Brothers in Arms

stock photo, family, sibling, home, funny, kids, rivalry, patenthood

Photo from here


Brothers in Arms

Words 250

The only girl among three boys, I was mercilessly ragged and teased.

Their one stop entertainment channel.

Their unpaid servant.

Make me an omelet, one would say.

Coffee for me, another said.

Why me? Why always me? Make it yourself. I stamped my foot and threw a tantrum.

“Fine, I am off to tell Ma, that you went bike riding with…”

Okay fine! Thwarted, I stomp off in impotent fury. They double up laughing. I shake my fist at them. They laugh even harder.

I grow older, taller, and prettier. Besotted, I stare at myself – Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Snickers and muffled gasps from the window still haunt me. “Oooh isn’t she pretty – for a donkey?”

Skirt flying, I chase them around the neighborhood.

Mother catches me and thrashes me.

“Did you hear the poor lil donkey go heehaw heehaw?” They rub salt on my wounds.

They make me buy cricket gear with my Rakhi money. In return they allow me to fetch and hunt the ball from the undergrowth.

School and college bring distances and greener pastures.

I move on with my man, the love and light of my life.

All too soon, he showers me with curses, kicks and punches.

Sporting a black eye, I decline to go home for Rakhi.

I couldn’t face the boys’ howls of laughter.

They landed up to get their pound of flesh.

They whisked me back home even as he lay trussed up in a hospital bed.


Rakhi: An Indian annual festival wherein sisters of all ages tie a Rakhi (a decorative string) around the wrists of their brothers, while praying for his health and protection from all evil/mishaps. She in turn receives a gift from them and a promise to take the responsibility of her well-being.



Come Walk in My Shoes

A long short story exploring the differing viewpoints and journeys of  The Silent Generation (born between 1925 – 1945) and Gen Y (born between 1980 – 1995).

“Hello Kanika.”

“Namaste Lataji. So good of you to call.”

“It has been quite some time since we last spoke isn’t it?”

“Yes, I think almost two weeks now. Something or the other is always going on. Sometimes I really don’t think life is worth it.” Kanika’s voice broke.

“What’s the matter?” Lata was concerned. “You sound low? Is your health troubling you?”

“Old age is a curse Lataji.”

“What is it Kanika? Did someone say something? Your daughter-in-law…”

“Malati’s antics I am used to and I don’t expect much from her either. After all she is not of my blood. But when your own…” she broke down.

“Kanika! What happened? I am so sorry my friend. Don’t cry my dear. Keep faith. The Almighty will make everything right.”

“To tell the truth Lataji, I have lost faith in the Almighty. I don’t know why He is punishing me. What have I ever done to deserve this? Why doesn’t He call me? Like He did my husband?” Kanika’s sobs grew louder.

“Control yourself Kanika. Tell me what happened? Don’t keep it bottled up. Talking will help. And perhaps it’s not as bad as you are thinking?”

“What can I say Lataji? When your own family stabs you in the back nothing can take away the pain.”

“You are scaring me Kanika. Did someone hit you? Not…not your son?”

“I wish they had killed me. At least I would have been spared this grief.”

“What grief Kanika?”

“I feel ashamed to say it Lataji. No I cannot say it….”

“Is…is it about money?” Lata asked in hushed tones.

“Yes! Money is missing again from my account. They think I am old, I won’t notice but I am nobody’s fool. I ran the house, handled accounts everything for more than 50 years. I know when money is missing from my bank account. Not just one or two rupees but Rs 5000. ”

“Rs 5000! From your bank account?” Lata was shocked but she tried to soothe matters, “I am sure there must be some explanation, just enquire at the bank. Nobody can just walk into a bank and take out money from your account without your permission.”

“That’s the trouble Lataji. My son handles all bank work. And now I have an ATM card…”

“Oh! ATM? Sunil has the password I suppose?”

“Yes, he does. But it’s not him. I trust him. He has been handling my accounts for so many years now. Even when his Father was alive. Not one paisa unaccounted for.”

“So whom do you suspect?”

“Rishi.” Kanika choked.

“Your grandson?!” Lata was shocked. “Surely not? He is such a good boy.”

“Money can turn the head of anyone Lataji. And this is the new generation – no patience, no scruples, just instant gratification by hook or by crook.”

Lata sighed. “That’s true Kanika. I really wonder where these youngsters are going. They are so materialistic and self-centered. They cannot see anything beyond their own desires and needs.”

“You know I adore Rishi – If only he had asked me. He knows I would never refuse him anything. To steal…” she trailed off and took a shuddering breath. She heaved a big sigh. “I don’t know how to handle this delicate matter. Should I ignore it or should I talk to Sunil? Or confront Rishi?”

“Yes,” said Lata, “it is a very tricky issue. You can’t ignore it. Sunil needs to be told so that he can take corrective action before things go out of hand. Rishi is still young. Perhaps he has a valid reason…”

“What valid reason could he have to steal? He has a good job, and these days they pay so well that the money goes to their head. Ultimately nothing is enough. They just want more – a new phone, a new laptop, branded shoes, bike…”

“I think you should talk it over with Sunil. Your son is a good steady man, he will sort it out with Rishi…”

“I am sure Sunil will not mind but Malati will throw a fit if I dare to point a finger to her beloved son. She will make it impossible for me to stay in this house…”

“But you can’t ignore the matter can you? Was the money withdrawn via the ATM or by check?”

“I am not sure. I think by check.”

“Why don’t you enquire at the bank?”

“Yes but then I might be opening Pandora’s box…”

“Find out from the bank. Then we can take a decision what to do. Let’s meet at the temple on Tuesday.”

“That will be nice.” Kanika cheered up. “It was good talking to you Lataji.”

“Same here Kanika. Now, promise me you will go to the bank?”

“You’re right, I should get to the bottom of the matter. I will go to the bank right away.”

“Good girl!”

Girl! That never failed to make Kanika laugh. Lata joined her.

Revived after the chat with her long time friend and neighbor, Kanika dressed swiftly and collected her bank papers. But instead of the bank, she landed up in the hospital – with a broken leg. In her rush to leave, she was unmindful of her step and the floor was wet.

“Hello Dadi.” Rishi dumped his bag on the chair at the hospital. “How are you?”

Hello. Humph. How would I be with a broken leg lying in a hospital bed at the mercy of all you people? Waiting for somebody to come and spare a few moments for the old witch who doesn’t have the good sense to die?”

“Oh please Dadi give me a break will you? I don’t have time for all this…”

“What do you have time for? Partying? Gaming? Drugs? That you have time for don’t you? But time to sit by the side of your grandmother who is on her way out…”

“Just a sec Dadi,” Rishi turned away as his phone beeped, “Hello? Hi…”

Kanika fumed at the interruption. “Hello. Hi. What is this world coming to? No respect for tradition and culture. Busy with their superficial lives, drowning in materialism no time for the finer things in life.” She raised her eyes heavenwards. “Hey Gopal, why do you insist upon torturing me like this? Why this bias? Why this pain? At least tell me my faults so that I can repent for them? Call me to you. Please. I have had enough of this selfish lonely world. Call me to you my lord Gopal.” A tear slipped down her corner of her eye. With a weary sigh she put a hand over her eyes.

Rishi wandered back inside. He was still on the phone. “No. The client told me… okay, but he specifically told me to…but that’s not my fault!” There was a long pause and Kanika peeped out from under her hand. Rishi’s face was black with rage. She sat up and held her breath. He was going to throw one of his infamous tantrums.

“Rishi…” Kanika held out a hand as if to physically stop him from blowing his top.

“Yes Nitin. Sorry Nitin. Yes I will take care of it.” He said in an even tone.

Rishi disconnected the phone and paced the hospital room, clenching and unclenching his fists, muttering under his breath. He kicked a chair in his path and overturned it. Straightening it he went and stood in front of the AC.

“You’ll catch a chill Rishi.” Kanika cautioned but he ignored her.

Kanika wondered what had happened and who was that on the phone. His boss? But wouldn’t he have called him Sir? Or didn’t they do that any more? But she was impressed with the restraint Rishi had shown while dealing with Nitin. The way he behaved at home, she didn’t think he had it in him to meekly accept his culpability especially when it appeared it wasn’t his fault.

Rishi fumbled with his phone for a while and then dialed. “Hello Mr Verma. Rishi here. I am really sorry about…” he walked out of the hospital room.

“Did he come here to talk on the phone or what?” grumbled Kanika. She couldn’t help feeling concerned – Rishi apologizing! She sat staring at the door until he returned, still on the phone.

“Yes one cheese n chicken pizza and one coke. Dadi do you want anything?”

“Four o’clock! Is this anytime to eat?” Kanika countered.

“Dadi do you want anything?” He insisted.

“No.” She pressed her lips but the urge was too strong and she had been lecturing for too long. “This new generation has gone to the dogs. The way they throw money around is downright criminal. No wonder they have to resort to illegal means to supplement their income.” She said pointedly but it didn’t seem to register with Rishi. “That is why is country is steeped in corruption. Materialism. No strength of character to tolerate the slightest bit of inconvenience.”

“Dadi please!” Rishi continued to tap on his laptop.

“Humph.” She turned her head and resolutely looked away.

“Dadi would you like to have some pizza?” He offered when the order arrived.

“Sacrilege! Don’t you have any sense but to offer me non-vegetarian food?!” Kanika turned all possible shades of blue and purple.

“Sorry Dadi. Have some Coke. I know you like that.” He poured out some for her and offered it to her. She turned her head away. Rishi kept it on the table by her bed.Rishi put his phone on charging and settled down to eat.

“Eat slowly son!” Kanika couldn’t help cautioning. “Nobody is going to take it away from you.”

“The phone rang. “Yes Ma?” he put in on speaker.

“Where are you?”

“With Dadi. On speaker phone.” He warned casting a glance at his grandmother.

“Why didn’t you inform me that you had reached? I have been so worried.”

“I was busy.”

“You are always busy. Are you eating?”


“What are you eating?”


“Why pizza? What happened to the lunch I packed you?”

“It’s lying in office. I have been out in the field since morning.”

“You haven’t eaten anything since 7 am?”

“Where’s the time or the scope? When are you coming Mom?”

“I don’t know. Let me see, perhaps around 7 pm? That way I can get dinner for your Dadi as well and save on a trip.”

“I don’t want to have dinner at 7 pm! Is that any time for dinner?” Kanika interrupted.

“Dadi you can have it later…”

“It will get cold.” Kanika pursed her lips.

Rishi sighed. “But Ma, I have to leave by 7 pm. Can you tell Father to come straight to the hospital from work? Then you can come with the dinner later?”

“No!” Dadi interrupted, “Sunil has a lot on his plate. After office he has to go to the railway booking counter and cancel my train ticket…”

“I already did that Dadi,” Rishi held up his phone.

“Oh!” Kanika was silenced.

“Please Ma.” Rishi insisted.


“Thanks Ma.” He disconnected the phone.

“What’s so important at 8 pm that you have to inconvenience everyone?” Kanika asked.

“I have a party.”

“Party! That’s right of course. Your Granny is in the hospital and you have to go partying.”


“Enough.” Dadi raised her hand. “That’s all the new generation thinks of – partying, drinking and blowing up money. And getting hooked up with unsuitable girls. Learn something from your father. He worked hard and came straight back home. In fact, he still does. While you,” she shook her head, “have no sense of responsibility or priority. Instead of helping out while your poor granny is ill and hospitalized…” Kanika trailed off.

Rishi had walked out of the room.

Kanika felt awful. Tears rolled down her cheek. How could her dearest little Rishi, her joy, her pride, her raison d’etre do this – steal from his granny? If only you had asked son, if only, she cried silently.

“Namaste Dadiji.” Muniya, their daily help, stood there wringing her hands. “Forgive me Dadiji. It’s entirely my fault Dadiji that you broke your leg. Bhabhi has told me so many times to make sure the floor is dry but…” she sniffed.

“Don’t cry Muniya.” Kanika consoled her. “It was meant to be. It is the will of Gopalji to punish me. I must have done something wrong sometime. You are but a tool in His plans.”

Muniya sniffed and wiped her face on the edge of her sari. “What do you need to be punished for? You have never done an unkind act in your life. You have been so kind to me. If you hadn’t loaned me the money for my son’s treatment…”

“Loaned you money?” Kanika frowned.

“Yes Dadiji. Don’t you remember? Last month Pappu fell ill and I needed money, you gave me a check of Rs 5000 for his tests and medicines?”

“Oh!” A load rolled of Kanika’s heart. She could have danced but for her broken leg. Perhaps even on one leg. She was so happy. Her darling Rishi was blameless! He wasn’t a thief. You did right to punish me Gopal, she sent up a prayer of thanks, and for sending Muniya to set my suspicious senile mind right.

Kanika reached out to sip at the Coke.

“Rishi beta sit down and talk to your Dadi,” she coaxed wishing she could hold him in her arms and mutter apologies. How could she have suspected her beloved grandson?

“Later Dadi. I have a lot of work.” Rishi didn’t even look up.

“What work? Just playing on your phone!” Eager to make amends, Kanika lashed out at being thwarted. “Either listening to music, seeing movies or chatting with your friends. No time for your old granny, who knows how much time I have left on this earth?”

“Oh please Dadi,” Rishi’s eyes were glued to his phone as his fingers moved effortlessly over it. “You have been saying that since my childhood.”

“Nonsense! What do you remember of your childhood?”

“Many things. Some are clear vivid images – like me begging you to switch off the TV and tell me a story. And you batting me away eyes glued to the TV.”

“Are you taking revenge for that?”

Rishi laughed and shrugged. “Perhaps. Who knows?” He got up and switched on the TV. He put the remote by her side. “Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“Any pain? Discomfort?”

She shrugged. “Nothing I can’t bear. Pain and discomfort have been a part of my life as far as I can remember.”

“Oh Dadi!” Exasperated Rishi rolled his eyes. “Why does everything have to be epic tragedy?”

“Humph.” She grunted.

He settled her comfortably. “Okay?”

“As okay as is possible…” she began.

“Oh Dadi, you are impossible!” He laughed.

“You won’t understand now. You’ll understand when you are my age…”

“And Dadi, you don’t know how it is…”

“Yes, yes, I don’t know anything. My hair turned grey by just sitting in the sun. Only you know everything!”

“Uff Dadi please.” Rishi buried himself in his laptop.

Kanika was left alone with her thoughts, until Sunil came.


“Son! I am so glad you have come.” Kanika cheered up. “This boy of yours is impossible.” She vented. “Just because he wants to party you didn’t get any chance to go home, take some rest before coming. It’s all his mother’s fault for not bringing him up properly.”

“Oh great!” Rishi threw up his hands. “Have fun Father. I am off.” He began stuffing his bag.”

“Wait Rishi. Where are you going? What is this party? Is that more important than your family?”

“It’s part of my job profile Father.”

“Job? Which job demands partying and drinking?” Sunil retorted.

“You want to know about my party?” Rishi snapped. “You think I want to go to this party? That I am going to there to eat, drink, and be merry? You are wrong. I have to first go home. Freshen up and change. Take the train back to the party venue to join my boss and his wife. They want to drink. But they are too stingy to hire a cab or a driver. So I will have to drive them back home after they get drunk. Which means I cannot drink. If I am lucky I will be offered dinner and catch the last train. If not, there’s no saying what transportation will be available at that time or when I will reach home. This is my party. Not drugs drinks and girls like Dadi imagines.”

“Mind your tone Rishi!” Sunil tried to regain the upper hand.

“Let it be Sunil,” Kanika restrained her son, “He is right. I have forgotten how it is to be his age. Worse, I have little or no understanding of the changed dynamics and pressures of the modern world.” She held out her arms. “I am sorry Rishi.”


Thank you for reading, look forward to your comments and constructive criticisms – was it too long (yes it was!) boring (do tell), confusing, anything I should have done or not done?


The Scent of Love

Dayaram entered the office and his step faltered.

A new girl sat at the reception.

“Belaji?” he mumbled unable to stop himself.

“Good morning!” The receptionist sang out as she jumped up from her seat. “Myself Geeta, how may I help you?”

Dayaram shied away but he had to know. “Where is Belaji?”

“She’s getting married…”

Dayaram tottered away to his seat.


An alien sensation enveloped Dayaram – acid, he wondered or was it a heart attack? Wasn’t he too young? Was…was this what they called heart broken? How easily he had said it didn’t matter…but how would he live the rest of his life with this pain, this agonizing crushing pain as if a giant hand had slid into his chest and was squeezing his heart. He couldn’t breathe…

“Daya Babu, are you alright?” The office boy stood at his desk with a sheaf of papers.

Beads of sweat dotted his brow. Dayaram nodded and waved him away. He took deep breaths to calm himself.

He pulled a file and stared at the neat orderly row of numbers.

It had all begun 7 months, 21 days and 13 hours 17 minutes ago.

That day, unlike other days, Dayaram had arrived at the office a little late because he had been to the bank for some official work.

As was his habit, as soon as he entered he touched the feet of Goddess Lakshmi on the calendar that hung by the doorway. The calendar itself was a decade old but nobody dared remove it – after all she was the Goddess of Wealth. Dayaram himself was staunch devotee of Hanumanji and kept a fast every Tuesday, but Devi Lakshmi was hard to ignore. Besides, as head clerk of the Accounts Division, his job was all about money and her blessings were of paramount importance.

Even as he paid his daily obeisance, he could sense something was different in office. He had been coming to this office for the past fifteen years and hard work, perseverance and a love for numbers had made him a valued and reliable member of the company.

His honesty, sincerity and dedication were legendary and all, including the CEO were in awe of his meticulous work. If Daya Babu had passed a bill, a balance sheet, a file, it became God’s gospel – unchallengeable. He was the perfect employee who lived for work and had no time for office chitchat or politics. But he did have a quirk he was a stickler for first-come first-serve policy. The files, bills, vouchers were all handled as and when they were received and not in order of priority – not even if it meant rising rates, irate customers or delayed payments.

No amount of cajoling or pleading worked. He would just stare at the offending file and get back to the pile of files on his desk. Over the years, after many an altercation and brainstorming sessions, he had grudgingly begun to accept files, which had the CEO’s initials with his distinctive scribble “Daya babu plz expedite”.

He would keep these files in a separate pile and deal with them on his time after office hours no matter how late that made him.

The others shook their heads and laughed at him.

“Crazy fellow. No wonder he is still unmarried,” said one.

“I thought his wife had left him?”

“How old is he?”

“He’s thirty-three.”

“Really? He looks so much older.”

Dayaram did look forty plus but that was mostly because of the air of gravity that he wore like a thick mantle and shed only on rare occasions and never in office. The responsibility of providing for his family had fallen on him when he was still in school. A stroke left his father paralyzed. With his father out of commission and four younger siblings to take care of, Dayaram had had to grow up overnight.

He had joined this office as a peon and worked his way up. He had taken his responsibility as head of the family seriously and uncomplainingly unquestioningly earned money to feed his family, school his brothers and marry off his sisters.

The entire office laughed at his penny-pinching ways but he didn’t care. They didn’t know his story and neither did he want to share. He only did what had to be done – did the Sun ever ask why he had to rise everyday? Did he care if people cursed him or prayed to him? No. He did what he was meant to do. Rise and shine – come summer, winter and rain. If someone or something came in front, so be it, He would still rise and shine.

Daya Babu took inspiration from the Sun and drew strength from Hanumanji.

Every morning he would wake up at the crack of dawn and do the Suryanamaskar 32 times and be in office by eight-forty five am. He had a fixed routine that he liked to follow – fifteen minutes grace period to cool off, after a one and a half hour journey by bus and on foot. He would reverentially extract one marigold from his shirt pocket and offer it to the bronze idol of Hanumanji before bowing with folded hands. He had a deal with the flower boy at the temple, ten rupees a month for one marigold for each weekday. Dayaram splurged another ten rupees on Tuesdays for prasad, which he distributed in the office. Rather, he would keep it by the side of his table and his colleagues would feel free to take some and offer a greeting in return. Dayaram would nod in return without looking up from his precious files.

He would take a 10 min break for tea at 11 and 3 pm when the canteen boy arrived with the tea. He would sip the sweet tea with a biscuit from his personal store – one for the morning and one for the afternoon. He would leave his seat at dot one and have his lunch in the Government sponsored Meals on Wheels that stood at a distance from the office. The food wasn’t too great, but it was fresh and cheap. During summers when it was too hot to stand outside, he would carry a tiffin box, collect it and go back to his seat to have it and indulge in a bit of a siesta until the clock struck two. And it was back to work until six pm or later.

And that is how his life had been for the past seven years since he had joined the accounts department. Every morning when he came to office he bowed his head in gratefulness and reverence – for this was his temple, his sanctuary. He had a seat of his own and had even graduated from an office hall with a cooler to an air conditioned hall. At one time his job was in the field delivering collecting, queuing, or walking in the blistering heat just to save the bus fare. And study by night, sleep out in the open, live on the mercy of strangers saving every paisa to send home for his father’s treatment, his sisters’ wedding, brothers’ education. Those days had been the really tough ones even though he hadn’t had time to think so then – he was too busy coping. But now that the worst  was over – his sisters married, a brother on his new job and even father was better, he had nightmares. Sometimes he woke up sweating thinking that he had been just dreaming of his office cubicle, his own desk, chair.

After many years he was finally in a comfortable position and wanted nothing more –  What more could he ask for?

“Get married Daya, I worry about you. All alone…” his mother had taken to saying of late and Dayaram was running out of excuses.

“Don’t worry Mother. I am comfortable and happy. Why do you want to take away my peace?”

“I want you to have a family of your own.”

“You all are my family Mother.”

“You need a wife to take care of you, cook for you…”

“I can cook for myself. She will be more of a headache than an asset.”

“I want a grandchild.”

“Get Sakharam married.”

“He can’t marry before you!”

“Says which law? If you want I will look for a suitable bride for her…”

“Better you look for one for yourself!”

“Over my dead body!”

“Daya!” His mother burst into tears. Daya exerted himself to soothe her and calm her but he stood his ground. He wasn’t going to get married ever.

His mother was equally adamant. If he wasn’t going to marry, neither would his brothers.

And that was that – a stalemate as neither party was willing to blink.

Fate heaved a sigh and sent a gentle waft his way.

He frowned.

What was that fragrance? It took him back to his school days with his mother humming a song as she clipped a gajra on her hair. He took a deep breath – who in the office…?

“Namaste. May I help you?”

“Who are you?” Offended he shot back.

“I am Bela, the new receptionist.”

Dayaram walked inside without bothering to respond to her. Someone would tell her who he was. Besides, as the receptionist, it was her job to find out who was who, he sniffed.

“Good evening Dayaji.” She chirped when he left for the evening.

Showing off, he grumbled to himself, that she knew who he was and that she wasn’t a slacker like him, who came late to office and left early.

“I have to give these cheques to the Chief at his home,” he snapped.

Her smile flickered but she held on to it. “Very good Sir.”

He grunted annoyed with himself. What was the need to justify to her, a newcomer? Who was she? Oh what did it matter, his and her paths were different. They needn’t meet ever. He would be in office before her and leave after her. Today was an exception, he told himself firmly and put her out of his mind.

Or so he thought.

The entire night, the scent of mogra haunted him. How could one dream about scents? And why did he? She didn’t have much to her credit – dusky glowing skin, large kohl lined eyes, a long plait with the bunch of mogras peeking out, a mole on the upper corner of her lip…stop it! He told himself sternly.

When had he noticed so much about her? And why her? There were other girls in the office, they laughed and giggled whenever he passed them by but he barely noticed them. What was so special about her?

Dayaram sneaked into office half an hour before his usual time. He slid into his seat and soaked in the silence and the familiar musty smell of files. He felt safe as if he had crawled into his mother’s lap. He even looked up to greet a colleague or two as they passed by his table.

Dayaram was neck deep in numbers when his breath faltered. Head still bent over his file, he froze, he gripped his pencil tightly and the numbers blurred.

What if she wished him? He wouldn’t look up. He would nod distantly. Like he did the others.


“Namaste Dayaji.”

Daya’s breath left him. Almost helplessly, he looked up and of their own will his lips moved and he echoed, “Namaste Belaji.”

She rewarded him with a smile that stretched ear to ear, crinkled her eyes and even her shiny button nose. He stared bemusedly until she swished away her thick black plait swaying gently.

Dayaram put down his pencil. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair and replayed the ultra-short clip over and over again. His heart thudded, he was back in his village running through the yellow mustard fields the wind blowing through his hair until he was flying high, high…

“Dayaramji? Is everything okay?” It was Sukrit, the office manager.

“Y…yes.” He straightened. “Just a bit tired, didn’t sleep well,” he said shortly.

“Sorry to disturb you but could you please do this file urgently?” Sukrit was close to begging, “Please it is very urgent. The Chief is out of station otherwise I would have had it initialled, please…”

“Okay.” Dayaram took the file. “I’ll do it.”

Sukrit stared.

“I wonder what’s wrong with Dayaji,” he mused over a cup of tea with his colleagues, “he broke his own rule! He took the file. I was prepared to fight tooth and nail just to allow me to keep the file on his desk. But he smiled and tokk the file!”

“I am sure this is a new delaying tactic. He’ll just sit on the file.”

“While I get an earful from both the Chief and the customer.” Sukrit fretted.

But by evening, the file was on Sukrit’s table. And he couldn’t even say thank you for Daya Babu had left for the day. Another first! He must be coming down with something serious.

Dayaram was restless. He had to meet her once more, speak to her, perhaps look at her…he flushed.

At the ripe old age of 33 he was turning into a pervert.

He left without wishing her and spent a miserable night cursing himself.

What on earth was wrong with him? Where was the unruffled placidity that had been his constant companion and strength in times of his greatest challenges. Was he losing it in his dotage? But didn’t people become steadier as they aged? He tossed and turned the whole night unable to sleep, the scent of jasmine wafted in from the open window, teasing him, disturbing him, inciting him…

Quite at his wits end, Dayaram upped this exercise regimen, went to the temple, tried meditating in an attempt to regain control over himself. It was a slow, uphill task – one step forward and two steps backwards.

He avoided her in the office but she always came by his desk to wish him, as she did the others. Nothing special. But she was the only girl in his office who was bold enough to help herself to the prasad on Tuesdays.

“I am a devotee of Sri Krishna,” she confessed, “but I love this prasad.”

He began getting a little extra packed separately for her, which he would slide towards her as she came by his seat.

Then one day, she requested him to help her with her tax, and on anohter, requested his advice regarding her investments. Dayaram went deeper and deeper into the chakravyuh. And like Abhimanyu he entered the complex tangled web easily enough but lost his way out.

Unlike Abhimanyu, Dayaram was oblivious to his entrapment and was in fact loving it. He lost his air of gravity, shrugged of the invisible burden that weighed him down, he looked younger, fresher.

Fate seemed to be pleased with the revised version of Dayaram. She laughed with glee and cooked up ways to throw them together. There was a new circular to transcribe physical files into electronic files. He was asked to take the help of Bela in extracting and computing the expenditure data. She spent longer times at his desk, leaning over his shoulder, fiddling with her dupatta, worrying her nail and sometimes throwing back her head to laugh at her own stupidity.

He could only stare at her in wonder. How could anyone laugh at oneself? How could anyone not mind making a fool of oneself?

He stopped avoiding her. He made excuses to pass by her table – the photocopier machine, the washroom, drinking water, in search of the elusive mobile signal, his creativity blossomed. He changed the angle of his chair even though he got a crick in the neck. His colleagues snickered and although nobody dared say anything to the man himself, the girls teased Bela no end.

She began noticing his visits, his shuffling even steps, the way it faltered by her seat. She would continue to type diligently with a small smile on her lips and her heart rate would speed up just the tiniest bit.

There is no saying how long this gentle romance would have continued for one day, Bela dropped by Dayaram’s seat.

“I finished typing the 1998 records.”

“Give it to Ramesh to proof read.” He didn’t look up. “And take this file and correct the typos. So many errors this time. You need to pay more attention…”

“I…I…my engagement has been fixed.”

He looked up. The pencil slipped from his fingers.

He blinked.

“Cong…” he cleared his throat, “Congratulations. I hope you will be very happy.”

She drew in a sharp breath as if he had thrust a knife into her. She turned on her heel and went back to her seat.

After about an hour or so, Dayaram came to her seat carrying a file.

He shifted from one foot to the other.

He handed the file to her. “You forgot this.”

“You came to give this?”


“You could have called me.”

“I thought I would stretch my legs.”

“You wanted to stretch your legs?”

“Yes. Why?”

“There’s nothing else?”

“What else could be there?”

“I thought you came to ask about my…”

“Your what?”

“M…my wedding.”

“What is there to ask?”




He walked away but not before he heard her sniff.

He felt slow and dull. He hadnt anticipated this. He had never given future a thought. He had been too exhilarated from soaring on the clouds living in the present moment, her presence, her fragrance, her smile.

But she wasn’t smiling now.

And she seemed to be angry with him.

Why was she angry with him? What did she want from him? What could he have to say to her? Had he not done the right thing and congratulated her?

What did she want from him?

The question haunted him day and night. He wrestled with it like he would when his numbers wouldn’t tally. He went over and over the question but it just didn’t add up.

“Why are you angry with me?” He confronted her.

“Why would I be angry with you? What right do I have to be angry with you?”

He shook his head bewildered. “I don’t know. But I know you are angry with me. I can feel it.”

Feel? Don’t make me laugh.” She walked away.

He wrestled some more with his feelings but drew a blank.

“I don’t understand. What do you want from me?” He went back to her.

“What do you want?”

“Me?” He was taken aback. This question had never ever come up in his life. “What do I want?” He looked lost and confused.

Bela sighed. “Yes. What do you want?”

“What I want doesn’t matter.” He reported back to her the next morning.

“But the question is what do you want?” She insisted.

“I don’t matter.”

“Then what matters?”

He shrugged. “Others?”

“W…who others?”

“Everyone.” He waved his hand vaguely.

“Am I included in that?”

Unable to breathe, he could only stare at her.

“Well? Do I matter?”

His throat closed up choking him. Sweat broke out on his brow. This was something terribly important he could make that much out. But what exactly it was eluded him. He had to get to the bottom of it.

“W…what about you matters?” He managed to say.

“T…that…that I,” she faltered but held his eyes, “that I am getting married.”

He was silent.

“To another.”

Rage engulfed him. He wanted to smash everything in sight. He wanted to strangle her. He felt like running to the terrace and jumping off.

He walked to his seat.

She was getting married to another.

And he could do nothing but watch in dreadful silence.

His feet would drag as he passed her seat. She no longer wore the flowers in her hair nor did she wish him good morning. He wished he could say them but the words stuck in his throat.

Despair settled over him like the thick blanket of smog after Diwali. He was suffocating and the clock was ticking. Each day he lived in dread of seeing her empty seat. And each day he saw her sitting, was as if his death sentence had been commuted at the last minute.

But today the axe had fallen.

Her seat was empty.

She was gone and his life would never be the same again. A searing anguish ripped through his soul. Had he felt this bad when his world had come crashing down when he was barely out of his teens? He didn’t think so. His tender years would not have been able to take this raw bleeding gaping gash that didn’t let him sleep or work. Work which had been his panacea was abhorrent to him – the numbers mocked him and slipped away from his grasp. He messed up the accounts.

“Daya Babu, you are overworked.” The Chief had been apprised of the real situation. “Take a holiday. Go home. Meet your family.”

Dayaram looked at his boss with something akin to hope. Meet his family. His mother. She would know what to do with him. She would take care of him. He couldn’t wait to see her. It had been five years since he had gone home. The money was better utilized in paying off the debts incurred for his sister’s wedding.

“Amma…” He choked up.

His mother shed tears of joy and sorrow. “Look at you my son! So thin! Don’t you eat? Are you not well?”

“I am fine Amma.” But he was listless and dull. He only perked up when his sister put her toddler in his lap. He sat for hours playing with her.

“It’s decided Daya,” his mother was firm, “you are getting married. Your Uncle even has a girl in mind. Very…”

“Amma please! You know I don’t want to get married. I barely sustain myself. How will sustain a family?”

“By God’s grace, we have enough for our needs. Sakharam has a job at the post office and God willing Munna will start earning soon. You can stop sending money to us. It is time you thought of your own family.”

“But you are my family Amma.”

“I don’t want any arguments. I have decided you are getting married and that’s it.”

“Amma, listen to me…”

“No you listen to me. You are getting married otherwise you arent going back to the city.”

“Fine I won’t go back to the city. I’ll just sit at home and eat home-cooked food.”

“You will see my dead face if you don’t get married.”

There wasn’t much to be said after that.

If only he hadnt come home! How could he marry? What about Bela?

What about her? She’s already married to another.

But I couldn’t marry anyone else.

Fine then see your mother die.

Dayaram was the most morose groom ever. He refused to cooperate. Not that it mattered. He was anointed with turmeric, bathed, dressed and led to the mandap for the wedding. He exchanged garlands with the bride, went through the motions as directed by the pundit and ended with the seven circambulations around the holy fire.

And he was married.

But he was also free.

Free from his mother’s blackmailing tactics. He had been an obedient son and done as she wished.

Now he would do his duty as a responsible son and leave his wife behind to serve his family.

That would serve Amma right for forcing his hand.

But before that he had to bypass the obligatory first night rituals.

He got drunk and passed out on the nuptial bed decorated with marigold and rose petals.

Dayaram managed a peaceful night but the morning brought no respite. If anything it was worse than before – his heart was as sore and resentful as ever only now it was compounded by a massive headache.

His sisters fussed over him and scolded him. “What made you drink? That too on your wedding night? What will Bhabhi think?”

He couldn’t care less and the less she thought about him the better it was for his peace of him. He snarled at his sisters.

They left him to sleep off his hangover.

With no alcohol to deaden his senses he thrashed and tossed about on the bed, groaning and moaning as the scent of jasmine assualted his senses. Would he never escape? Would he never forget?

“Bela!” He called out in anguish.

“I am here.” Her voice washed over him like a soothing gush of cool water. He never wanted to wake up from this dream.

“Bela?” He reached out blindly.

A soft small hand slipped into his. He gripped it tightly. She moaned. He sat up and stared.

Bela was rubbing her hands.

“You are here!” he said stupidly. “You’re married!”

“Yes.” She said simply.

“What are you doing here?” He hurriedly got up from the bed. “What will about your husband?”

“What about him?”

“What will he say?”

“Ask him yourself.” She said coyly.

Dayaram back away. “He’s here!”


He followed the direction of her finger.


Bela came up beside him and looked at him through the mirror. “You may not matter to you, but you matter to me.”

Dayaram gave up trying to make sense of it. He did what he had been yearning to do since the day he had met her. He buried his face in the white bunch of jasmine nestling on the base of her neck.


A short story with a local flavor inspired by O. Henry’s  The Romance of a Busy Broker as described in Story Club #11.

Thanks for reading and go on, say it!




The Inheritance

“Ann, why didn’t you tell me about the inheritance?” Polly asked.

Ann started. “How do you know?” she asked warily. “Did you read the letter?”

“No I didn’t. You know I don’t much care for reading and writing. Tidger told me. He read the letter by mistake.”


“Ann, now that you are an heiress, you better keep your wits about you,” Polly cautioned her elder widowed sister.

“What do you mean?” Ann was bewildered.

“Ah Ann, ever the fool. Didn’t you notice the doddering fools Wigget and Miller praising you to the skies?”

Ann pinked. “Oh I thought they were being sweet.”

“You’ve been here for the past 6 months and all of a sudden they became sweet? It’s the inheritance, mark my words.”

“Oh Polly,” Ann wrung her hands, “You are the clever one. Tell me what should I do? I don’t like either of them but nobody else will marry me at this age.”

“Humph!” snorted Polly, “I wouldn’t be surprised if my own Tidger wouldn’t marry you himself.”

“Polly!” Ann gasped scandalized, “Do you know what you are saying?”

“Of course I know.” Polly said. “I know my Tidger. He has a weakness for money. Besides, he’s worried about the mortgage on the…”

“But that doesn’t mean…”

“It doesn’t mean, but it could, is all I am saying. And now that the children have flown the nest, we don’t have much in common.”

“Oh Polly aren’t you happy in your marriage?”

“Now don’t be a romantic fool Ann.” Polly briskly set about cleaning up her tiny makeshift kitchen. “Does anyone get married for happiness’ sake?”

“Then why get married?”

“Women get married to have children and stability. Men get married to get an unpaid servant and nurse for life.” Polly attacked the dishes with vigor.


“Tell me Ann, were you happy in your marriage?”

“It was alright.” Ann crossed herself. “May his soul rest in peace.”

“Do you miss him?”

Ann was silent. “Not really.” She said at last. “But I do wish we had a house of our own. That I was independent…”

“Well with your inheritance you could easily set up house by yourself.”

“But that would be so lonely. What would I do alone?”

“I…I could join you.”

“That would be lovely Polly! Will Tidger agree?”

“He doesn’t need to.”


“I am baking his favorite cake today.” Polly held up a bottle. “With a special flavor.”


Polly shrugged. “He’s outlived his usefulness. He’s more of a bother and a pain to be with. I thought I would send him to a happier place.”

“What on earth is the matter with you Polly?”

“You are a fine one to talk Ann,” Polly rounded on her, “Making sheep eyes at my husband.”

“How dare you Polly!”

“Oh I dare alright. Do you think I am blind? You always had a soft spot my Tidger didn’t you? And now the money is making him lean towards you.”

“You are crazy Polly.”

“No I am not. He’s always been a sleep talker. And these days all he says are Ann and mutter about ways to bump me off.” She held up the bottle. “I had bought this poison for you. But since the money I thought it better to get rid of him. After all you are my sister.”

“Polly please…”

“Don’t worry Ann, you and I will get along well together. Won’t we?”

Ann paled. She wrung her hands but wilted under Polly’s unblinking glare. She nodded.

“Good.” Polly sounded strange and her eyes glittered dangerously.

“You are looking funny Polly. Your blood pressure seems to have shot up. You need to rest. Let me make dinner…”

“No! I am baking the cake.”

“Okay after you bake the cake,” Ann said soothingly, “you go and rest. Let me take care of the dinner, while I think how best to handle this. And you know I love cooking.”

Polly expertly sifted the floor, broke the eggs, crushed the sugar, emptied the bottle and slid the cake batter into the oven.

“Done!” Polly dusted her hands and slipped off her apron. “I am going. You think all you like, but remember that cake is for my Tidger.” She sniffled. “He was a good man. Until you and your money came along.” With a sob she left the kitchen.

Ann heaved a heavy sigh. But there was dinner to be made. She worked swiftly around the kitchen and didn’t pause until she had set the table to her satisfaction.

“Polly,” she walked up to her room, “It’s all set Polly. And I have decided to accept Miller’s invitation for dinner. That way I will be out of the way and you can claim that Tidger had a heart attack.”

“Good thinking.” Polly approved of the plan. Besides, she couldn’t wait to see Tidger’s face as Ann left for a date right under his nose. Oh how she would rub it in.

He would die of a heart attack, she chortled to herself.

Bump her off would he? She would show him – who would bump off whom.

Ann and Miller were enjoying a quiet dinner when the concierge came and interrupted them. He spoke in a low whisper to Miller.

“Ann, my dear,” Miller laid his hand on hers, “We have to go.”

Ann stared at him and paled. “What’s the matter?”

“Come let’s go.” He was gentle with her as he led her out of the restaurant.

The scene at home was one of utter chaos. The dinner Ann had labored over, lay spattered all over the floor. Alongside it, Polly lay senseless while Tidger was weeping softly in one corner.

“What happened?” It was the doctor.

Tidger wiped his face and attempted to gather himself. “I…I don’t know doctor. We were having dinner. She had finished eating and I was almost done. She got up to get the cake and appeared to get dizzy. She gave a gasp and grabbed the tablecloth before keeling over. She…” he choked, “she hasn’t moved since then.”

“ You ate the same thing?” The Inspector peered at the dishes. “What was in this empty bowl?” He sniffed suspiciously at it.

“Soup. I finished it.”

“What soup?

Tidger shrugged. “Don’t know but it was real tasty.”

“The bowl looks clean, as if it has been been washed.” He pinned Tidger with his eyes, who flushed and blustered, “Look here Inspector…”

“It was clear soup Inspector,” Ann controlled her sobs, “I…I helped her make it.”

“She was fine before that?” The doctor interrupted.

“Yes. She was perfectly fine. She cooked dinner. She even made my favorite cake.” Tidger paused. “She did complain of uneasiness once or twice.”

“Hmm, looks like she had a heart attack.” The doctor stood up. “She did have high blood pressure and diabetes.”

“My poor Polly. What will happen to me now?”

Ann was too busy crying in Miller’s arms to console Tidger.

She didn’t even speak to him at Polly’s funeral. She moved out of his house the same day.

It was only months later, after the doctor had declared Polly’s death to be due to natural causes and police had given Tidger a clean chit that Ann met Tidger at a common friend’s house.

“How are you?” She looked at him critically. “You’ve lost weight.”

He gave a tired smile. “I am not much of a cook. And,” he coughed, “I haven’t been sleeping too well either.”

“Come over for dinner tomorrow. Miller, you come too. Around 7.30 pm?”

They nodded.

Tidger was early.

“How’s the paperwork for the inheritance progressing?” Ann asked as she cut him a piece of his favorite cake.

He bit into it and closed his eyes in bliss. “Almost done.” He mumbled indistinctly through a full mouth. “Shouldn’t take more than a month now.”

“Good. Poor Polly must be turning in her grave to know that she was the one who got the inheritance not me.”

Tidger grinned. “Aren’t I smart?”

“Only in showing me the letter first. You shouldn’t have washed the soup bowl.”

“I thought there could be traces of the poison.”

“They wouldn’t have been able to detect it.” Ann was confident.

“I am sorry.” He deferred to her greater wisdom. “What next?”

The doorbell rang.

Ann rewarded him with a kiss. “Now it’s time for you to woo me. Make it nice and slow.”

She went to let Miller in.

Just enough delay to raise suspicion but not confirm it.

As always, patience was the key to success.


A/N This story is inspired by WW Jacobs short story A Golden Venture and linked to Story Club # 10

So what do you think? Plausible? Any loopholes? Doubts? Loose ends? Go on say it, I am sure you found something!

The Test

The air was thick with excitement and stifled giggles. The prospective groom, Ranjit had arrived with his family to see Juhi, the eldest daughter of the house.

“He’s so handsome!” gushed her friends as they peered from the doorway and ran back to report to Juhi who sat demurely inside, waiting to be summoned.

Juhi adjusted her flowing dupatta and flicked back her long plait. “And he is a doctor,” she couldn’t help boasting.

“Doctor, my foot,” sneered Reeta, “he’s just a compounder. All he does is dispense medicines.”

“Rubbish!” Juhi’s sister was up in arms, “He is a doctor. We went to his clinic. There was a huge queue of patients.”

“He may call himself a doctor but I know the truth.” Reeta shot back.

“What truth?”

“That he is only a registered medical practitioner – an RMP, not a doctor.”

“It’s the same thing.”

“That’s what you think.”

“You are just jealous.”

“Why would I be jealous?” Reeta retorted. “I am going to marry a ‘real’ doctor in the city, not some remote village which doesn’t even have electricity.”

“It does have…”

“Juhi!” Her mother came bustling in trembling with excitement and nervousness, “come along. They want to see you. Now behave yourself. Keep your head down. Don’t forget to touch their feet. Speak but only when spoken to and speak softly….”

She led Juhi out, muttering instructions.

“What is your name?” The elderly man with the big mustache asked.

“Juhi.” Her voice was barely audible.

“Can you cook? And sew?”

Juhi inclined her head.

“Have you been to school?”

“Yes, I studied till Class 5.”

“Did you just go to school or can you also read and write?”

Juhi’s eyes flew up to meet Ranjit’s mocking eyes.

“I can.” She said.

“Which? Read or write?” He smirked. “Don’t mind but I am the only doctor in the entire village. I have a certain standard to live up to. My wife cannot be illiterate…”

“I can read and write.” She asserted.

He pushed forward a notepad. “How about a little test?”

She looked at her mother, who nodded encouragingly. “I know only Hindi.” She said.

“Don’t worry. I don’t have such high expectations!” They laughed.

Ranjit began the dictation.

Juhi bent her head and laboriously wrote them down with her tongue sticking out from one corner of her mouth.

After the dictation was over, everyone held their collective breaths as he scanned the notebook.

After an eon, he lifted his head and smiled. “She passed the test.” He looked at his father. “We may put her on the shortlist…”

“Wait a minute,” Juhi spoke up, ignoring the gasps, “I want you to also take the test.”


“Yes.” She looked at him in the eye. “Please take down my dictation.”

He went red. He looked at his father for guidance and support in dealing with the unheard of insult.

Her mother nudged her. “Juhi! Apologize this very instant.”

But the groom’s father laughed and slapped him on the back. “Go ahead son and show her who you are – a respected and highly educated doctor.

Ranjit gave in and accepted the challenge. But not before his eyes had burned into hers, promising retribution.

“Please check it, Madamji.” He said mockingly as he handed the diary back to her after the dictation was done. “Happy?” He turned to his father and declared, “I like her spirit. Can we finalize her?”

“You may.” Juhi spoke up. Her eyes were glittering. “But I refuse to marry you.”

There was pin drop silence.

She held up the diary. “He failed the test.”


Written for the Daily Post’s one word prompt – Better

A/N This story was inspired by a incident reported in the news last week. Hats off to her.

The Vacation

“Soup!” She sang out as she arrived with two steaming bowls to where he sat hunched over his laptop.

“What soup?”

She almost laughed at his look of suspicion and mistrust as he looked from her to the tray in her hand.

“It’s my own recipe. Try it.”

“It must have a name?” He grumbled as he accepted his bowl.

“What’s in a name? Careful! It’s hot.”

“I like to know what I am eating.”

“First taste it. If you like it, you can name it.”

He took a cautious sip. “Hmm, not bad.”

“There you have it – The Not Bad Soup!”

He grunted and went back to his laptop.

“What are you doing?”

“Planning our next vacation.”

“I don’t want to go to any hill station. It’s too cold and everything is so uphill.”

“There’s downhill too.”

She rolled her eyes. “Let’s go to the sea side. Goa would be lovely this time of the year.”

“Goa’s all booked up and expensive.”


“Same problem.”

“Hill stations aren’t expensive?”

“Not in this season.”

“I don’t see the fun in spending money to freeze. We can do that at home.” She pulled her wrapper closer.

“Think of the view. The clear blue skies, the snow capped mountains.”

“Kerala is lovely.”

“Their cuisine is too spicy.”

“They have multi-cuisine restaurants.”

“They are all spicy.”

“Come on! Not everything is spicy.”

“Name one.” He challenged.

“Appam and stew? Avial…”

“You haven’t made avial in quite a while now.”

“That’s because it is too spicy for you!”

“Very funny.” He said sourly. “I can’t live on avial and appam for days on end.”

“As if at hill stations they will serve food to your exacting standards.”

“Some places do! Remember Kasauli…”

“That was Kasauni and it was a guest house…”

“It was Kasauli…”

“I remember very clearly it was Kasauni.”

“Who made the arrangements? You or me?”

“Who forgot the key in the door? You or me?”

“That’s different…”

“How’s that different? We could have been robbed. The key was hanging on the door the entire night.”

“But we weren’t were we?”

“We could still be! Who knows if somebody made a copy of it?”

“You and your overactive imagination.”

“Yeah right! What if I had left the key hanging on the door?” She glared at him.

“Let’s go to Munnar. That’s in Kerala.”

“What’s the catch?”

“No catch. We’ll visit Thekkady too, see the elephants…”

“Wow! That sounds lovely.” She smiled.

“And finish off in style with a stay in a houseboat, take leisurely trip down the picturesque backwaters of God’s own country.”

“Let’s not make it a rushed tour. Let’s take our own time at each place. I don’t want to run from one place to another like we usually do. That’s very exhausting.”

“There you go complaining again. We aren’t traveling thousands of kilometers and spending lakhs of rupees just to stay in a hotel room are we?”

“Lakhs of rupees?”

“But of course. Especially if you want to take your own time at each place.”

“It’s too expensive.”

“And wasted on you. You don’t have any stamina and to be able to truly get your money’s worth, you need to walk a lot. But you…”

“As if you can walk for miles…” She jeered.

“Of course I can! I slow down for your sake…”

“That’s right, put the blame on me. Lucky for you that I tire out just before you do.”


“Why don’t we plan a trip and gift it to Raja for his wedding anniversary? They both work so hard, I am sure they will enjoy the trip. And ever since he was a baby he has been crazy about wildlife.”

“Sometimes…just sometimes,” he scratched his beard as he reluctantly admitted, “you manage to give a sensible suggestion.”

“I always make brilliant suggestions but it is you who refuses to accept them.”

“Hmphh. One word of praise and there you go flying high. Come down to earth and find out from your son when he is free.”

“I am not asking him! That would spoil the fun. Besides he would then insist we go along.”

“So what’s wrong with that?”

“No! Who wants their in-laws along for their wedding anniversary?”

“I wouldn’t mind!”

“You mean you wouldn’t mind my in-laws going along. But if it were your in-laws…”

“What are you going on about? My in-laws, your in-laws, why do you always complicate matters?”

“I don’t complicate matters – it’s you who is unable to deal with home truths.”

“What home truths?”

“That you would be okay with your parents going along with us for our wedding anniversary but if it were my parents…”

“Don’t assume things…”

“I am not assuming things. Remember when…”

“Oh there you go again, digging up buried incidents and airing your imagined grievances…”

“Imagined? Excuse me, they are all real…”

“That’s what all crazy psychos say.”

“What did you call me? A crazy psycho?”

“I know. It was wrong of me. I apologize.”

“What?! I don’t believe this!”

“What?” He looked at her.

“You apologizing…”

“I have no issues apologizing when I am in the wrong.” He wore a self-righteous expression. “And I admit I was wrong to insult the ‘crazy psychos’ by lumping you with them…” he shot her a sly look.

“What! I swear I will murder you one of these days.” She fumed but her lips twitched.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Your heart – served raw dripping with blood.”

“Hmm interesting. Do you think I will be able to eat it…?”

“Oh forget it! You are impossible.” She stood up.

“Hey hang on! Where are you going? We haven’t decided where to go for our vacation.”

“To the kitchen – to make dinner.”

“How about avial? May as well enjoy Kerala right at home.”

“You should have said so right in the beginning that you wanted avial, rather than make a song and dance about a vacation to…”

“Just to refresh your memory, I suggested hill station…”

“That was just a red herring. You knew I would object and then you would lead…”

“You have such a suspicious mind…”

“You are such a conniver and manipulator…”

“You are getting smart in your old age.”

“So you admit…

“I don’t admit to anything.”

“But you just…”

“I was just trying to give you a compliment but you…”

“That’s because you…

“Because I what….


A/N This was meant to be a flash fiction submission but it just went out of control and as you can see they are still at it 😉

I thought this could fit the daily post prompt – None

Do let me know if this worked or not – thanks for reading, hope you have a good week


Bestsellers Galore

Sameer washed down on the last bit of the burger with a healthy swig of beer. He was sick of airport food, which was all that he got these days. On the flight from Chennai to Delhi, he had had a wonderful dream of dal and rice, just the way she used to make.

How can the cook mess up something as simple as rice and dal? I could do it better, if only I had the time.

Liar! You hate going into the kitchen because it reminds you of her.

Everything reminds me of her dammit.

Then why did you let her go?

She didn’t want to stay.

Did you ask her to stay?

Why would she listen to me?

When has she not?

She left didn’t she?

You left her no choice. You forced her to choose between self-respect and her love.

So fine! She chose herself.

What did you expect? That she would prefer to choose a moody obnoxious…

Whose side are you on?

Hers obviously. I am sick of you and your blasted ego. Just because you don’t like to say sorry, admit your mistakes, you let her go.

Oh stop whining. Move on. It’s been two years…

Oh so you’ve been keeping track?

What’s there to keep track?

You lie even to yourself. Hey isn’t that her?

Where? Shut the hell up and stop messing with my mind.

I am not messing with you! And even if I am, what can you do? Push me away like you did her? Just because she told you a few home truths?

What rot! I didn’t push her away.

That’s what you think. And deny as much as you like and the way I see it, she still has a firm clasp over your heart.


And every now and then she gives it a squeeze.

His heart stopped. There she was – at the bookshop.

Go to her! Don’t let her go away again.

Stop being so Bollywood. What do I have to say to her?


But I can’t say it. I wrote it all down. I even published it.

You should have sent her a copy.

What if she laughed at my face?

She has the right. Besides the book is funny.

Very funny.

If you hadn’t used a penname, she would have known by now. She couldn’t have missed it.

I couldn’t make fool of myself.

So you used a female penname?

Oh shut up.

For once be honest with yourself. Do you or do you not believe what you wrote? If you do, do not let her go. Fate has handed this chance do not let it slip.

I couldn’t.

Why can’t you? Just say hello?

What if she refuses to talk to me?

Just the kind of tonic your oversized ego needs.


I told you I am on her side.

Help me dammit.

Go to her and apologize to her.

What if she insults me?

What if she doesn’t?

What if she does?

That’s the risk you have to take. That’s what you have to decide. Whether you love her or yourself.

She had finished purchasing her book and was moving away towards the boarding gates.

 He couldn’t let her go. Not again.


“How are you?” No surprise. No flicker of recognition or emotion.

“Fine.” Limbs and heart leaden, he turned away.

“Do you mind autographing this book?”

 She held out his book.

“Y…You know?” He held his breath.

“Yes. I read the book.”

“How did you like it?” He couldn’t quite hide his smug expression. His book was good. The reviews and sales proved it.

She looked at the book in her hand. “The book is good. I especially liked the twist in the end.” She met his eyes.

His heart thudded. “When he walked away?”

She nodded.

He shrugged. “It is what the protagonist deserved. To be punished. To be alone, forever.” He cleared his throat. “If you have already read it why did you buy it?”

“I wondered if it was all mere talk. I wanted to find out for myself.”

“And?” His breath eased and his heart steadied. He felt on top of the world. He could picture her in his their home. Nothing would have changed. It would be as if these two years had never happened. He at his table tapping away, a delicious fragrance wafting around him while she pottered about…

“I better go that’s my flight.”


“I’ll mail you my thoughts.” She paused. “Or maybe I won’t. You can buy the book and read it. Stay well.” She walked away.


Depending on whom you’ve been rooting for I hope I managed to jolt you or extract a chuckle or two 😉

Thanks for reading! I would appreciate if you let me know your thoughts 😉 Or would you prefer me to wait for the bestseller? 😀