The Stowaway

Written for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less based on the photo prompt provided this week by Georgia Koch. Thank you Rochelle and Georgia.

For other stories on this prompt click here

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Photo Prompt – Copyright Georgia Koch

The Stowaway

Words 102

“Accept it darling,” he said, “my time’s up.”

“What about me?” she held his hand in a death grip.

He smiled. “Your boat is yet to dock. I’ll just go on ahead and arrange things…”

“No!” she flared up. “I don’t like your ‘arrangements’. Remember how you messed up the kitchen?”

“But you loved redoing it.”

A tear rolled down her cheek.

“I thought you believed in destiny? That we are married for seven lives?”*

“I need to buy medicines.” She dashed across the busy street.

Impatient (and skeptical), she thought it prudent to give fate a helping hand.

*According to Hinduism, marriage between a couple is not limited to this life only, it extends to seven or more lives.

The Wrestlers

Out in the field, beyond the shade:

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A ringside view of the wrestling match:

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And the winner is:

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For Becca’s Sunday Trees – 250

SPF: A Fatherly Lesson

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A Fatherly Lesson

Words 195

“You don’t want to go to school?” Hariya shook Ramu, his 8-year-old son. “You want to play in the jungle all day?”

Ramu nodded.

Enraged, Hariya dragged him into the jungle. “Then stay with the animals and ghosts of the jungle.” Hariya walked away.

Ramu explored the jungle to his heart’s content but it wasn’t much fun without his friends. Plus he was hungry. He decided to return home, but to his despair, he couldn’t find his way out. “Amma! Babuji!” Ramu screamed loud and long but no one came.

Darkness fell abruptly and closed in on him. Fear gripped him. He ran to the lone lamp and looked around in dread at the shadows hovering over him. He clung to the lamppost and held on for dear life. Then the unthinkable happened. The bulb flickered and died. Darkness engulfed him, threatening, choking, strangling, “Amma! Babuji! Where are you? Please take me home. I promise I will always go to school.” The wind howled and the trees swayed. Leaves blew into his face. Terrified, Ramu bolted but something held him back.

He opened his mouth in a soundless scream and collapsed in a dead faint.

***

 Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less.

Note: Unfortunately, the above narrative is not completely imaginary. Recently there were reports of a 7-year-old boy being abandoned near a bear infested jungle by his father as a punishment for misbehavior. Fortunately, the police rescued him after a week of intense search. But another 12-year-old boy wasn’t as lucky as his father stabbed him to death for not studying for a school exam.

 

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 79 along with Hobbes having  fun at Calvin's expense :D

 

CFFC: Partners for Life

The other day I spotted a pair of geese:

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Excited, I moved in for a closer shot:

But no matter how much I tried, the goose just wouldn’t let me click his mate. It honked and glared and pretended to be interested in the distal most piece juicy stem.

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Can you beat that?

The typical Indian male I supposed and walked away (or at least pretended to but the goose wasn’t that much of a goose – it wasn’t buying or budging).

Until I really walked away. That’s when I noticed:

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She was injured or ill and he was merely trying to keep away an opportunistic predator.

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Blessed to witness such a rare and precious sight.

For the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Rare and (if Cee has no objections), for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feathers

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 78 along with Calvin and Hobbes

 

Begin Again

 

Hello friends,

Please accept my apologies for being absent without intimation. That life will end for all those who are born is inescapable; yet when life takes one of its expected stoppages, it is nevertheless inexplicably unexpected and heartbreaking.

Whole or not, ready or not, it is time to pick up the pieces and begin again. I hope to start posting regularly once again from the 24th of August. Do mark the date on your calendar and make sure to join in for I need your company more than ever before.

Thank you for being there and not giving up on me.

Wishing all brothers and sisters a very Happy Rakshabandhan. Do watch this heartwarming advertisement that sensitively captures the essence of Rakhi. A warning though – the video is in Hindi and subtitles (auto-generated) in French.

Macro Moments Week 5

The perfect rose and the perfect bud.

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Copyright Mother Nature

This is in response to Susan’s Macro Moments Challenge 5 and the theme is Macro Plants and Flowers.

 

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 77 along with Calvin and Hobbes

 

APWC: Out in the Country

Last week I had the opportunity to travel through the countryside (twice!) and I bring selected glimpses – mostly from inside the car.

Paddy fields!

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Field

This little fellow chugging on the highway shuttling between villages

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Bumper to bumper with the fresh farm produce (bitter gourd) truck

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Stopping to give this one the right of way

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Oh look who got a joy ride into the city😉

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Country roads take me home to the place where I belong….

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Our Welcome CommitteeMonkey4.jpg

And on this side too – looking positively disapproving don’t you think?Monkey1.jpg

This post is in response to Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge and the theme is Out in the Country. Hope you liked😀

For the readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 76 and Calvin Hahaha

 

How Blue is My Sapphire

The eighth and the final short story submitted to the TOI Write India competition. For the other submitted stories – Click here

Prompt:

All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am….. ” Anita Nair ( (For more about the contest/rules click here).

Rules by the Author

1) Name of the Story: How Blue is my Sapphire
2) Must be literary fiction that leaps off the page. Literary fiction is best defined as “works that offer deliberate social commentary or political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.”
3) The story shouldn’t have more than four characters and an animal
4) The story should play out in 24 hours.

 

How Blue is my Sapphire

I pushed open the door of the terrace and looked at the vast expanse of sky and treetops. The view made the climb worth it. Maybe that was why Neelima had chosen the barsaati over the cramped paying guest accommodation. She could have commuted from home, but she preferred to be near the hospital. I didn’t object – she was big girl now. Besides, I am not the clingy, insecure, possessive kind of mother. I believe in letting children fly the nest, and sooner the better.

“Mom! What are you doing here? And what’s with the bird?”

“Meet Zack, my new pet. Isn’t he cute?” I put my arms around her. She leaned in for about a millisecond before withdrawing.

“I wonder that you have time to take care of a pet.” Neelima said. “What about your numerous commitments?”

Unable to resist, I shot back. “Oh he doesn’t ask for much. Unlike some other people I know.” I should have bitten my tongue for this was exactly what Neelima liked to sink her claws into.

“Is that why you dumped me at Nana-Nani’s whilst you traveled the world?”

I gritted my teeth and said in an even tone, “For the nth time, it was no joy ride. It was part of my art course and I only went to Paris.”

“For two years. And after that also you never bothered to come and…”

I sighed. “I told you I had commitments. Besides, nobody had any objections. I asked your grandparents, your father…”

“Did you ask me?”

It was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here. What did I expect from Neelima? That she would understand? When had she ever? I still recall her teen years with a shudder – shrill, harsh, demanding and exhausting. Not much has changed since.

Ratan, my other child, was so sorted and cool. We had our moments of course but they were like a summer shower – a little wetness, a bit of a steam but oh so refreshing. Plus Ratan never bore grudges. Neelima, on the other hand, nurtured her grudges like tender saplings, watering and feeding them on a regular basis. Martyr-like, she wore her woes as if they were badges of honor. All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am. I carry no guilt or baggage of the past. And I often wished that Neelima too would just move on.

“Oh God! The way you hang to the past. Give me a break would you? I was 18 years of age and if it wasn’t for your grandparents I wouldn’t have got married in the first place…”

“So you punished them by dumping me on them. What was my fault?”

I flinched under her accusing glare but I refused to feel guilty. “I did what I thought was best under the circumstances.” I reached out and pinched her cheeks. “In any case I doubt you would have liked staying with me. My maternal instincts are nonexistent at best.” I offered her a smile.

She jerked away. “They sure kicked in when Ratty was born.”

“Don’t call him that.”

“Why not? Did you stop him from calling me Ninima?”

“Ninima’s cute! Ratty is so horrible.”

She turned on her heels.

I put the cage on a broken down table. I could have kicked myself. If only I hadn’t made that wisecrack. But then she would have found something else. We had been over this topic in various avatars and I had failed to appease her. And I couldn’t change the past could I?

Neelima came back and poured Zack some water. She held out her hand. “What do you think Zack would like – some nuts or a tomato?”

I shrugged. “Let him decide.”

She opened the cage door and put down the food. She caressed him with a gentle hand. Her face was soft and tender.

And that hurt more than I cared to admit.

“A feast for Zack and nothing for your mother?”

“Mother can ask or help herself.”

I wondered if a slap would have hurt as much. I walked to the edge of the roof to hide my emotions.

“You should have had an abortion.” She stood beside me sullen and stiff.

For a moment I dearly wished I had. But then I realized that she was offering an apology in her own way.

“What!” I turned to face her. I gestured between her and me. “And forgo all this?”

Neelima looks beautiful when she smiles. Triumphant and relieved, I smiled back.

Ice broken, she held me by the arm and led me inside – rather like a cat dragging her kitty. “Why did come Mom? And why didn’t you call before coming?”

“Because you never pick up my call.” I looked around. “So messy and dusty.” Instinctively, I straightened the pillow and folded a rumpled sheet. I hunted for a duster.

“Yes, ever since you called at the clinic,” she said, “to discuss about your maid stealing vegetables…”

“But that was an emergency!” I protested. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“And you thought I would know?”

“Well,” she had me there, “you always were a smart kid, school topper, a doctor to boot…

Neelima held out a glass of lassi. “Are you patronizing me Mom?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Just seemed like that.” She shrugged. “Besides, I know you don’t approve of me.”

“Nonsense.” I took a tentative sip of the lassi. I smiled. “Just the way I like it.”

“It’s always about you isn’t it?” Her tone was conversational.

I stared. “What do you mean?”

“Just the way I like it.” She mocked me.

“Yeah so?” I was all at sea. “I was praising you. Didn’t you say just now that I didn’t approve of you? So.” I raised my glass and took a sip.

“And that is all you can find to approve of? Nothing else? And in any case, if you wanted to convey your ‘approval’ you could have said you made it well. But no, the way you like it is more important and special. Because you are special and all of us are useless hangers on determined to pull you down.” Neelima’s pitch rose and her lips twisted in a sneer.

Hands shaking I put down the glass. “What on earth is this about?”

Eyes glittering, she stood with her fists clenched. “As if you don’t know.”

“I don’t.” I said in my most patient voice.

“Your acclaimed painting Freedom where you show yourself trapped in a house while the rest of us are having fun outside. Even there you are bigger than all of us put…”

I was taken aback. “You saw my exhibition? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters. And interesting that you should interpret it that way – I only meant to depict that once the family is out and having fun, she is free to do her own thing.”

She wore a disbelieving expression but she didn’t argue further.

“Did you even like any of the paintings?”

“All of them were nice. Especially the one of the sea.” She hunted about the fridge. “There’s only bread.”

“I make very good bread upma.” I offered, pleased with her compliment and interest in my art.

Neelima threw her hands up. “See? Again it’s all about you. While I can do nothing right. You are the best in everything. You keep the best house. You make the best…” She choked.

Shocked, I could only gape at her bewildered. “Sometimes I just don’t understand you.”

Sometimes?!” Her voice was bitter. “When have you? Oh forget it. Why did you come here?”

I stilled. Perhaps I should have talked to Ratan first, got him on my side. Neelima would of course take her father’s side.

“Call Ratan over for dinner tonight. We can talk then.”

“Why tonight?” Neelima was instantly up in arms. “Tell me now.”

“No. I can’t do this twice over.”

“Twice over?” She loomed over me. “Are you well? Any health…”

I looked up. Her eyes reflected the panic in her voice. “Relax. I am fine. Call Ratan will you?”

“You call him. He is your darling.”

“Why do you hate Ratan so much?”

“I don’t hate him. You hate me.”

“Me? Hate you? Why on earth would you think that?”

“You let him go on the rafting expedition but you didn’t let me go.”

“I didn’t let him go! I said no to him as well. You listened. He didn’t. What could I do?”

“You could have said yes to me.”

“But I didn’t say yes to him.”

She flounced off.

Despair stole over me. Why were we always at loggerheads? Why couldn’t we just talk like two responsible adults? What was it about our relationship that had embittered her so much that she misconstrued anything and everything I said? I was trying hard to make up for my earlier follies but she needed to meet me halfway.

Neelima reappeared carrying her purse. “I called Rats. He will be late and he wants you to cook Biryani.”

Delighted, I laughed. “I knew it!”

Neelima looked at me with a sour expression. “I doubt if you even know what I like to eat.”

“That’s not fair!”

“Who said life was fair?” She turned to leave. “I have texted you a number. You can order whatever groceries you need. I am going to the hospital.”

“Wait! At least tell me what you would like to eat?”

“Upma.” The door banged shut.

I winced. My fault. I had forgotten she hated upma. But why couldn’t she be as straightforward as Ratan? So much easier to understand and deal with.

When Neelima returned it was past 9 pm. She headed straight for the kitchen. “What did you make?” She lifted the covers.

I waited, smiling.

She turned. “Avial!”

I couldn’t help but laugh at her delight. She heaped her plate and dug in. I put my arm around her. “Darling if you want or expect something from me – ask! I am quite dumb that way.”

“But you are my mother,” she objected, “you should know.”

I warred between tears and laughter. What to do with this crazy, sensitive, prickly uppity daughter of mine?

Ratan came in a little later. He greeted me with a broad smile and a bear hug. “Hi Ma! Where’s my biryani?” He grabbed a plate.

“Wash your hands!”

But he had already begun. “You make the best biryani in the whole world.” He spoke with his mouth full. “What’s that? Avial? Yech!”

Neelima glowered at him.

“Why the bird Ma? I mean you and a caged bird don’t really go together.”

Ratan understood me. I smiled. “Zack is a gift. He has been caged for so long that he has probably forgotten how to fly.”

“You could try.” Neelima said.

After dinner, Ratan lay down on the folding cot. “Ma can we talk in the morning? I am sleepy.” He grinned endearingly.

“No. Let’s talk now.” Neelima held out a pillow and sheets.

Ratan grabbed the things and turned over. “Goodnight all.”

Neelima looked at me as if it was my fault. “How come he always gets his way?”

I shrugged. “Perhaps it’s because men don’t hanker for others approval the way we women do.” It was a moment of epiphany for me. After all, wasn’t that why I was here?

Next morning, Neelima had her revenge.

“Get up Ratty.”

“Go away.” Ratan mumbled. “It’s not even morning.”

“No way Rats. Get up now.” Neelima pulled at the sheet. “Any later and you will say I am late for college.” She held out a cup of tea.

“No worries, Ninima,” he peeked out, “I am bunking college today.” He grinned and went back under.

“You can bunk. I can’t.” Neelima was firm. “So let’s just have this talk shall we? Mom?” She looked at me questioningly.

I put down the cup. I suddenly wished I hadn’t come. I should have just sent an email.

“Mom?”

Even Ratan sat up.

“I am separating from your father.” I played with my fingers.

Neelima put a hand on Ratan’s shoulder. “Is there anyone else?”

“I am moving in with Stu.”

“Stu?” Ratan threw off his covers and stood up.

“Stuart, the artist from Paris?”

I nodded, feeling dull and heavy. Ratan looked shell-shocked but Neelima was cool and composed – the lull before the storm.

Ratan looked at me pleadingly. “What about Dad? And what will people think?”

“Your father has agreed to a divorce. People don’t matter. You do.”

“Why now Ma?” Ratan asked. “After so many years?”

“I am 45 years old and I am tired of ‘adjusting’. I feel as if I have been leading two lives – doing justice to neither. No matter what I do, I always feel guilty about neglecting the other. I want to be free. I want to just draw and paint the whole day or night if I so wish.”

Ratan began collecting his things.

“What happened?”

He shook his head. “Nothing.” He picked up his bag. “I just remembered. I have an important class this morning. Got to go Ma.” He thrust his feet into his shoes and picked up his mobile. “Bye Nini, bye Ma.” A final wave and he was gone.

Now, even my son would hate me. Tears choked me.

“Do you love him?”

I gaped. “Of course! Otherwise why would…”

“Does Stuart love you too?” Neelima was cool, clinical.

“Ever since the first time I went to Paris.” I cleared my throat. “Initially I didn’t. Or perhaps I was scared to acknowledge my feelings. Besides I had responsibilities.”

“What if it doesn’t work out?”

I spread my hands. “At least I would have tried. All my life I have wondered fantasized. Now, finally, I will know. That is if,” my eyes strayed to the empty doorway.

“You haven’t decided?”

“How can I decide? It all depends on you both.” Poor Ratan. I had upset him. Was my happiness more important than his? I broke out in a cold sweat. I put a hand to my throat. I felt as if I was suffocating, drowning…

“Did Stuart gift you Zack?” Neelima was stroking Zack.

Confused, I said, “Yes.”

“Maybe you should fly before you forget how to fly.”

Unable to believe my ears I gawked at her. “But what about Ratan?” My voice was hoarse.

“Don’t worry about Rats. I know how to manage him. Maybe I will shift back home. Be with Dad.”

Emotions assaulted me. Uppermost was guilt. “I don’t know what to say…”

“Then don’t say. Just…Just fly.” She gave me a tight hug before withdrawing. “I hope you are on the pill?

I began laughing but ended up crying. My daughter held me and rocked me like I never had.

***

Thank you for reading. I really would love to know what you think, brickbats included…

OBFC #28: Atypical Art

This is in response to Cee’s Oddball Challenge Week 28

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Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms made with bones (don’t miss the stack of bones in the background)

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Chandelier made of bones and skulls. Sorry it’s a bit out focus – hands shaking I guess😉

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The Sedlec Ossuary, is one of the 12 World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic. It is located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec near Kutna Hora. The cemetery was a very popular burial site. The ossuary is believed to contain the skeleton of between 40,000 and 70,000 people. Apparently the task of exhuming skeletons and stacking their bones in the chapel was given to a half-blind monk who arranged the bones to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.

It’s a fascinating place to visit, to think, how the monk managed to create such works of art when he could barely see with things a person would run miles from.

“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” ― Clive Barker

Six Word Saturday # 390

Hello and hope you are having a grand weekend. I found another interesting challenge – Six word Saturday (6WS). Given my penchant for rambling, I thought this would be good discipline. So here goes – do let me know what you think. You are welcome to use to more than 6 words😉

I do.

But we did not.

 

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Thanks for visiting.

Photo a Week : Hands

This is for Nancy’s Photo a week Challenge and the theme this week is – you guessed it Hands😀. And I think I am late but what the heck – onward ho!

Hands feed the sweetest bite or capture the moment.

As you know, hands can be a thing of beauty – especially when cared for

Henna also adds to their beauty don’t you think?

Did you know hand gestures (mudras) can be used to tell a story?

And finally a glimpse of hands that created a new World Record.

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Thanks for visiting and thanks to my friends and family for allowing me to use their hands with or without permission😉

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.” ― Vera Nazarian

Have a great weekend!

Story Club #2: Surviving the Elements

Hello! How’s the week been? Looking forward to the weekend I guess. Some armchair time, traveling the world through blogs and stories, one hopes.

Well anyway, it’s time for the Story Club. If you remember, Story Club #1 began on the 15th of June. I wanted it to be a weekly affair but a lukewarm response forced me to make it a monthly event – for now😉

YP of In the zone has kindly offered to host this month’s Story Club. She has chosen Stephen Crane’s short story ‘The Open Boat’. I would advise you to read the story before rushing off to read YP’s review – she’s has a neat hand and a cool worldview. She is also participating in the summer A to Z challenge and it is interesting how she has woven the Story Club into it!

From my side, just a short background on the author and the story – as gleaned from the web. The story published in 1897, is based on Crane’s experience of surviving a shipwreck. Crane was stranded at sea for thirty hours. His account titled “Stephen Crane’s Own Story” was first published a few days after his rescue. But this focused primarily on the sinking of the Commodore, and the ensuing chaos. Crane subsequently adapted and rewrote his experience as a short story The Open Boat. This was later published as part of the book The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure in the US. The open boat is the most feted of all of Crane’s work. Indeed the stark reality and helplessness of the situation is vivid and hard hitting. Unfortunately, Crane contracted tuberculosis and died when he was just 28 years old. Tragically, his premature death brought him greater recognition, fame and acclaim.

Thanks for reading and now let’s move to the real review – don’t forget to leave your comments and suggestions.

If anyone is interested or motivated enough to join the Story Club – most welcome! Just create a pingback to this post so that we can hop over for a read.

Rules are simple:

  • Advance announcement of name of short story, which is freely available on the net.
  • Story maybe a folktale or in the local language. But an English translation should be freely available on the net. Or participant could post the translated version along with his or her review.
  • Bloggers should post on their blog while non-bloggers can email me – mysilverstreaks@gmail.com
  • The basic idea is to gain from each others rich heritage of literature and be able to understand a little bit more than before.
  • And of course have fun!

     

    Suggestions are welcome.

Come on let’s go – Click here!

Off the Beaten Track

Written for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle – a story in 100 words or less. Click here for other stories on this prompt. Thanks to Sandra for the photo🙂

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Off the Beaten Track

Words 95

“Mom!” Ravi protested, “Why did you take this road?”

“Didn’t you see the massive traffic jam on the main road?”

“Mom, main roads are always a safer bet. Here, on this track, who knows when it will clear or even whether we will reach our destination?”

“Patience Ravi, patience.” She was unperturbed. “Look, the sheep are all going the other way. In just a while, we will own the road.”

“So tell me Mom,” Ravi turned to her, “what were your objections to leaving my job in the US and taking up farming in Kerala?

***

Look forward to hearing from you🙂

Reminder: Today’s the 15th of July and time for Story Club # 2. Do read Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat and drop in for a review by YP of In the Zone later in the day. Anyone interested in posting a review of their own – most welcome! Please create a pingback to the post Story Club #2 – coming soon at a blog near you😀

Click here for Story Club #1

For the readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 75 and Calvin - he never gives up trying does he?

Macro Moment Week 4

The rainy season is here and like last year, I had another visitation.

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Not very macro right?

Taking care to check that the window was securely bolted, I leaned in for a closer shot.

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Now that’s a Macro hand!

This is in response to Susan’s Macro Moments Week 4 challenge

Thanks for visiting😀

CFFC: Signs of the Times

As usual, Cee has an interesting Fun Foto Challenge lined up for us – Signs. I have quite an obsession for signs. Let’s begin shall we?

I have to confess the first two sets are forwards but they were too good to pass up😀

 

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Outside a zoo somewhere in India. I refuse to divulge where, who knows what it will attract..
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At Lucerne, Switzerland. Perhaps a single line would not have conveyed the same message?
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For some reason I found WALK terribly funny
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Well, at least one can boast about a golden cage😀

 

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Oops, I seem to have nicked off the topmost part – translation anyone?

And the award goes to

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Off to hunt for my pot of gold😀

Have a great day and thanks for visiting. Do leave me a note or two and if you like, you could check out my other photos

SPF: Exposed

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Click here for other stories on this prompt.

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SPF: Exposed

Words 198

“Reeta!” Sheila burst inside her house, “did you hear the news?”

“What news?” Reeta asked her easily excitable neighbor.

“Don’t you ever watch TV?”

“Not if I can help it.” Reeta said drily. Besides, who needs a TV when you are here?

“Didn’t you hear the TV vans whooshing past – or the ambulance? I checked the news and sure enough, it’s all over the TV!” Sheila’s eyes glittered with pleasurable glee and something else. “Look at you, sitting here cool as cucumber.”

Reeta made a wry face and got to her feet. “My apologies. Would you like a cup of tea?” She began walking to the kitchen.

Sheila grabbed Reeta by the arm and burst out, “The well-known socialite Mrs Sisodia committed suicide.”

Reeta froze. She paled and her eyes widened.

Sheila watched these developments with ghoulish delight. “Oh! Now I remember, she and your husband were very good friends weren’t they?” Sheila looked around. “Where is he? Does he know? Call him up and let him know.” She urged.

The doorbell rang. It was the police.

Reeta mentally cursed the inconsiderate Mrs Sisodia.

She could brush an affair under the carpet but not a dead woman.

***

Do let me know what you think…

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 74 and Hobbes up to no good :D

And please do check out my latest photo challenge – Look up or here for a laugh (or a shock depending on your view) or… never mind, I arranged all my picture posts at one place for easy access – Clicks and Pics.

Have a super day and look forward to hearing from you🙂

Look Up

This is in response to Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge – Look Up. Obedient to the core, I looked up.

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Last week was a difficult time. Looking up, it struck me that the long and short of it was that all of us are trapped in a spin of our own until Someone switches us off. Claustrophobic and not in the best frame of mind, I walked out in search of succor and inspiration.

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Trees are such a comfort – and who can resist an endless blue sky dotted with cotton clouds? Horizons expanding, I walked to the other side of the house for a change in perspective.

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Heart full, a crick in the neck, I couldn’t help looking down.

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Quite a refreshing sight wouldn’t you say?

A bit easier than before, I went back in and read YP’s post – “Dragging through is ok – we will NOT always be able to Dash through issues….”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu

And of course – Que sera sera

Thanks for visiting and have a super week ahead🙂

Big Banyan Tree

It’s time for Sunday Trees -243

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The Great Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) at Botanic Garden, Howrah, near Kolkata, India

Believe it or not, that is not a forest but a single tree. One that is more than 250 years old. The area occupied by the tree is about 18,918 square meters (about 1.5 hectares or 4 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of 486 m. and the highest branch rises to 24.5 m. Interestingly, the tree survives without its main trunk, which decayed and had to be removed in 1925.

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View from inside/under the tree

Instead, it has a large number of aerial roots, which grow from the branches and run vertically to the ground and looks like it has so many trunks. It is estimated that at present it has 3772 aerial roots reaching down to the ground as a prop root. Fascinating isn’t it?

Thanks for visiting and to kick start your Monday, have a look here 😀

OBFC #27: Whoops

Here’s this week’s submission for Cee’s oddball foto challenge # 27. This is taken from the balcony of a 6th floor apartment in Mumbai.

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Notice anything odd?
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Having a closer look at the street? Perhaps hoping for a ride?

I couldn’t help wondering if her friend threw her or she jumped fell.😉 Good pic for a flash fiction eh? Anyone game?

Sons and Daughters

Written for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle for the picture prompt below – a story in 100 words or less. For amazing stories on this prompt click here. Thanks to Jan Marler Morrill for the photo.

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(c) Jan Marler Morrill

 

Sons and daughters

Words 99

“This alley is so tiny.” Sheena laughed. “I remember it as a long dark highway!”

“Useful for sneaking back inside.” Her brother winked.

“And learning the facts of life,” Sheena said.

“Meaning?”

“When I was about 12, I overheard Dad telling Mom – if it is again a girl, I will get another wife.”

Sheena shook him by the arm. “Make your peace with Dad. He loves you!”

“Yeah right. After my bike accident, I overheard him – Thanks to God for saving my son. I cannot afford to lose him. It’s not like I have two or three sons.”

***

Thanks for reading. If you have time and the inclination, do check out the Macro Moment photo challenge and one-liner Wednesday post. Though I should warn you, it isn’t exactly one line blushing

Have a great weekend. Oh I almost forgot! For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 73 and Calvin on a water conservation spree😀

If you are a first time visitor, welcome aboard🙂 Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Dont forget to leave me a note.

One-liner Wednesday

Yeah well today’s Thursday but somewhere it’s Wednesday!😀 Linda runs this really cool challenge One-liner Wednesdays and this week the prompt is ‘Opposite of Feverish.’ This is my first time and not very sure how to deal with it one line – but why worry when the internet is at your service😉

I found this really ‘cool’ quote cool

If you’re hotter than me, then that means I’m cooler than you.Anonymous

 

Don’t you think it fits very well with the prompt?

P.S. It just struck me – my own line is pretty neat for the prompt as well! laughing Dont get it? okay fine I will ‘spell’ it out again – I meant this line:-

Linda runs this really cool challenge One-liner Wednesdays and this week the prompt is ‘Opposite of Feverish.’ rolling on the floorrolling on the floorrolling on the floor

Oops, hope that got none of you ‘hot and bothered’ – okay fine!

I’m going to stand outside, so if anybody asks for me, I’m outstanding. – Anonymous

 

FFftPP # 27: Shooed Out

shoes

Shooed Out

Bhanushree let herself into the flat. Ankit was gone – after the morning altercation it was to be expected.

The house, the cupboards were bare of his belongings. Sudden tears choked her – the sight of her single toothbrush too much to bear. His razor – she stiffened and annoyance flooded her. Lazy bum, couldn’t even throw it in the trash. And what a mess she fumed.

Bhanushree set about scrubbing the flat to her fastidious liking. Mom was right. Live in doesn’t work. But better than being stuck in a marriage with an irresponsible brat -leaving the balcony door open.

Bhanushree froze. His sneakers lay there.

“There! Happy? You made me wash your dirty sneakers.”

“I didn’t ask you to wash them.”

“I told you to wash them. But…”

“They looked fine to me.”

“I can’t stand to see you wear such filthy sneakers.”

“Well that’s your problem isn’t it?”

“I’ll tell you what my problem is – You! Get out of my house!”

A tear slipped down her cheek. I tell him to do a thousand things – does he ever listen?  No.

 Yet today…

 

Words: 182. Written for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner (200 words or less). For other stories, click here

So how did you like the story? Too short? Do you think you would be interested in a sequel? Let me know and dont forget to check out my photos on bridges

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 72 and of course Calvin😀

FFfAW # 71: The Reunion

This is written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  (100- 175 words). Thank you Joy for hosting the challenge and thank you Louise for the photo. For other stories on this prompt please click here

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The Reunion

Words 165

“Hi Alisha.”

“Hi Bijooka.” She laughed.

“Come on!” He spread his arms. “From which angle do I look like a scarecrow?”

“Sorry. That slipped out.” Alisha apologized. “We were really mean to you.”

“It doesn’t matter.” He said. “Not now.”

“It must have hurt then?”

“Yes.” He swallowed. “Some. I often fought with Ma for more food. But there never was enough…”

“I am sorry.”

“How come you’re all alone?”

Alisha turned away. “Very hot outside.”

“Or is the reunion no fun?”

Alisha sighed. “Yeah. It was a bad idea.”

“Where’s Rohit?”

“School sweethearts should never get married.”

“What happened?”

Alisha shrugged. “The usual. I thought I was the Princess. Rohit thought he was the Prince. In the battle for supremacy we both lost our kingdom.”

“I can’t say I am sorry. I always thought you deserved better.”

Alisha stared.

He grinned sheepishly. “I had a massive crush on you.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

He looked down and scuffed his shoe. “I am now.”

  ***

Hello and a happy Monday to you all😉 Those of you who didn’t log in after Friday, do check out my photo posts – here,and here (and just in case you missed the Clouds Galore here too)😀

Trees at Home

This is my response the the challenge Sunday Trees – 242. I am fascinated by trees and am quite infamous for just photographing trees while on vacations! But I am diversifying😉 Anyway I do have lots of photos of trees and always looking for a reason to share🙂

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This particular photo is taken just above the gate at my parents’ place – that’s the eucalyptus at the center (I think!). One of my favorite pictures, perhaps because it reminds me of home.  What do you think?

Have a great Sunday🙂

Colored B/W Pics

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge topic for this week is Opposites. And I couldn’t resist posting these photos which are colored but turned out to be black and white! Have a look🙂

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Hovering over an overcast Mumbai
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Can’t make out where the sky ends and the sea begins. The dark bits are the green cover, I think
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Torrential rains greet us – yellow the only color
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But for the red and white it could be a pure black and white pic – dont you think?
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Here it is the strips of red, blue, white and yellow to dispel the illusion of a B/W pic

So what do you think? Did it work, any you like? Do let me know!

Thanks for visiting and have a super weekend🙂

Safe or Sorry?

Written for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle for the picture prompt below – a story in 100 words or less. For amazing stories on this prompt click here

ice-on-the-window

Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Safe or Sorry?

Words 100

“Bedtime Sue,” Anne called.

“When is Daddy coming?”

“Daddy can’t come home because of the snowstorm.”

Sue flew to the door. “I heard his car.”

“That couldn’t be Daddy. His car broke down.”

“Then who is it?”

They were alone! Anne caught hold of Sue and motioned her to silence.

Knuckles rapped the door. “Anyone home?”

“Open the door Mommy.”

Anne hesitated. Could she – should she risk it?

“We are lost, hungry and cold. Help us, please?”

Anne stilled. They were more than one.

“Don’t be mean Mommy.” Sue shook her. “They will die in the snowstorm.”

But what if…

***

What do you think Anne should do?

A word about the Story Club – since there arent too many takers (as yet) this will be a monthly event (for now) and the next one is scheduled for the 15th of July – The Open Boat hosted by YP. Anyone else willing to host a Story Club – do let me know the story and the date. Anyone game for 1st August? SMR?

And if you have time, how about a quick trip to Mumbai?😀 Click here

OBPC #26: Music Man

Musician.jpg
Can you hear the music?

For a musical treat – click here

This is response to Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge week 26.

SPF: Freedom

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

“Oh my dearest Prince how happy I am that we are together again!”

“Not as much as I, Rapunzel dearest!” The Prince held her close.

“What if Mother…?”

“Hush my dearest,” the Prince said, “She’s gone. You are free to do as you wish and I am your slave for life. Oh how I adore you!”

Rapunzel clung to him, tears of joy and relief running down her cheeks. “Take me away from here.”

“Come my beloved, my castle awaits.”

“Your castle?” She clasped his hands. ”Is it tall like this one?” She did love the view from her window.

“Not at all!” The Prince cried warmly. “My castle is no prison my beloved. You will be Queen and rule the roost. When I return from my battles, your pretty smiles, soothing songs and tender loving care will put me back on my feet.”

Rapunzel glowed with pleasure – how he loved her!

It took her five months to realize that perhaps she had been better off in the tower – Mother’s magic had made sure she never had to cook or clean. Now she barely had time to glance out of the window, leave aside sing a song.

***

Words 197; Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction (flash fiction 200 words or less). For amazing stories click here

 

For the readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 71 and a little something for the fans of Calvin! Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Dont forget to leave me a note🙂

The Christmas Present

The seventh short story submitted to the TOI Write India competition. For the other stories click here

 Author Prompt

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever. by Jaishree Misra  (For more about the contest/rules click here).

The Christmas Present

Daddy wasn’t going to come home ever.

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.

 

Rhea closed her eyes, trying to shut out the present, the past, the pain. But no matter how hard Rhea tried, the memories came flooding back. Her hiding in the dark, pressing back against the shadows, stifling her scream, of her father’s low menacing growl, “Are you hiding in here Princess? I can hear you breathing.”

Rhea clapped a hand over her nose but it was too late. A hand reached out and plucked her out.

Rhea squealed and protested even as she threw her puny arms around him. “Not fair Daddy! If I hadn’t got a cold you would have never found me.”

“Well, that’s your fault isn’t it my little Princess?” Jason pulled her button nose as he strode off with her in his arms. “Remember what the doctor said? It’s because you don’t eat properly that you keep falling ill.”

“Oh but I do eat! Do you want me to eat like an elephant?”

Jason laughed. “But that doesn’t mean you eat like an ant!”

“Daddy do you know how strong ants are? They can carry load up to 50 times their weight.”

Jason put her down and got down on his haunches beside her. “Are you 6 years old or 60?”

Rhea sighed and put her hands on her hips. “How would I know Daddy? I was just a baby when I was born wasn’t I?”

Jason cracked up.

“Come on Daddy, it’s your turn to hide now,” Rhea pulled him.

Chuckling Jason got to his feet. “Later. First have dinner.”

“No! First you hide.”

“After dinner, I promise.”

“You are cheating!” Rhea walked off in a huff.

Jason caught up with her. “Cheating?”

She looked at him knowingly. “You are trying to trick me into eating aren’t you?”

Jason clapped his hands together and bowed. “Yes Granny!”

Please and flattered, Rhea condescended to nibble at her food. “Mummy, after dinner you also come and play. It’s my turn to be the den.”

Gia smiled and pinched her cheeks. “Maybe if you finish all the food on your plate.”

Rhea rolled her eyes. “Not you too!”

Gia looked at Jason, whose shoulders were shaking. “Beware Gia, that’s not your daughter. That’s my Granny – isn’t it?”

“Yes!” Rhea frowned and tapped him on the knuckles with her spoon. “Come on now, eat your food quickly. Wash your plate and don’t forget to brush your teeth.” She dropped her serious veneer and giggled into her hand.

Warm rich laughter erupted and broke over the clatter of cutlery.

It was her turn to find Daddy. She hunted for him high and low, upstairs and downstairs, outside and inside but he was nowhere.

“Daddy? Daddy! Daddy!!!” She woke screaming.

Gia held Rhea close as she blabbered. “”Where’s Daddy? Why doesn’t he come home? Is he angry with me Mummy? I promise I will eat up everything Mummy, just ask him to come home. Tell him that I lost the game Mummy. Please Mummy.”

“Shush my darling shush. It’s okay dear. He has just gone on a long flight, somewhere very far.” Gia wiped her face and consoled her. “You know he is a pilot right? It happens that sometimes he is gone for days on end? Well this time it is just taking longer than usual.” Her voice broke and she turned away to hide her emotions.

“But why are we staying at Granny’s house? When are we going back home? What if Daddy is home? What if he can’t find us?” Rhea was getting hysterical and Gia had no answers. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Rhea the truth – her beloved Daddy wasn’t coming home ever.

“Soon sweetheart, soon.” Gia mumbled as she rocked her to sleep.

“Daddy will come home for Christmas won’t he Mummy? Will you tell Santa I don’t want any gift for Christmas? Just that Daddy should come home.”

“Yes darling.”

But days passed as did weeks and months but there was no sign of Daddy. Rhea stopped asking about him but she continued to wait for him, starting with every car that turned the corner, every knock on the door, every ring of the telephone.

And then one day, Gia stowed their bags in the car and said, “Come let’s go.”

“Where are we going Mummy? To Daddy?”

“Hush. It’s a secret!“

“Where’s Granny? Aren’t we going to say bye to her?”

“She…She’s busy.” Gia hurried her into the car.

“Oh!” Rhea squealed in delight as she spied the red blooms of their hibiscus, “We are home! Daddy, Daddy!” Rhea tumbled out of the car and stopped short.

A stranger stood at the door.

“Come Rhea, come in and meet your new Daddy.”

Rhea stared at the tall man. He wasn’t at all like her Daddy. She didn’t want a new Daddy. She wanted her old Daddy.

“Didn’t I tell you that Santa always listens to good girls?” Gia’s voice was shrill.

“Who is that?”

“That?” Gia’s laugh was forced. “That is your new brother Ron. Say hello to him dear.”

Rhea looked at the scruffy grumpy boy standing a little off. He ignored them and stared determinedly at the PSP in his hand.

Rhea’s eyes swung back to her mother. “Am I going to get a new Mummy too?”

“No!” Her mother’s voice broke on her laugh. “Why would you need a new Mummy? I am here aren’t I?” She paused. “But I am Ron’s new Mummy. Hello dear,” she held out her arms.

“I am 9 years old and I don’t need a new Mummy.” Ron stomped out of the room.

“Hello, I am Jake.” The tall stranger bent down.

Rhea stared at him unblinkingly. “I am 6 years old and I also don’t want a new Daddy.”

“Fair enough. Maybe you would like a new friend?”

“I don’t make friends easily.” She warned.

“Great! I do. So let’s play a game shall we?”

“Game?”

“A game to see who wins – you at not making friends or me at making friends.” Jake held up his hand.

Intrigued and almost reflexively, Rhea gave him a high five. “Game on!” She grinned at him confident of winning.

“Aha!” Jake pointed a finger at her, his eyes twinkling. “Be careful, you are smiling; you could lose the game.”

Rhea hurriedly straightened her expression but it slipped. She pressed her lips and turned away. “I am going to my room Mummy.” She cast Jake a sidelong glance.

Jake grinned. “I am going to win just you wait.”

Rhea stalked off with her nose in the air. She spoilt it by turning back to check if Jake was looking at her. He winked. She giggled and ran off.

Rhea was in a fix – she liked Jake but she didn’t want a new Daddy. Neither did she want a new brother.

But where was he?

Rhea peeked into the guest room. Ah, there he was, glued to his PSP.

She pushed the door open. He ignored her. Encouraged, she entered. “You are staying in this room?”

“Don’t ask stupid questions.”

“That means you are just a guest.” Rhea’s voice dripped with satisfaction.

Ron sent her a withering glance.

Unfazed Rhea carried on. “Where’s your Mummy? Is she also a pilot?”

Ron glared. “My Mummy is dead do you understand? Like your father is dead.”

“My father is not dead. His airplane got lost and he can’t find his way back. When I grow up I am going to be a pilot. I will find him and bring him back.”

“Don’t be a fool. Your father is dead. He can never come back.”

“When I become a pilot, I will hunt for your Mummy too.”

“Get out of my room leave me alone.” He slammed the door on her face.

Rhea knocked on the door until he opened the door. “What?” he snarled.

“My Daddy isn’t dead. He is playing hide and seek with me. He is doing this to make me to eat. I try very hard but I still can’t eat. No matter how hard I try, it all comes out. That’s why Daddy is still hiding from me. But he can’t hide forever can he? Did your Mummy play hide and seek with you?”

Ron’s throat worked. “No. She used to tell me stories. After I finished my homework.”

“Did you do your homework?”

“No.”

“Oh but then that will only make her angrier. Maybe if you did your homework…”

“Stop talking nonsense will you?”

“Mummy also tells stories. Shall I ask her to tell you…?”

“No! I don’t want your Mummy to tell me a story. Go away and leave me alone.”

“I also know many stories. Shall I tell you a story?”

“Of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty? No thanks.” He turned his back to her. But then he turned around again and burst out. “Just becoming a pilot won’t help. When people die they become stars. And pilots can’t reach the stars. But what would you know?” He scoffed.

She stood there beaten, but only for a moment. “Astronauts can reach the stars. I will become a pilot and you become an astronaut. Together we will find them.” She clapped her hands. “This is better than hide and seek.”

“Get out.” Ron pushed her out and closed the door.

She looked up to find Jake staring at her.

“Give him time.” Jake said. “Like you he also takes time to make friends.” He grinned. “Not like me.”

Rhea turned away but he called out. “I was just going to eat mangoes and then plant the seeds.”

Rhea stopped.

“Would you like to help me?”

Rhea nodded.

“Great! Let me call Ron as well.”

Gia peeped in to see all three of them, elbow deep in mango, peels on one side, and seeds on the other.

“Ready to plant some seeds?”

“Yay, let’s go!” Rhea scrambled up from her chair and ran out into the garden. The others followed sedately.

It was hot, sunny, and messy but a lot of fun. There were five seeds and each planted one.

“Let’s plant the last one together,” suggested Jake. So, with great enthusiasm (Rhea) and a show of reluctance (Ron), the last seed was planted rather ceremoniously.

“Well well! Just look at all of us!” Jake laughed. Rhea looked down at herself. There was no denying it she was the muddiest of the lot. “Oh! It will take ages to clean up. And Mummy will scold me for dirtying the bathroom.” She pouted.

“Hmm.” Jake tapped his cheek thoughtfully. “Let me see. How about this?” He picked up the hose and swung it towards her bare mud-caked legs. Rhea squealed and jumped. He leaned towards her. “Come on now it’s Ron’s turn.”

Rhea’s eyes widened. She grabbed the hosepipe and together they sprayed Ron top to toe. He gave a yell and jumped into fray and soon it was a free for all session, even Gia wasn’t spared. Shrieks, screams and laughter cascaded over them in healing waves.

Rhea was sporting enough to accept defeat and accept Jake as her friend if not her Daddy. Ron remained aloof and insisted on maintaining his distance. But that didn’t stop Rhea from pestering him. She would wait impatiently for him to return from school and then sit with him while he had his lunch. She would weave exotic and far-fetched plans to bring back her Daddy and his Mummy quite oblivious of his silence and rejection.

Until one day she didn’t come to sit with him.

Restless, Ron sought her out. He found her curled up in her chair, clutching her Daddy’s picture.

“What happened?” His voice was gruff.

“You were right. My Daddy and your Mummy are dead. They have gone away to a place where no pilot can go.” Tears rolled down her cheeks.

“How do you know?”

“My teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I told her I wanted to be a pilot so that I could bring back my Daddy. She…she laughed at me.” She sobbed. “The…the whole c…class laughed at me. Nobody can bring back my Daddy or your Mummy.” Rhea was quite inconsolable.

Ron stood there feeling the familiar helpless rage creep up on him. “Of course you can’t. Didn’t I tell you that long ago? But don’t worry when I grow up I will become an astronaut. I will bring back my Mummy and your Daddy.”

Rhea’s tears dried miraculously. “Really? Promise?”

Ron looked at her with foreboding. “Only if you don’t nag me. And you can’t tell anyone about this. It has to be our secret.”

Rhea nodded. “Cross my heart and hope to die. And I promise I wont even come and sit with you when you have lunch.”

Ron coughed. “You can sit if you like. I don’t mind.”

Rhea threw her arms around Ron. He let her hug him before pushing her away with a ferocious frown. She dimpled at him. She had another friend! He would bring her Daddy back. She skipped away to her Mummy.

“Why are you packing Mummy? Are we going somewhere?”

“Yes we are soon going away from here Rhea.”

“Where? To Daddy?”

“No, to a new house.”

“But why Mummy? What about our mango tree? The one we all planted?”

Gia shrugged. “We are now shifting to Bangalore where my new job is.”

“All of us?”

“No just us. You didn’t want a new Daddy or a new brother…”

“That was before Mummy. Santa was right. I…I like my new Daddy. Ron too.”

“It’s too late now. They are also leaving.”

And today Ron was gone. Jake too. They would never return, just like her Daddy. Ron would grow up and forget his promise. He would find his Mummy but not her Daddy. She clutched her pillow to crush out the pain in her chest. Ron was just a little boy but how could Jake do this to her? Hadn’t he said they were friends forever?

A paper fluttered. She picked it up. A smiley stared up at her holding a placard –Friends forever. And underneath it was a phone number.

Rhea’s heart gave a leap. Jake hadn’t really gone away. She could phone him anytime!

But…but why hadn’t Daddy left his phone number? Daddy was mean. So was Mummy.

“Mummy, you are mean too. You let Daddy go. And now you let my new Daddy and new brother go too. This time for Christmas I am going to ask Santa for a new Mummy.”

***

Yup, this one didn’t make the list either  – how about you telling me what you think – the good, the bad and the ugly…

But on a positive note – my blogger friend Ramya won the first prize for this prompt🙂 My heartiest congratulations to her! If you like, you can hop over to her blog for some awesome stories.

Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

 

FFftAW #71: Crush(ed)

photo-20160620054715745 As Angel entered the library, her pace slowed and her breath quickened. She cast a quick glance at the corner seat. It was empty.

“Cheer up! Your crush will soon be here.” Divya teased.

My crush?” Angel sneered. “I couldn’t care less.”

“There comes Laksh.” Divya grinned. “Your fan is cute.”

Feeling her color rise, Angel sat down and opened her books.

She sensed his eyes on her but she kept hers determinedly lowered. Until curiosity overpowered her. She looked up to find his eyes trained on her – an intense yet pleading look in them.

Embarrassed, she gathered her books and trotted off.

To her horror, Laksh followed her. “Wait!” he caught up with her just outside the door.

Red-faced, heart thudding Angel wondered what she would say if he came clean about his crush – dared she also…

“Excuse me?” She stared.

“I said I am sorry I didn’t mean to stare. You look exactly like my elder sister, a mother to me, miss her so much…”

***

Words: 167

Psst if you want to know what happened next click here

Written for the FFfAW – 71st challenge (100 – 175 words). Thank you Priceless Joy for hosting it and TJ Paris for the photo prompt. Click here for awesome stories on this prompt.

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 70 and a little something for the fans of Calvin😀 Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Don’t forget to leave me a note!

PS: I went a bit berserk and made a fourth post today (a record!) – relax just a few pictures of doors – err ornate doors

SPF: Dead Meat

161-06-june-19th-2016

“Hi! The whole gang here?”

“Just about.”

“Who’s getting the booze?

“Vijay is supposed to get it from the Army canteen. It’s real cheap over there.”

“Great! But where is he?”

“Talk of the Devil. You are late!”

“Yeah sorry.” Vijay slunk in.

All eyes turned to him. “Did you get the booze?”

Vijay flushed. He shook his head.

A groan rose.

“Why not?” asked Raghav the aggressive and rather bloodthirsty kinds. “You said you would. We gave you the money too.” He looked suspiciously at him. “Did you keep it for yourself?”

“Err, not exactly.”

Raghav grabbed Vijay by the collar.

Aman, the peacemaker, jumped in. “Relax Rags. Vijay, tell us what happened.”

“I bought the booze.” Vijay said. “I was on the way here when I saw Dad coming.”

“Major Rawat?!” The boys chorused. “What did you do?”

“I hid the bottle in the bushes.”

“Good thinking.” Relieved, the boys laughed.

“I thought so too.” Vijay looked glum. “Dad didn’t suspect anything and I walked on ahead with him.

The boys stared. “Didn’t you go back and collect the bottle?”

“I did. But…I couldn’t find the bush where I hid the bottle.”

***

Words: 196

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction (less than 200 words). For awesome stories on this prompt, click here.

Readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 69 and Calvin. Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

 

FFftPP #25: Nemesis

bird

https://pixabay.com/en/parrot-bird-fly-animal-wildlife-316217/

Nemesis

“Why did you buy the parrot?” Mita waited until her husband had finished his dinner. “Another mouth to feed. More work.”

“How much will she eat? I thought the children would like her.” Deep said.

“But…”

“She’s no ordinary bird. She can talk. And her name is Muniya.” Deep’s face glowed.

“But…I…we can’t call her that!”

“We can call her Ma and the children – Dadi. It will be like before, as if mother was back home.” He folded his hands in gratitude.

“But Ma left for Kashi. What will she think when she comes back?”

“I understand your hope Mita!” Deep sighed, “but we have to be realistic. It’s been two years since she disappeared. I went so many times to Kashi to look for her but…” His eye fell on Muniya. He brightened. “Ma.” he crooned. “How have you been Ma?”

“Don’t ask Deepu. Don’t ask.”

Deep started, exchanging glances with Mita.

“Ma! What happened?”

“Ask your wife.”

Mita gave a shriek and fell back.

“Ask Mita? But what?”

“How she killed me.”

Words: 175. Written for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. For other stories, click here

By the way, I made an unscheduled photo post on Saturday. In case you missed it, click here – Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Have a super cool week ahead and dont forget to leave me a note🙂

A Curvaceous Collection

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

On the track of the curve

Track.JPG

A simple curve

Simple.jpg

Woody curves

Eerie.jpg

Stony curves

Stony
Singadh Fort, Pune

Arched curves

Arched.jpg

Organic curves

Organic.JPG
Ganesh Pol at Amber Fort Jaipur built in 1611 -1667 curved gate painted with vegetable dyes still retains its originality

Intricate curves

Intricate.JPG
Sheesh Mahal, Amber Fort Jaipur made with Belgian glass

Bejeweled curves

Designer.jpg

Hairy curves

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A camel gets a designer haircut at Bikaner, India. A whatsapp forward deserving of a larger audience

And finally the curve(s) that sets everything straight🙂

Smile.jpg

PS: If you would like to see more of Jaipur, please click here and here

FFfAW #70: The Beady Eye

photo-20160613070229521

“Atishoo!” Nandini sneezed. “I am going to lie down. Finish your homework.”

Nandini tottered away stopping only to pop a pill.

“Didi,” Polly nudged her elder sister, “let’s go out.”

“But Ma said to finish homework.”

“It’s so warm and sunny outside. Please Didi.”

“But Ma…”

“Ma is sleeping.

“No.”

“But why?”

“Don’t nag Polly.”

“Please Didi.” Polly made a woebegone face.

“What if Ma gets to know?”

“She is sleeping.”

“She has eyes at the back of her head.”

“Who says?”

“Ma says.”

Polly hesitated. She marched off.

“Where are you going?”

“To check if she has eyes behind her head.”

“Polly wait!”

Standing on tiptoe, Polly peered at her mother’s head. Polly fell over with a muffled shriek and tore out of the room.

“What?” Didi asked wide-eyed.

“A green eye.” Polly gulped. “Staring at me.”

“You are in trouble!”

Nandini found them studying. “Darlings.” She bent to kiss them.

Didi reached out to tuck the dangling bead necklace behind the sari.

***

Words 164

Written for the FFfAW – 70th challenge (100 – 175 words). Thank you Priceless Joy for hosting it and Nonnaci for the photo prompt. Click here for more prompted stories.

 

Readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 68 and Calvin :- Hahah :D Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Believe It or Not

Yoohoo – it’s me again😀 Sorry to disturb you again, but Cee’s Odd-Ball Photo Challenge (again thanks to Irene) got me thinking.

But first a little backdrop for the photo😀

Some years ago, my parents had gone for a picnic not knowing that the place was owned by monkeys. As they sat down to eat, a monkey dropped in from nowhere and snatched the sabzi (cooked vegetables) bowl and climbed a tree. He sat there eating and occasionally making faces at those staring up at him. He licked the bowl clean and was considerate enough to throw it back.

Later, when my mother narrated the incident to my then 4-year-old niece, she listened in silence. “Granny, are you telling me a story or are you lying to me?”

She put is quite succinctly didn’t she? A few years later, we stopped here for tea. Like long lost friends, they turned up to share our cuppa tea. Nothing to go with it thank you – an empty packet of chips fluttered down from a tree😀

The simian has been languishing unseen in my gallery for long. I thought he was deserving of a larger audience – dont you?

Notice the drip marks? Poor fellow couldn’t quite drink from the cup. He tried his level best before pouring it over the bench and licking it up.

We have been honored at other instances too – take a look😀

Squirrel
Overnight squatters without so much as if you please…

We dared not open the window until the babies were all hatched and gone. I did have a snap of the babies as well but mama squirrel seems to have snitched it on her way out…

This was perhaps the fourth time we were playing nursemaids. On a couple of occasions we had to be cruel to be kind – building nests in the most precarious places, one gust and the whole thing was bound to come tumbling down. A council of war was held – we bit the bullet and got rid of the nest – better the nest than with the babies.

Another squirrel with more exotic tastes, was particularly impressed with the exhaust fan in the washroom. She set about nibbling at the blade without any further ado at odd hours of the day and night – giving me nightmares. What if somebody switched on the fan?

During my hostel days, I had in a moment of kindness, allowed a pigeon to make it’s nest over the cupboard. The chicks hatched and chirped – they were so cute! It was time for them to learn how to fly. Mama pigeon would by catch them by their beaks and pull them up, forcing them to flap their wings – everyday – at 4 am.

Yet the worst was when I entered late one night. I switched on the light and fan – there was a flutter and the pigeon lay beheaded on the floor. I don’t remember anything more. Another true story.

We got rid of the aspiring exhaust fan resident ASAP.

Another day it was raining heavily, when these two looked in – I am afraid we weren’t renting😉

Monkeys
Room for rent?

Did you read about when we had a cat-burglar? Seem like too much of a circus or a zoo?

Less than what we had in our childhood – frogs, snakes, leeches, jackals, elephants. Again all true.

We lived on the banks of the Ganga – elephants often dropped in for a bath, jackals howled as they are known to, frogs crept inside during the rains and the snakes followed suit.

Those were pretty exciting days. One morning Mother called Father to take care of a snake – almost ready for school, we watched with avid interest. Half asleep, he asked for a stick. Mother handed him one but it turned out to be a dried sugarcane with no backbone. There was uproar – the snake left us to our petty squabbles.

Another time, the dining table was out in the backyard as the house was being whitewashed. Father had just left the table while Mother was on her last bite – she looked up to see a snake sitting on the chair across her with its hood raised. She froze and sat until the snake got bored and slithered away.

Among the locals it is considered bad luck to kill snakes – apparently snakes have a camera in their eyes. They can capture the image of the last person they see. Their mates use this image to identify the murderer and take revenge. So the protocol was either to burn the snake immediately or (preferably) offer it some milk and wait for it to go away on its own.

While playing on the fields, we often saw small, yellow and black colored snakes and leeches too. In retrospect, we were pretty mean as children – we got morbid pleasure out of putting salt on leeches and seeing them melt. I also remember watching unflinching and with a clinical eye, the slaughter of a hen.

The youngest and the late entrant of our group had a particular liking for bees – oh yes beehives and wasp nests lurked in every nook and cranny, sometimes even inside the house. Coming back to the brave young one – he insisted on a deep study of the bees that infested one corner of his house. And what better way to investigate but to taste it?

Poor chap couldn’t even drink milk from his bottle for a few days.  The unfazed little pugilist continued to flash his adorable, albeit lopsided smiles. Undaunted, he turned up the next day with a swollen forearm.

Oh goodness me! This was supposed to be just a-one-photo post! Hope this doesn’t violate the photo challenge rules. Memories are amazing – you think you don’t have any but once you start…see I forgot about the dog we had (not me, my little sis) and the wingless parrot pet.

That reminds me – the parrots were the worst. They ate up all the mangoes leaving only the seed hanging from the trees…

Enough about my memories and time for you to share yours! Surely you too have some wonderful memories? Do share them🙂

Have a good day all of you and catch you all tomorrow, again😀

Thanks for reading!

FFftPP # 24 – A Dino Tale

bone

https://pixabay.com/en/bone-large-ostrich-femur-bleached-316228/

 

A Dino Tale

“MOM! Look what I found.” Dev ran inside.

“Yuck! What a mess!” Khushi dragged him off for a scrub.

“Why did you throw it? It was a T. rex bone!”

“No it wasn’t. It’s too small for a T. rex!”

“It was his finger bone.”

Khushi ruffled his hair. “You certainly have a T. rex bone in your head.”

“Really?” Deva’s eyes shone. “Oh I wish I was all T. rex bone.” He loped around howling and snarling.

Khushi couldn’t help laughing. “But remember, T. rex don’t eat Maggi.”

“Then I will be a Brontosaurus.” Dev decided.

“More like Maggisaurus!”

Deva gave a whoop and chanted. “Yay! I am Maggisaurus!”

What the hell Aman! Can’t you ever do anything right?”

Dev froze and stared at Khushi. She smiled at him reassuringly.

“Mom,” he lowered his voice, “I think Daddy is a T. rex.”

Khushi’s lips twitched. “Really? You think so.”

He nodded. “Yes. He especially likes to chew on Aman Uncle.”

Khushi snorted. And me.

“Where’s Chotti?”

“Sleeping. Why?”

“Better keep her away from Daddy.”

“I thought you loved Daddy?”

“I do. He is T. rex! But I love Chotti too.” He paused. “Mostly.

***

Words 200

Written for the Flash Fiction for the purposeful practitioner (200 words or less). For amazing stories click here

So what did you think? Do let me know in the comment box below. Also do let me know your thoughts and plans for the Story Club beginning from the 15th of June i.e coming Wednesday.

Have a great week.

Quote of the day:

“ ‘Aeric!’ Grayson exclaimed, with genuine delight. ‘You’re not dead yet?’

‘Not yet,’ Aeric replied, looking pleased with his continued viability. ‘But I keep trying. And so do you, I hear!’ ” L.S. Baird, Evensong’s Heir

 

Save

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Pure Fun and Joy

It was hot, sunny and humid. The boys who usually kick up a dust playing football were waiting for the sun to go down. In the meanwhile, the field caretaker watered the lawn. Look what happened! A puddle formed and the parched birds gathered around for an impromptu pool party – a moment of pure fun😀

BB
Birds having fun while the boys are away

And before you go: – dont miss the mangoes. Mother Nature’s reward to us for putting up with her temper tantrums😉

Bird Bath
Biting into a juicy sweet mango – pure unadulterated joy

This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt Pure. But honestly speaking, completely inspired by Irene’s photos. They are stunning, in a league of their own and not to be missed.

Have a super cool weekend🙂

FFftPP #23 – Monkey Business

Written for the Flash Fiction for the purposeful practitioner (200 words or less). Perhaps a bit late in the day and not exactly in line with the ‘rules’ but it is monkey business after all😀 For amazing stories click here

alligators

https://pixabay.com/en/alligator-head-close-up-reptile-316252/

 Monkey Business

“Darling! You are back!” Her teeth gleamed and her perpetual grin widened. “Where’s the monkey?” she lowered her voice.

“Err, sorry…”

“But what about my medicine?”

“I’m sorry.” He offered her his worst abject smile.

Sorry? Do you think your sorry can cure my illness?”

“Calm down honey. Your health…”

“If you are so concerned about my health, you should have…

“I tried honey. I really did, but…

“But what?

“The monkey escaped.”

“Oh no! Don’t you know I have to eat his heart to get better? You’ll have go again.”

He crept closer. “Forgive me, but he knows…”

“Oh what a fool you are. I am done with you. Get out!”

“But…

“Tell me have I ever asked you for anything?

“No honey.”

“All I ever asked for was a measly monkey’s heart and even that you couldn’t get. Go away. I never want to see your ugly mug again.”

“But our eggs…”

“Is that all that matters? Your precious water-ball team? You can say goodbye to your dream of an all-boys team. I will make sure only girls hatch from that lot.”

She swished away to pour mud over the eggs on the leafy nest.

Words 197

I guess an explanation (or two) are in order here😀. Let’s get the shorter one away with first. Interestingly crocodiles (btw all alligators [in the pic above] are crocodiles but not vice versa…err at least I think so) lack chromosomes that determine sex. Instead, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines the gender. According to Wikepedia, at 30 °C (86 °F) or less most hatchlings are females and at 31 °C (88 °F), offspring are of both sexes. A temperature of 32 to 33 °C (90 to 91 °F) gives mostly males whereas above 33 °C (91 °F) in some species continues to give males but in other species resulting in females.

Wonder what would have happened if humans too had such a system? But that’s another story😀 Coming back to the above story, many of you may have recognized (at least I hope so) as the extension of the Monkey and the Crocodile story from The Panchatantra. But just in case you have been ‘deprived’ of it, here’s the original story as well – do read, it’s one of my favorite childhood tales🙂

 The Monkey and the Crocodile

Once upon a time, there lived a monkey on a mango tree beside the mighty river Ganga. He was lonely so he befriended a crocodile with whom he shared the delicious mangoes of his tree. The crocodile enjoyed the mangoes and one day took some back for his wife. She asked him a number of questions and then got it into her head that she was more interested in eating the monkey. But she wasn’t sure if her hubby would do the needful. So she hatched a plan. She pretended to fall ill and claimed that the doctor had recommended eating a monkey’s heart. So if he wanted her to live, he should do the needful, otherwise….

The poor hubby was in a fix – friend or wife? It was a no-brainer (at least for him) and he bit the bullet. He put his plan into motion. He went to the monkey and told him that his wife liked the mango very much and in return for his kindness wanted to invite him for dinner. The monkey was pleased but sad.

“But I don’t know how to swim! How can I go?”

“No problem,” said the cunning crocodile smirking more than usual, “you can have a ride on my back.”

Thrilled, the monkey climbed onto the back of the crocodile and went off for an invigorating ride followed by a sumptuous dinner.

Half way through, the crocodile suffered bouts of doubts. He confessed the truth.

“I am sorry my friend, but my wife is dangerously ill. She must eat a monkey’s heart to survive.” The crocodile shed bitter tears. “It breaks my heart but I have no choice but to offer her your heart. Forgive me my friend, but it is my duty to fulfill her wishes.”

The monkey as you can imagine was horrified. They were the middle of the wide river and he didn’t know how to swim. Death was minutes away! He racked his brains.

“Your esteemed wife needs to eat my heart to live? Oh dear friend what an honor! But if only you had told me earlier…”

“Told you earlier? What do you mean?”

“I mean I left my heart on the tree. If you had told me, I would have brought it along.”

“We could go back and get it?”

“Sure!” the monkey beamed. “If you don’t mind swimming back that is.”

But of course he didn’t. So the crocodile swam back to the tree. The monkey promptly jumped to safety and yelled, “Tell your wife that her evil plan failed because of her foolish husband.”

The moral of the story was of course how presence of mind can save people from tricky situations but as a child, I did feel sorry for the poor hubby croc – I often wondered how she would react. Well now I know😀

Thanks for reading!  How’s this as a sample Story Club? Nope I havent forgotten and wont let you either! Do have a think over the weekend but dont forget to have loads of fun as well🙂

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 66 and Calvin :- Calvin is back in the game! 😀 Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Quote of the day: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

Echoes of Another Love

She waited in the dark still, silent and watchful. Why was he late? Was he not coming home tonight? He did that sometimes. And he never ever bothered to tell her. But she always knew – for he could never pack without her knowledge. Not much escaped her, she thought with grim pleasure.

So why wasn’t he home yet? One of those late night parties, she supposed. One would think he would know better. What about those dark circles? And when she pointed them out he would get so mad. But that wouldn’t change facts would it?

Like she had accepted that in his line of work as a model, there were others. But it was to her that he always came back, and for her that was enough.

She maintained her calm dignified exterior unruffled by goings on in his life – steadfast and unwavering in her approach. Nobody could tell by looking at her that she was waiting – waiting for his firm tread, the click of the switch, bright lights, the whirr of the fan, the rustle as he changed – perhaps that’s when he would throw her a glance.

Just a look just a glimpse of him was enough to change her entire perspective. In an instant, her empty existence would be filled with his presence. This was what she lived for as she gleamed and shone in the knowledge that he loved her, relied on her like he never did anyone else.

For it was only in front of her that he shed his mask and showed his real face. And she prided herself in showing him the nothing but the truth unmindful of the consequences.

Today she would show him the tiny white patch just under his ear. No one else other than her had ever seen it.

And no one would ever hear of it from her – not even if he smashed her to smithereens.

Written for the Indispire challenge: Write a love story with no human, animal or any living characters in it! #LoveChallenge

So what do you think? Pass or fail? Did it work?  Do let me know!

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 65 and Calvin :- Hobbes is still winning 😀 Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Quote of the day: “What does a mirror look at?” ― Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

PS: Have you given some thought to the Story Club? Come on, wake up we are supposed to begin next week! Those who are interested, please drop in your story suggestions and preferred dates of hosting the analysis and discussion – Thanks.

 

Hungry

photo-by-piya-singh-bittercharm-6
Photo credit: Piya Singh

Hungry

Words 100

“How much?” Rhea asked the man in the tattered coat persistently dogging her.

“1000 rupees only.”

“1000!”

“Please Madam think of my poor family.”

“But 1000 is outrageous!”

“Don’t mind Madam, how much?” He pointed to her new Pashmina shawl.

“2,00,000 rupees. But this is art – see the exquisite design, the handiwork – priceless. Don’t compare this to leading a pony up the mountain.”

The Kashmiri straightened and his eyes glittered. “For Madam, free trip.”

“Free?”

He picked up the free edge of the shawl and showed her – Ahmed was intricately embroidered along the design.

“I know English also Madam.”

***

Pashmina wool of Kashmir is from the undercoat of a Capra hircus laniger or a Cashmere goat. Pashmina wool is the softer hair located at the root of the longer hair. Pashminas are 15 microns or less. Each goat produces less than 100 grams of wool fiber. A fine Pashmina would require the annual growth of at least three goats to weave one shawl. Pure Pashmina is said to be almost weightless. Pashmina Shawls are handmade and hand-embroidered by Kashmiri Artisans who spend as much as two years to complete just one wrap. During a visit to Kashmir, our pony man told us that he and his family spent the winter season snowed up inside their homes making shawls. During the summer tourist season, they descended into towns to supplement their meager incomes.

Written for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (photo prompts and 100 word stories). For amazing stories click here

Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

Quote for the day: I can live for two months on a good compliment – Mark Twain

 

Love Jihad

The sixth short story submitted to the TOI Write India competition. For the other stories click here

Author Prompt

“Love Jihad

Syed and Gayatri didn’t mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect it. It creeps up suddenly. When someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter and maybe even intimacy. Love doesn’t look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every Eid. That said it all. Their paths would never have crossed if it hadn’t been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. Gayatri wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all?

She looked at her watch. Syed was late. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. They would never understand. And yet Syed made her happy.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. “On my way. Have something important to tell you.”

Gayatri stared at it and realised she had knots in her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mind. What did he want to tell her?” by Madhuri Bannerjee  (For more about the contest/rules click here).

 

Love Jihad

Syed and Gayatri didn’t mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect it. It creeps up suddenly. When someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter and maybe even intimacy. Love doesn’t look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every Eid. That said it all. Their paths would never have crossed if it hadn’t been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. Gayatri wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all?

She looked at her watch. Syed was late. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. They would never understand. And yet Syed made her happy.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. “On my way. Have something important to tell you.”

Gayatri stared at it and realised she had knots in her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mind. What did he want to tell her? Had he talked to his parents? What had they said? Was he coming to break off with her? What else could he do? Even her parent would never accept their illicit love.

No! Love could never be illicit.

Yet Gayatri couldn’t see the way out. She shuddered – how could she choose between her parents and her love? Or expect him to? So where did that leave them? Nowhere unless they ran away, leaving their parents to face the brunt of societal ire and agony of betrayal. But they couldn’t do that could they? The knots in her stomach tightened and she struggled for composure.

“Hi!” Syed broke into her thoughts as he slid into the seat opposite her. Heart thudding, she stared at him. She wished she could throw herself into his arms and let them close out the world. She didn’t need anything, anyone, hysteria bubbled up within her. “Where the hell have you been?” She couldn’t help herself. “I have been waiting and waiting. Worrying about us, and on top of it you are so late…”

Syed reached out and put a finger on her lips. “Shush. How can a doctor berate another doctor for being late? I was busy saving lives dammit!” He winked as he pressed a quick kiss on her clenched fist.

Gayatri stilled. Her eyes fluttered as she involuntarily cast a look around the cafe. What was wrong with him? He was not one for public displays of affection. And the look in his eyes! She flushed a beetroot red – yet the world, the society faded into the background. It was just them.

“What important thing?”

He clasped her hand. “Will you marry me?”

Her fingers tightened involuntarily on his. “Are you crazy? What about…”

“Look what Ammi sent.” He opened a box. “Her engagement ring. With her blessings.” He took it out and slid it on her finger. “It fits!” he gave her hand a tight squeeze before releasing it and leaning back into his seat. “I need a coffee!” He signaled for two cups and grinned at her. “What’s the matter?” His voice was innocent. “Don’t like the ring or don’t want to marry me?” He waggled his eyes at her looking smug and confident.

Gayatri worried the ring on her finger which felt odd yet right. “It’s not so simple Syed and you know it.”

“Don’t be so negative Gayatri!” He chided her. “Ammi agreed didn’t she? Your Amma too will.” He cast her a knowing look. “Once you gather the guts to talk to her of course.” He paused as the waiter placed their order. “Or should I…”

“Stop it Syed!” Gayatri was irritated. “One swallow does not a summer make. Just because your mother agreed doesn’t mean anything. What about your father? What about the others?” She looked away. “Does your mother know that I wont change my religion?”

“She does.”

“And?”

He shrugged. “And nothing. I told you she is okay with this marriage. She has given her blessings and taken responsibility for convincing my father, the others. You manage your family.”

Gayatri shook her head. “I don’t believe you. How could she agree? She doesn’t even know me.”

Syed smiled. “But she knows me!”

“Oh stop treating this as some kind of a joke dammit!”

“First you stop making it into a Laila-Majnu tragedy. For your information, this is the 21st Century.”

Gayatri clenched her fists. “Syed, I…”

“Okay!” He raised his hands. “Look, how about you meet my mother and see for yourself?”

Two days later, she was at Syed’s house. Since Syed couldn’t get leave, she was here all alone, nervous and tense. But Syed had assured her of a warm welcome. “I promise you will love her.”

Yeah, right.

“Come in dear. You are Gayatri aren’t you?” A beaming elegant middle-aged lady opened the door. “I am Ayesha, Syed’s mother.

“Namaste…I mean good afternoon Ma’am.”

“Namaste, Namaste. Come in and make yourself comfortable. Don’t worry there’s just us. Here have a glass of aam panna. It’s so hot, I thought this would be refreshing.” She bustled about busily around their cozy house. She carried in a tray loaded with goodies. “No, no you sit. I had it all ready before you came so that we could chat in peace.” She sat down across her. “Here, try this.” She held out a plate of cutlets. “Don’t worry Gayatri, it’s pure vegetarian. No onion or garlic. I even used a new frying pan.”

Tears started in Gayatri’s eyes. She just couldn’t help it. She sank down on the floor beside the baffled lady, put her head on her lap and bawled like a baby.

Ayesha let her cry for a while before forcing her up. “Enough of crying now. Go and wash up, while I make a cup of tea. Or do you prefer coffee?”

The tears started again. Gayatri controlled herself with an effort. “Tea is fine.” She managed a weak smile.

“Good. Wash your face and come into the kitchen.”

“I am sorry.” Gayatri stood behind Ayesha, pleating the edge of her dupatta. “I was very stressed and worried, you were so kind, so accepting.” she choked. “My parents…” She broke off.

“Have you talked to them?”

Gayatri shook her head. “I know they will never agree.”

Ayesha was silent, intent on the pan of boiling water.

Gayatri reached out and turned off the gas.

Ayesha started and busied herself with the tea. “Strange, how our past comes back to haunt us at the most unexpected of ways,” mused Ayesha with a twisted smile. “You could be me, three decades ago.”

“I don’t understand.”

Ayesha wore a faraway look. “When I was about your age, I was madly desperately in love with Indrajit, my childhood friend, classmate and constant companion.”

Gayatri stared.

“Nobody stopped us from playing together and we didn’t even know when we fell in love. And by then it was too late. Yet, marriage was out of the question.” Ayesha paused. “Actually, that is my greatest regret. That we didn’t even ask our parents – who knows what they would have said?”

She strained the tea and allowed Gayatri to carry the tray to the sitting room.

“What happened?”

Ayesha shrugged. “The usual. I cried, he cried. He got married. I got married and we both got on with our lives.” She smiled. “You know, you are the first person I have ever told this to. Nobody else knows, not Syed, nor his father.”

“And that is why you agreed to let your son marry me.” It was a statement not a question.

“Yes, perhaps.” An odd expression flitted across her face.

“What?” Gayatri asked.

“Indrajit has a daughter. Her name is Gayatri.”

Gayatri’s eyes widened.

Ayesha smiled. “When Syed told me, I took it as a sign, a gentle rebuke if I may call it that. I shouldn’t have given up so easily then. It was time to make amends. If not me, at least my son could have the happiness that I couldn’t.” She reached out and clasped Gayatri’s hand. “Don’t do what I did. Don’t give up so easily. Talk to your parents. At least you would have tried.”

Gayatri nodded. “Yes I will. Thank you,” she hesitated, “Ammi.”

Ayesha enfolded her in a warm embrace. “Bless you my dear. If it is meant to be, it will happen. But you have to at least try.”

Armed with these words, Gayatri took the bull by its horns and confronted her parents.

“Amma, Appa can I talk to you?”

“Yes?” Her father muted the TV and shot a look at his wife who shrugged.

“I…I love this guy and we want to get married.” She paled and her breath hitched in her throat but she gritted her teeth and continued, “his name is Syed.”

“You want to marry a meat eating scoundrel!” There was a crash as the remote hit the TV screen. Gayatri’s mother shot to her feet and slapped her. “Over my dead body.”

Gayatri’s neck snapped and she put a hand to her bruised cheek. But she held her ground. “Please Appa, he is not a scoundrel. He is also a doctor, senior to me, well-settled, good family, even his mother has agreed. And I won’t have to change my religion, eat meat…”

“Meenakshi,” roared Ravi, “tell that girl to shut up or I will murder her right now.”

“Appa,” stunned, Gayatri pleaded, “listen to me please. Just meet him once…”

Ravi strode off and returned brandishing a knife.

“Ravi!”

“Appa!”

They ran towards him but he waved them away. “One step forward and I will slash my wrists,” he positioned the knife. “Gayatri, do you swear never to talk about this thing again? Swear, otherwise I will kill myself.” He lowered the knife over his wrist.

“Appa please don’t, Appa,” Gayatri was weeping hysterically while her equally panic stricken mother berated her, “What are waiting for you wicked girl? Promise him! Promise him before he hurts himself. Gayatri does your father’s life mean nothing to you? You ungrateful wretch,” her mother shook her till her teeth rattled. “Is this why we brought you up, so that you could make us the laughing stock of our society? Is this any way to repay your parents’ debt?”

“Appa please just listen to me…

“Gayatri, I am asking you one last time.” Ravi touched the knife to his wrist and began slashing motions.

“Appa!” Gayatri shrieked. “I promise Appa, I promise. But let me meet him once, just once to explain, please Appa.”

“Fine.” Ravi nodded. “Only once. And you can invite him to your wedding next Saturday.” He threw the knife down and walked off.

“Amma! What is this about my wedding? To whom and so quickly?”

“To the first guy your father approves of, what else.” Meenaskhi too flounced out of the room.

***

“Please try and understand Syed,” a tearful Gayatri pleaded as Syed turned his back upon her, “please don’t ask me to choose you over my parents. I wouldn’t be able to live with being the cause of…”

Syed turned back and squeezed her hands before releasing them. “I am not. I am just trying to accept the situation.” His throat worked.

“What else can we do?” Gayatri said dully. “Nothing has changed in three decades.”

“What?”

“Nothing.” Gayatri shook her head. “Appa fixed my wedding. I have no choice but to go ahead with it. You also get married and forget that…” She wept bitter tears for one last time in his arms.

“You do what you think is right and I will do what I think is right.” His voice was cold and implacable.

“Wh…what do you mean?”

“I will never marry anyone other than you.”

“Syed!” her voice was a mere whisper. “Please don’t do this! I will die of guilt. You should at least try to move on.”

“I cannot, Gayatri. I cannot spoil a fourth person’s life. Please do not ask me to.”

“Syed…”

“Goodbye my love.” Syed pulled her into his arms and pressed a fierce kiss on her lips. “Remember that I will always wait for you.” The next instant, he was gone.

“Syed.” Gayatri wept bitter tears. For one wild moment she contemplated jumping off the nearest high rise building – anything to be rid of this deep agonizing excruciating unbearable pain. But then her phone rang.

“Yes Appa, I told him. He has gone. Yes, Appa, I am coming home.”

True to her word, Gayatri didn’t contact Syed. Yet she couldn’t prevent herself from calling Ayesha.

“How is he?”

“How do you think? Completely shattered.” Ayesha was short.

Guilt smote Gayatri. “Please don’t be like that! I thought you would understand. I didn’t have a choice!”

“I disagree.” Ayesha’s voice was hard. “There is always a choice. You made yours. You chose your father over my son. Your father is alive. My son…” She choked.

Gayatri flared up. “How can you blame me, when you also took a similar decision?”

“That wasn’t my decision. It was Indrajit’s. He was too cowardly to face societal ire. I was ready to brave anything but he backed out.” Her voice broke. “And now you. I hope you are happy Gayatri.” She disconnected the phone.

Gayatri broke down – it wasn’t fair! She screamed silently and not for the first time. Why should so many lives be shattered because of the outdated dictates of some faceless, unknown ‘society’?

Taking no chances, Gayatri was married off to Ramesh at the next auspicious date in a quiet private ceremony followed by a gala reception. Society turned out in large droves to bless the happy couple, gush over the ostentatious arrangements and gorge on the lavish spread. Ravi and Meenakshi beamed from ear to ear as they basked in the glory of their appreciation. They heaved a sigh of relief and carried on with their lives.

A few days later, Gayatri burst into her parents’ home and threw up in the washroom.

“What the hell!” Ravi thundered. “I will kill you.” He grabbed a still retching Gayatri by the throat and shook her like a ragged doll.

“Are you crazy?” Meenakshi threw herself into the fray and dragged Gayatri away.

Meenakshi slapped her hard. “Get out you shameless woman. I never should have brought you home from the orphanage.”

Gayatri stilled as the penny dropped.

“And yet you didn’t let me marry Syed?”

“You ungrateful wretch!” Ravi charged at her.

Gayatri held up her hand. “Relax. I am not pregnant.” She looked Ravi full in the eye and said, “I threw up because Ramesh, your beloved son-in-law, insisted that I eat meat.”

So what did you think? Look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, thoughts  – thanks. Click here for more short stories or for more about the blog.

SPF: Holidays!

 

158-05-may-29th-20161

Holidays!

(Words: 187)

“Why do I have to always sit in the middle,” Molly grumbled.

“Because you are the middler!” Pia giggled.

“There’s no such word.” Rohan sneered.

“There is!”

“There isn’t!”

“Middler is a word isn’t it Mom?”

“Are you hungry?” Mom handed out sandwiches.

“I don’t like tomatoes.”

“Eat it up. It’s good for you.”

“Yech! You dropped it all over me.”

“I did not!”

“You did! Mom will you look at her?” Molly called.

“Here use this tissue to clean it up.”

“Mom look! Rohan is stealing my samwich.”

“Eat up quickly then.” Mom turned to glare at Rohan.

“Mom are we there yet?”

“But we just left home dear.”

“I need to go.”

“Later.”

“I am thirsty.”

“Not now.”

“How much longer?”

“Another 8 hours.”

“Why is it so far away?”

“If you go to sleep, we’ll reach faster.”

“Can I have Pooh-bear? I can’t sleep without Pooh.”

“It’s in the green bag. Would you take it out from the boot of the car?” Mom asked Dad.

“The green bag?” Molly asked.

“Yes.” Mom looked at Molly. “Why?”

“But we left that on the dining table.”

 

Quote of the day: There is no such thing as fun for the whole family – Jerry Seinfield

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction (within 200 words) For better stories click here

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 64 and Calvin :- down but not out😀 Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

I’ve been thinking

Gotcha! You think I am thinking about Thinking…? But actually it’s about something completely different.

I have been thinking if anybody would be interested in a Story Club? Just think about it for a moment. I mean we all love stories right and there are probably a gazillion stories out there in the world, which we will never read or even get to know about. How sad is that? Suppose somebody brought a special story to your notice, explained its nuances, shades, metaphors, techniques wouldnt that be awesome?

So I wondered about floating a story club – a short story club if you like where each week one story could be read, discussed, analyzed – wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t you like to be part of such a club?

So, if there are any takers, this is how it would function (I told you I have been thinking).

Interested participants would:

  1. Mention the name of the chosen story  and the date (any Wednesday) of posting (beginning 15th June) in the reply box below.
  1. On the designated date, put up a post (on his or her blog) highlighting the uniqueness, underlying theme, message or anything else that may be of interest.
  1. Ping back the URL here so that we can all hop over to read, chat, interact and broaden our horizons.
  1. The participant should announce at least a week in advance the name of the story and preferably one that is freely available online to enable maximum participation.
  1. Others may also put up posts on their blogs pertaining to the same story (with a ping back here to let us join the party)
  1. In case the story is not available online please provide a brief synopsis before writing about it.
  1. Interested non-bloggers (ahaa I got my eye on you) can mention the name of story and date and mail me the post. Full credit is assured.
  1. And finally, just in case there are no takers, I will start reading the short stories on my own.

So what do you think? Suggestions, questions and comments are welcome – in fact eagerly awaited. I hope you wont disappoint me (besides I am holding my breath)…

 

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 63. Before you rush off, have a look at Calvin and don't forget to let me know what you think - "I am in" would also be great😀

Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

 

 

The Proposal

The fifth short story submitted to the TOI Write India competition. For the other stories click here

Author Prompt

“It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.”  by Ravinder Singh (For more about the contest/rules click here).

The Proposal

It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.

Heart thudding, I ducked to avoid meeting her. After her brutal rejection, it had taken me long to find my balance again. I was in a happy place now, thanks to Avani, my guardian angel. I was finally over Sonia. But going by my current heart rate, I suddenly wasn’t quite so sure.

I took a quick peek ahead. Sonia had reached the counter. Relax Nikhil, I told myself, she might not be going to Bengaluru. Even if she is, so what? Best if you stay away from her, some sane inner voice warned me.

But then when had I ever listened to it. Besides, fate had other plans.

A little girl came toddling forward. She tottered and would have tripped over my suitcase. I swung her away to safety half expecting her to scream blue murder. But she chortled in glee and waved her clenched fists only to hit me squarely in the eye with the toy she was clearly escaping with. “Ouch!” I yelped although I couldn’t help but warm to her infectious joie de vivre.

“Nika!” an all too familiar voice scolded. My heart plummeted to my stomach and I unexpectedly felt bereft as Nika was plucked from my arms. I felt naked and exposed. Myriad emotions assaulted me. I had a desperate irresistible desire run away and hug Sonia at the same time. What if she treated me like a stranger? What if she didn’t? I was terrified of making a fool of myself. With a vague idea of delaying the inevitable, I turned away and focused on rubbing my eye.

“I am sor…Nikkss? Oh Niks is that you? So good to see you!” She slid an arm around me and held me close whilst Nika gurgled in my ear.

With a sense of relief, I gave up avoiding her. “Hi Sonia,” I mumbled awkwardly, not quite the suave confident branch manager that I actually was. I coughed and tried again. “Good to see you too.” I raised an eyebrow. “So what’s Nika short for?” Nobody could fail to admire the pretty picture of mother and daughter. Yet, in her jeans and top, Sonia looked barely old enough to be out of school. She had never been fat but now she was almost painfully thin and fragile. Her eyes, easily her best feature, were still deep and mysterious.

Her tinkling laugh washed over me. “Yeah I still have that habit,” she said with a touch of apology. “Nayanika, say sorry to Niks.” She pressed a kiss on a chubby cheek and gave her a cuddle.

Nika offered the most unrepentant of smiles and lisped, “Shollee Inks.” I fell in love all over again – with Nika and Sonia.

“Hang on a minute will you while I check in? Going to Bengaluru right?” I said.

She nodded. “It’s going to be a pain what with the flight being indefinitely delayed.”

“Let’s grab a coffee shall we? I guess we are on the same flight.” I said as we compared boarding passes.

By the time I had queued up and paid for the coffee, I regretted my impulsiveness. Didn’t I say Sonia was best avoided? The voice growled.

Oh, go take a hike I mumbled silently and strode over to the ladies waiting for me. “Coffee for you and a brownie for Nika.”

“Oh she won’t have.” Sonia broke off a piece and popped it in her mouth.

“I’m guessing she will. Like mother, like daughter,” I said softly. Her gaze skittered away. “Hey Nika,” I said briskly, “do you want to try a brownie?”

“Blownie.” Game, Nika grabbed it and stuffed it on her face. Plastered, she chomped on it happily and slurped. She held out her chocolaty chubby fingers, “Mole!” she demanded imperiously.

I shot Sonia a triumphant look but she returned an exasperated look. “Exactly why I told you not to give it to her. Look that the mess she created.” She grabbed the last piece and ate it all up except for one tiny bit, which she put into Nika’s mouth. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. Keep an eye on my stuff.” She walked off to the washroom.

Nika was irritable and cranky by the time she came back. Sonia struggled to calm her down but with little success. I watched helplessly. “She was an angel just a little while ago.”

“She is an angel,” Sonia said. “It’s just that she is hungry. If only she would let me prepare the formula, but,” she shrugged helplessly as Nika clung to her wailing.

“Here, let me try.” I said rather foolhardily. “Nika, come let’s go see airplanes, whoosh!” I didn’t give her a chance to protest as I swung her into my arms and loped off to the huge windows. Luckily a plane had just landed and distracted Nika. “Plane! Whoosh!” she informed me and gazed at it interestedly for a moment or two. “Nonia?” her lower lip trembled and her eyes filled with tears.

“Yeah, let’s go find Nonia!” I planned on taking a long detour but she cottoned on pretty quickly and switched on the siren. I hurriedly changed directions and peace reigned as I restored her to Sonia.

“Where’s her father?” I asked despite myself. “It’s tough to travel alone with a toddler.”

Sonia’s face clouded over and her throat worked convulsively. “We filed for divorce over irreconcilable differences.”

“I am sorry.” I hated myself for feeling vindicated.

“It’s been awful Niks.” A dam seemed to burst. “Right from very beginning it has been a ghastly never-ending nightmare. Except for Nika. If it weren’t for her, I would have surely jumped off the nearest roof by now.” She shuddered and clutched Nika close.

“Don’t say that!” I was horrified. “Nothing is worth your life.” After all I had learnt that lesson the hard way.

Sonia shook her head. “You have no idea how much I regretted parting ways with you Niks. You have absolutely no idea! I wish I had never given into Dad’s antiquated ideas of caste and status. It’s not fair Niks,” she cried as she turned to me, “what was my fault? All I did was obey my parents and look where it landed me.” A tear rolled down her cheek. She hastily brushed it away.

“Shush Sonia,” I muttered casting a nervous look around, “don’t blame yourself. We have been conditioned to obey to our parents. Besides marriage is a gamble. You win some and lose some.” I shrugged. “Maybe that’s why I never could take the plunge.”

“Lucky you,” she said dully. “Dad is after my life to get married again.” She shook her head. “My divorce hasn’t yet officially come through, and neither have I recovered from the trauma, yet he wants me to jump into the fire once again.”

“Maybe he is just trying to tell you that you should not let this tragic experience sour you. He wants you to get married again and lead a normal happy married life…”

She looked at me, disbelief was written all over her face. “I can’t believe you are defending Dad!” She gently rocked Nika, whose eyes had begun to close. “I have to consider Nika, her safety and well being.” She looked up pleadingly at me. “How can I trust another man? Be sure that he wouldn’t harm Nika in any way – be the right father figure for her?” She smiled wanly. “Unless it’s you of course.”

My heart thumped madly. “Are you proposing to me Sonia?” I asked carefully.

Sonia shrugged. “There is nobody else I trust more in this world.”

“What about your father?”

Sonia flushed. “That’s a low blow,” she mumbled.

“Why hint at things you know are not possible?” Old forgotten emotions flared up suffocating me. “Do you know how long it has taken me to move on? Why are you hell bent upon playing with my…”

“Please Niks.” she put a hand on mine. “I am sorry I hurt you. Can we start all over again? Please?”

“What about your father? His objections? None of it has changed, has it?” I lashed out in bitterness and anger.

“I will convince him.”

“How? You couldn’t convince him four years ago.” I vacillated between hope and despair. Could my wildest dreams actually come true?

“I will convince him,” she insisted. “I was young and foolish then.”

“But what if you can’t?” I persisted. “Whom will you choose this time?”

“I will convince him,” she parroted. She looked around. “Damn it, how delayed is our flight? Here, hold Nika will you? I need to use the washroom.”

Sonia disappeared and as if on cue, Nika began fussing which blew up into a major tantrum. Harried, I walked about trying to distract her but she wasn’t interested, until she caught sight of a little girl eating an ice cream.

“Ice cleam,” she demanded tearfully. Relieved, I purchased one for her. Instantly appeased, she was all delighted smiles and gurgles. She gave it a dainty lick.

“Nika!” Sonia snatched the ice cream from her and threw it in the dustbin. “What the hell Nikhil! Did I say you could give her an ice cream?”

I was aghast. “It was just an ice cream for heaven’s sake! She woke up and was howling so I thought…”

“Next time leave any thinking regarding Nika to me,” her eyes shot daggers at me as she took Nika away, “she is my daughter…”

Blood rushed to my head. “Is this how much you trust me?”

Sonia stilled. She dug out a chocolate from her bag and handed it to Nika. “Sorry Niks. I didn’t mean it that way. Actually Nika has a bad cold…”

“So what exactly did you mean Sonia? That I come a poor third in your life?” Bile rose up and choked me.

Sonia’s wide lustrous eyes filled with tears. She held Nika close. “Please don’t twist my words out of context. I admit I am rather possessive and overprotective about my daughter but…”

My phone rang. It was Avani. “Hello.” I said.

Avani immediately cottoned on. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Our flight has been further delayed by an hour.”

“But that isn’t why you are upset is it?”

“I am not upset.”

“Of course you are.”

I sighed defeated. I never could fool Avani. “Don’t worry, I am fine.” I calmed down and my voice softened. “I’ll speak to you later okay? Bye.”

“Who was that?” Sonia pounced.

“Avani.”

“Avi! That mousy ugly looking nobody?”

“Sonia!” I was taken aback by the vicious attack. “Don’t talk about Avani like that.” I swallowed. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today.” I looked down on my clenched fists and then raised my eyes to look at Sonia bleakly. “When you left me I was completely shattered.” I broke off, unwilling to revisit those agonizing days. “Avani gave me a second chance at life with her unconditional love and support.”

“Avi was always a sucker for sob stories,” Sonia sneered. “Don’t make the mistake of confusing her pity for love.”

I looked at Sonia in sudden dislike and everything fell into place. I felt light and free.

“I would rather take her pity and unquestioning friendship over your selfishness.” I shot back.

“Don’t be an emotional fool Niks.” Sonia’s eyes hardened.

I shook my head. “You mistake Sonia. For once I am being practical. With Avani, I would always come first. But with you, I would never be quite sure.” I paused. “A convenient caretaker perhaps?” I nodded casually and walked off jauntily feeling as if I had been released from prison.

I couldn’t wait to meet Avani.

“Nikhil! You are so late! Are you okay? I have been waiting…”

“Whoa Avani. Relax!” I shrugged off my bag. “I am fine. The flight…”

“Yes,” she brushed me aside impatiently, “but you sounded so upset…”

I held her by the arms. “I was, but now everything is just perfect.” I gave her a warm hug.

She gave me a quizzical look. “Now this is a first!” She dragged me to the sofa. “Tell me all.” She patted the sofa invitingly.

“I met Sonia and her daughter at the airport.”

Avani stiffened and she eyed me warily.

I sighed. “She’s getting a divorce and sort of proposed to me.”

Avani’s eyes widened. “So what did you say?” she seemed to be holding her breath.

For an answer, I went down on one knee and pulled out a ring with a flourish, “Will you marry me?”

Avani clapped a hand to her mouth and stared at me with eyes round with shock. Her face cleared; she clapped her hands. “Oh, is that how you are planning to propose to Sonia? What a beautiful ring!”

“No you silly girl,” I smiled. “I am proposing to you my love.”

“But why?” she gasped, “I thought you…”

I stood up and pulled her into my arms. “I know – I thought so too! But the fact is I love you. Life without you is meaningless…”

“What!” Avani moved away twisting her fingers. “I never thought…I mean I never meant for you to…but I don’t…” she looked at me pleadingly.

“Don’t what Avani?” I asked gently. “Love me?” I looked at her knowingly. “I know you do. But never mind, even if you don’t.” I squeezed her hands. “I have love enough for both of us.” I said grandly. “You have been my pillar of strength. Now it’s payback time…”

She withdrew her hands. “Payback? But for what?” Her voice gentled. “I was just being a good friend Nikhil.” Her soft doe eyes looked at me anxiously. “I am sorry if you got the impression that I love you.”

I stared at her uncomprehendingly.

Avani flushed guiltily and looked away. “Perhaps you remember I had submitted a proposal to Harvard?” She met my eyes. “Well, they liked it and offered me a teaching assistant-ship. I join next month.”

So what did you think? Look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, thoughts  – thanks. Click here for more short stories or here for more about the blog.

 And while you were busy partying over the weekend, I had a little blast of my own and posted another little story Although I did miss the deadline :(  Anyway since you are here, might as well skim over that as well? What’s a few more words (with a picture to boot) right?😀 Thanks!

And don’t forget to leave me a note (or two, or three — yea am greedy that way😀 )

SPF: The Troubleshooter

Hello! (gasping for breath) here I am with a short story (within 200 words) for the Sunday Photo Fiction (22/5/16).

157-05-may-22nd-2016

The Troubleshooter

Words 194

“Pia!” Molly snatched the glass from her.

“I never had a blue drink before.” Pia said sulkily.

“How was it?” Sid flicked it a longing look but a glare from Molly quelled him.

“Papa will be back with his guests any minute.” Molly fretted while Pia was quite unconcerned. But then she was barely 4 years old. “He will be very angry.” Molly warned.

Pia’s lower lip trembled and tears filled her eyes.

Sid rushed to help. “If I tilt the table like this, Uncle may not notice anything.”

“Sid!” Molly rushed to stop him, casting an agonized glance at the French windows. “Do you want to break the glasses?”

Chastened, Sid busied himself with a rubber band. Pia wandered over to him. “I want to play too.”

Molly looked at them in disgust – why did she always have to clean up after them?

Molly picked up a glass of water. She stretched up on her toes, and with her tongue sticking out, poured it over the blue drink. After a quick level check, she topped the yellow drink as well.

Molly smiled in relief. Now, nobody would realize anything was amiss.

Not quite sure if I am in time or not but still, here goes - do let me know how it was!

Save

Thinking…

Hello! I know what you all are thinking – now what🙂 And you are right! As usual, I am up to no good, poking my nose into stuff that are not my business. But what to do – Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (photo prompts and 100 word stories) has me hooked. I find it fascinating how a single prompt can inspire such a diverse range of stories – quite remarkable. Anyway I couldn’t quite resist, so here I am with another attempt. But first the prompt.

waves
Copyright Rochelle

Thinking…

Word count – 99

There was a gasp of horror and a crowd gathered.

Help! Someone save her! Mommy, take me along, Mommy I want to swim too! Someone do something! Hurry!

The waves thrash her body dragging her deeper into the ocean. Floating all alone in the sea under the blazing sun. Until the predators arrive one by one, to nibble at her flesh. She lay passive as they swarm all over pecking at her mortal remains.

Unknown hands drag her daughter away. She is alone. Then the predators arrive…

“Mommy?” A hand tugged hers.

Shuddering, she stepped back from the edge.

========================================================================

Do let me know what you think. And for amazing stories on this photo prompt click here. Perhaps you could even participate! Click here for more Short Stories or here for more information About the Blog

For the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 62 and a little something for the fans of Calvin😀

Quote for the day: “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Have a great weekend all of you and dont forget to leave me a note🙂

Weather Woes

But first some good news! After days of patiently putting up with my rants about the weather you certainly deserve it🙂 I am pleased to report that finally the weather has take a turn for the better. Believe it or not, on Monday, the temperatures plummeted from a sizzling day temperatures of 47 0 C to a pleasant evening at 27 0 C.

A thunderstorm accompanied by a shower overcame the sun (for the moment at least) and brought cheer right back into our lives. Even the staid seasoned trees look positively thrilled – clean green and fresh. I cant help but be infected by their silent but all pervading joie-de-vivre.

On the flip side, several flights were delayed or cancelled. But the respite couldn’t have come at a more timely juncture. Things were quite awful in most parts of the country and temperatures at the India-Pakistan border were higher by 10 degrees or more. Actually am not sure there has been any relief for the army jawans who patrol the borders in the most unbelievable heat and dust of the Thar desert. According to newspaper reports, they were able to roast papad by just placing it on the hot sand and cook rice by just keeping it out in the sun for 3 hours.

And then there was this tragic incident. A villager, while entertaining guests, forgot about his camel left out in the heat with his legs tied. When he remembered and went out to release it the camel turned violent. He picked him by the neck and threw him down, he then chewed off his master’s head. The camel went berserk and 25 men struggled for over 6 hours to bring it back under control. Poor camel – the heat must have literally fried his brains (my sympathies and condolences to the villager’s family).

That’s all on the weather front for now at least – for this isn’t the end of summer. So as they say cheer up the worst is yet to come. And memes like this are bound to crop up (again and again) before the mangoes bid their final adieu for the season.

IMG-20160521-WA0011(1)

But let us make hay while the sun shines – oops wrong quote😉. Make every dull day count😀

And now on to Moonshine – Chapter 61 and Calvin. All those rooting for Hobbes raise your hands😀

 

Quotes for the day

“Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.” ― Oscar Wilde

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” ― Kim Hubbard

Before you go, do leave me a note, about the weather if nothing else (go ahead make me nervous)

 

It’s Complicated

The fourth short story submitted to the TOI Write India competition. For the other stories click here

Author Prompt

“In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.
When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny…his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.” by Tuhin A Sinha (For more about the contest/rules click here).

It’s Complicated

“Darling!” Rishaan enfolded Kiara, his wife, in a bone-crushing hug and showered her face with kisses. “What happened? Oh look at you poor sweetie, so pale and wilting. Are you okay?”

Kiara clung to his familiar warmth and burrowed closer to him seeking comfort and strength. “Oh Rishaan, I am so glad you are home,” she blubbered. “Somebody was here! He tried to strangle me and throw me over the balcony.” She burst into gut-wrenching sobs as the memory of those horrific moments overwhelmed her.

“Who was it? Did you recognize him?” Rishaan shook her.

“No.” Kiara sniffled. “He was wearing a mask, it was dark, and just as suddenly he dumped me and vanished,” she trembled and shook, “he must have heard Sunita enter…”

Rishaan frowned. “Sunita? Why was she even here? She leaves by four o’clock doesn’t she?”

“Yes, she was God sent I guess!” Kiara laughed shakily. “She forgot her mobile.”

“Thank God.” Rishaan hugged Kiara.

Rishaan lodged a complaint with the police. A cursory investigation was undertaken and security beefed up. Yet, several days later, Kiara was still shaken and often woke up screaming.

“Let’s go for a holiday,” suggested Rishaan. “How about Goa?”

Delighted, Kiara threw her arms around him. “I would love to.”

So, here they were at the airport, checked in and waiting to board their flight.

“Be right back,” Kiara murmured. Rishaan smiled and blew her a kiss.

Life was so unpredictable mused Kiara. Till about a week ago they weren’t even talking to each other and now off on a romantic get-away!

Over the last couple of years since they had been married, the Rishaan she had known before their marriage seemed to have disappeared. And of late, all they did was fight, especially about money. In fact before the accident, things had deteriorated so much that they hadn’t been on speaking terms for almost a week. It had all begun when he wanted her to invest in a business plan of his – buying and selling property.

“What nonsense Rishaan,” Kiara had snapped, “beats me you come up with such ludicrous ideas? Do you have any idea about how the real estate business runs? Besides, don’t you know the market is in a slump right now?”

“Yes and that is exactly why I need to jump in right now. All I need is capital.” He waved his hands dismissively. “Don’t worry, I got it all worked out, contacts, property, everything. Within a few months I will pay you back. With interest.”

Kiara narrowed her eyes. “If you are so sure, why don’t you borrow from the market?” she watched in satisfaction as he flinched. “Look Rishaan, I don’t want to be negative and uncooperative, but the fact is you have frittered away all your money on various impractical business ventures and I refuse to let you do the same with my money.”

She paused and took the plunge. “In any case, I have been thinking that Dad wasn’t fair in making me the sole heiress,” she swallowed, “I do feel bad for Nikhil. He doesn’t deserve to be cut off like this, so maybe…”

“What!” Rishaan was instantly up in arms, “You intend to share your inheritance with that good for nothing brother of yours, but you wont lend me the money? How fair is that?”

“My brother is good for nothing? What about your evil, scheming grasping mother?”

The conversation had deteriorated from that point onwards and their relationship had hit an all time low.

Until the murder attempt and now it was as if they were a couple of newlyweds. Yet something wasn’t quite right. An eerie feeling had been dogging Kiara since the day of the attack – who would want to kill her? Could – could it be Rishaan?

She didn’t want to believe it, but a gut instinct kept nagging her, alternately making her feel guilty and giving her nightmares. Stop being so melodramatic and fanciful, she had castigated herself a million times. And even though she had been excited at the prospect of a Goa get-away, later, misgivings had assaulted her. Why was he being so nice to her? Was he hatching some plot to extract money or worse?

Frowning Rishaan scanned the airport – their flight boarding had been announced and Kiara hadn’t yet returned. Damn the woman, where the hell was she?

“Rishaan, look who I bumped into? And guess where she is going?”

“Hey Diya.” Rishaan clasped her hand and shook it warmly. “After a long time huh?”

Diya smiled and nodded. “Yeah almost 5, no 6 years right?” She looked at them both. “So you two did get married. And didn’t even invite me.” She pouted.

“You were the one who disappeared right after college Diya,” Kiara reminded her. She elbowed Rishaan. “I think she had a crush on you and couldn’t bear that you preferred me over her!” giggling, Kiara said in a loud whisper.

Diya flushed and her eyes flickered. “Rubbish.”

“Just ignore her Diya.” Rishaan jumped in though privately, he agreed with Kiara. “Tell us, where have you been, what have you been doing? And…”

“Whoa, hold your horses Rishaan.” Diya held up her hand as if shielding herself. “I have been here and there, doing this and that. Come on, let’s proceed for boarding.” She started walking.

“Are you alone?” Rishaan looked around.

“Yeah,” Diya said a bit defensively, “my boyfriend and I just broke up and I needed a little pampering,” she shrugged, “so here I am off to Goa alone.”

“Good for you.” Kiara gave her a quick hug. “Why alone? We’ll be there.”

“Are you crazy? You love-birds won’t want me hanging around.”

“Oh but we do, right Rishaan?”

As Diya moved ahead to show her boarding pass, Rishaan deliberately hung back. “Why are you forcing her to join us? I thought it was going to be just us?” he frowned.

“Of course Rishaan.” Kiara smiled and linked her arm with his. “But it will be fun to have company don’t you think? Diya is a great gal and,” she grinned wickedly, “it’s always nice to meet an old flame isn’t it?”

“What nonsense Kiara. It will be so awkward and embarrassing.” He glared at her. “I thought we were going to reconnect and here you go and invite Diya.”

“Come on Rishaan,” Kiara whispered hurriedly as they cleared the gate and boarded the bus, “just trust me okay. It’s going to be fine. Poor thing, she is so upset, didn’t you see? Breaking up is never easy. Hey Diya, what’s your seat number? Let’s sit together shall we?” In the airplane, Kiara coaxed the gentleman sitting by the window to give up his seat for Diya and they sank down jabbering incessantly.

Rishaan sat mutinously in his seat feeling very frustrated and irritated. Things were going to be difficult with Diya hanging around them. After the first failed attempt, he couldn’t afford slip up again. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. Dammit he had it all worked out – the rocky beaches of Goa would have provided the perfect setting – one misstep and her fortune would be his. But Kiara seemed to possess the Devil’s luck – first Sunita, now Diya.

Damn, damn and triple damn.

He looked over towards Diya in a calculative manner – her clothes screamed money. Maybe she still carried a torch for him, maybe he could…his lips curled as he picked up the in-flight magazine.

There was a lull in the conversation. Rishaan looked up to find that Kiara had dozed off. He smiled apologetically at Diya. “She hasn’t been sleeping well for the past few days.”

“I know.” Diya nodded. “She told me. I wonder who would try to kill her?”

Unwilling to pursue that line of conversation, Rishaan leaned over and brushed his thumb over her cheek. “There’s something here. All gone now,” he murmured softly.

Diya’s eyes flew to his. They bore into hers – warm and intimate. Her eyes fluttered and fell on Kiara. Diya turned to stare determinedly out of the window.

In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.

When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny…his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.

“Guess what?” Kiara said as they disembarked, “Diya is staying at the same hotel as us!”

Rishaan froze as alarm bells went off – this had to be more than mere coincidence.

“Great.” He mumbled.

As they waited for their luggage to arrive, Rishaan said to Kiara, “Do you have the carpenter’s number? I forgot to cancel his visit.”

Busy chatting, Kiara handed him her phone. He turned away and hurriedly flicked through her email. His eyes hardened. Kiara had not only booked Diya’s ticket to Goa but also her hotel room. Now why would she do that? Did she suspect something? And of all the people in the world, why Diya?

He handed back her phone.

Just then a man staggered as he attempted to pull off an unwieldy heavy bag off the conveyor belt and crashed into Diya. She steadied but her purse fell on the floor scattering its contents. With a muffled curse Diya bent to collect her stuff. Rishaan too knelt alongside her and picked up her eyeliner, lipstick and a few visiting cards. He stared as Diya snatched the stuff from his hands and stood up mumbling, “Thanks.”

Rishaan casually lumbered to his feet but not before he had neatly pocketed the visiting card stuck under the wheel of their trolley.

“My pleasure.” He smiled.

It was only when they were seated in the taxi did he look at the card. It was a simple plain card yet the contents sent shivers down his spine. Diya Sharma Private Investigator. Only an email address was provided.

Sweat beaded his brow. Kiara was on to him. She had hired Diya who was a private detective. Inexplicably he felt betrayed – how could Diya do this to him? On the plane, he could have sworn her pulse had raced at his touch, her breath hitched while her eyes – no, he was sure she still loved him.

He had to play his cards carefully.

As they walked on the beach, Kiara couldn’t resist the lure of the waves. As she splashed about and played with the waves, Diya and Rishaan stood apart watching her.

“Why did you suddenly vanish after college?” Rishaan asked abruptly.

“That’s in the past.” Diya didn’t look at him.

“Okay fine. So tell me what exactly are you doing here?”

Diya laughed lightly as she turned to him. “I told you, my boyfr…” she broke off at the accusing look in his eyes, “what?”

“This.” He handed her visiting card. “And Kiara booked your flight tickets.”

Diya was silent. She looked up at him. “Maybe you should join us.” She offered him a small smile.

“It’s not funny.” Rishaan ground out.

She raised an eyebrow. “And attempting to murder one’s wife is funny?”

“Is that why you are here?” shocked at the direct attack, he blustered, “to catch me red-handed? Put me behind bars?” He cast a look towards Kiara to make sure she wasn’t looking this way. He slipped an arm around her waist and gave her a warm squeeze. “I thought you loved me.” His voice dropped to a husky murmur and his warm breath fanned her cheek.

He felt her shiver. Her lashes fluttered and dropped under the intensity of his gaze. “It’s not like that Rishaan.” Her breath was uneven. “When Kiara called me with her suspicions, I had to come.” She met his gaze limpidly. “I had to save you.” She cleared her throat and moved away. “Kiara’s coming. We’ll talk later.” She smiled and waved. “I have a better plan,” she muttered to Rishaan before walking over to Kiara.

“Did I interrupt something?” Kiara asked.

Diya looked at Rishaan. “We were just arguing over what to do next.” She grinned. “We are going shopping and then Rishaan is treating us to dinner.”

Dinner was primarily a mishmash of covert searing glances, warm breaths, furtive, amorous touches and doublespeak.

Later, Rishaan gave in to his baser instincts and knocked her door. “Diya!” he enfolded her in his embrace.

“Rishaan! What are you doing here? It’s almost midnight, what if Kiara…”

“Don’t worry. I slipped her a couple of sleeping pills.” He cupped her face and looked deep into her eyes. “Sweetheart,” he began huskily.

Diya’s eyes fell. “Come inside.” She pulled him in and shut the door.

Inside, he tried to pull her into his arms but she pushed him away. “We need to talk.” She pulled on a robe over her flimsy nightwear.

“I guess,” said Rishaan. He tucked a stray lock behind her ear and ran a finger down her cheek. “What better plan were you talking about?”

“First let me clear this.” Diya held his gaze. “You want to get rid of Kiara permanently isn’t it?”

Rishaan nodded.

“You were the ‘intruder’ who tried to throw Kiara off the balcony wasn’t it?”

“Yeah so?”

Diya sighed. “So, don’t you see Rishaan, any accident, you are going to be the prime suspect?”

“Yeah I realized that…”

“But what was your plan?”

“I was kind of hoping that the rocky beaches would provide the ideal setting for Kiara to slip and hurt herself fatally.”

Diya shook her head. “It’s not so simple Rishaan. A thousand things could go wrong. What if…”

“Yeah yeah, I realize that now,” he cut in, “but if you are with me, I am sure we can come up with a foolproof plan to kill Kiara.” His eyes gleamed with a fanatic light. “And then we could live happily ever after.”

There was a click and the door opened. Kiara stood there. Beyond her, in the corridor stood a couple of policemen.

Dumbfounded Rishaan stared from one to the other.

“Diya!” he found his voice, “I thought…

“You thought I loved you and that’s why I left when you and Kiara decided to get married?”

Rishaan’s eyes widened and he paled.

Diya slipped an arm around Kiara and pulled her close. “We are going to live happily ever after.”

So what did you think? What was your first reaction?! Look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, thoughts  – thanks. Click here for more short stories or here for more about the blog.

 

Pssst for all those who were busy partying over the weekend to drop in on my blog I got news😀 I had a blast and posted two more (unscheduled) short stories. Now it’s up to you to read and decide whether I shouldn’t have wasted my time or (importantly) yours. In my defense, they are really short – in fact for one of them the title is longer the story (well almost). Okay fine be that way…

The Wait for the Waiting Room

Hello All! Looking forward to a relaxing weekend? So am I! But like I said before it’s hot and in an attempt to keep my mind of the blistering heat, I tried to pen type a flash fiction (a story in 100 words or less) inspired by the photo below. Hope you like and will perhaps even participate! Details and links after you read mine😉

 

https://rochellewisofffields.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/jhc7.jpg?w=246&h=437
Photo credit: J Hardy Carroll


Word Count: 100 (not including the title)

The Wait for the Waiting Room

I shivered as I took my evening walk around the campus– home for me but hospital to most.

An auto stopped beside me. A middle-aged lady poked her head out and asked, “Where’s the patient registration counter?”

“That.” I pointed. “But it is closed now.”

“I know.” She smiled. “I have come to queue up for it.”

“But the counter will open at 8 am.”

“Yes but by 6 am the queue extends well beyond the gate of the hospital. If I join the queue by 3 am, I can be assured of a doctor’s appointment for my ailing husband.

 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers - a story in 100 words or less inspired by the above photo.Get writing or you could read all the other stories here.

 

 

 

 

Just 4 Fun #3

Here’s wishing everyone a super week ahead😀

 

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Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to have some fun too.