved inside the pocket of the shorts that he wore. Bunty remembered that earlier during the day his brother had mocked at him. In a fit to take revenge, Bunty had sneaked his brother’s dear swiss knife and had kept it in his pocket. It was the same knife that now lay in his palms. 

Bunty was completely confused at the things that were happening around him. The knife seemed to have moved by itself and fell into his palms, its blade was already out.

Bunty tried to compose himself. He had to stop his thoughts. He knew that the leader-ant could hear his thoughts. In order to distract the leader-ant, Bunty started crying. The leader-ant seemed to be enjoying his plight. In the meantime Bunty held the knife and started to cut the string near his hand.

“Bunty, what are you doing on the floor?”

Bunty looked at the entrance of his room and saw his mom standing there. He was flooded with relief.

“BUNTY!” screamed his mom.

He rolled over on the floor and brought himself to a sitting position.

“Mom!”

“What is happening Bunty?”

“Mom – the ants” said Bunty pointing towards the corner of the wall.

“Bunty! What is this?”

His mom was not looking where he had pointed her to see, but anger raged in her eyes. Bunty was confused.

“Bunty! A week back when I had asked you about my bead-string you had denied knowing anything about it. What are you doing with it now?”

Bunty looked down and saw the bead-string wrapped around his wrist.

“No mom, I didn’t know anything about it” lied Bunty.

He remembered that he had broken the bead-string. Moments back those beads had him tied, boring his skin, and now suddenly there was the bead string wrapped around his wrist, just the way they were before he had broken them. Bunty didn’t know what to say.

“Enough of lying Bunty!I am fed up of you. I have to talk to your dad. Enough of all this non-sense. We are sending you to boarding school” said his mom, taking off her bead-string from his wrist. Bunty opened his mouth to explain her but by that time she had already stomped out of his room, fuming in rage.


Bunty stood there cluelessly, knowing not what to say. The swiss knife still lying in his pocket.