Fighting a Losing Battle

Black White and Brown Chess Board Game
Photo (c) Pexels

Words ~ 800

Don’t you dare shout at me Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada!” ASR’s face was black as thunder.

“Why should I not? Are you the only one with daring?”

“Shut up Khushi.”

“Why should I? You shut up. Besides you started it!” Khushi’s voice was hoarse from the slanging match.

“I did not!” ASR denied.

“You did,” Khushi insisted, “God! You are really high maintenance.”

“I am high….huh?! That’s rich, coming from you.” ASR stomped into the kitchen.

“What are you looking for?” Khushi followed him.

Ignoring her, he banged drawers.

“What?” She insisted.

Slam.

“You tell me.” He snapped. “You know me so well.”

Khushi pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes as she accepted his challenge. She bent down and extracted a box of lemon teabags and banged it on the counter.

Arnav’s eyes flickered and steadied. He raised an eyebrow. “Clearly you don’t know me at all.”

“Oh but I do.” Khushi said mournfully. “I was just hoping I was wrong.” She opened a cupboard. “This is what you were looking for weren’t you?” She held a large kitchen knife.

Arnav smothered a laugh and flicked away the knife from her. “Where’s the kettle?”

“Right under your nose.” She rolled her eyes. “What’ll you do when I die?”

His eyes strayed to the knife.

Khushi rolled her eyes and snitched it back. She dropped it among the pots and pans and dusted her hands while shutting the drawer with a trademark swing of her shapely hips.

Arnav’s lips twitched.

Khushi plugged in the kettle and asked gently. “Shall we come to the crux of the matter?”

His eyes flickered.

Khushi sighed. “Arnav let Guddu go. He really wants to, besides it’s just for a couple of years….”

“Couple of years!” Arnav was up in arms. “How can you say just for a couple of years? Do you know how long that is?”

“You also went off abroad…”

“I didn’t have my parents waiting worrying…”

“Di and Nani were there…”

“Damn.” He turned away and smashed his fist on the wall. “It’s all your fault!” He accused, rubbing his hand.

“If that sorts your problem,” Khushi shrugged, “I accept.” She bowed. “It’s my fault. Happy?” She switched off the rumbling kettle.

“I’ll be happy if you rectify your fault.”

“Rectify my fault? How?” Khushi handed him his tea. (Side note: Yeah along the way, ASR had switched over to tea– coffee caused too much acidity and dhak dhak 😛 )

“Deva never listens to me. You convince him not to go.” He urged. “If you insist, he will definitely change his plans…”

“He listens to me only because I insist on things I know he will listen to…”

“That’s crazy!” 

“Exactly!” Khushi pounced. “And I have to do that thrice over.” She paused to tick them off her finger, “Guddu, Chotti, and of course ASR.”

“Rubbish.”

“Deny all you like.” Khushi shrugged. “All three of you are stubborn and self-opinionated egoistic…”

“Okay okay fine fine.” Arnav raised his hands in surrender. “Don’t drag me into this,” he paused. “Where will he stay? What will he eat?” He fretted. He brightened. “Maybe you could go along with him?”

“As if he would allow his Mamma to tag along with him! He’s a full grown man.” Khushi prayed for patience. “Besides who would manage things here?”

“What’s there to manage here?” Arnav was blasé. “Angel and I will have a blast with you out of our hair.”

“Mamma!” Chotti called from the living room. “I’m going!”

“Going?” Khushi poked her head out of the kitchen. “Where?”

“I told you!?” Chotti sashayed up to her looking hip in a figure hugging little black dress, “Sammy’s birthday party. I’ll be late. Don’t wait for me.” She twirled around. “How do I look?” she looked at them expectantly.

“Beautiful.” Khushi said extra brightly.

“Bye Mom!” she blew them a kiss. “Bye Daddy.”

“What the…!” Arnav breathed fire into her ears.

“Now what?” Khushi was at her tethers end. Hey Devi Maiyya please! Sambhal lena!

“What the hell is she wearing?!!!”

“Much more than what you wanted me to wear.” Khushi replied tartly.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Oh how I envy you your convenient memory.” Khushi gritted her teeth.

“That’s neither here nor there.” Arnav brushed her aside impatiently. “Why didn’t you say anything to her?” He was agitated.

“Because I have already had that battle with her and lost.” She raised a hand as Arnav opened his mouth to blast her. “And better you admit defeat too,” she advised kindly, “before she also decides to look for accommodation elsewhere.”

Khushi watched with interest and intense amusement the play of myriad emotions on Arnav’s face, which could perhaps be best described as oops-dammit-left-with-no-option-but-to-allow-Khushi-to-have-the-last-word—–again.

***

Cough cough waise Arnav ko toh aap bhi achche se jaante honge? Toh aapko kya lagta hai, unka expression kaisa raha hoga?

Look forward your reactions to this retrospective look at Arshi and their lives and if you are interested enough, I may just have another one – soon 😉

SPF: Forced into the Backseat

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Photo (c) Sascha Darlington

Forced into the Backseat

Words 202

What the hell Khushi!” Arnav pounced.

“What?” Khushi didn’t look up.

Hissing in frustration, in two quick strides Arnav switched off the television.

Khushi leaned back and popped another chana* in her mouth.

“I don’t get it Khushi.” He thrust a finger into her face. “How can you sit here and watch some stupid soap while Angel cries her heart out?”

Khushi shrugged. “It’s nothing major.”

“You know?” He sat down with a thump.

“She’s heartbroken.” Khushi said in a stage whisper.

“What the…!” Arnav was back on his feet fists clenched. “I’ll kill Shubham.” he ground out.

“Go ahead,” Khushi waved, “but remember your precious Angel won’t thank you for it.”

How can you be so calm?”

“What else can I do? They are adults. They have to sort it out.” Khushi shot him a darkling look “You also stay out of it.”

“I have to do something!” He paced the floor.

“Go tend your plants.” Khushi went to the kitchen. “Or take up kickboxing.”

Are you crazy?”

“It’s going to take some time.” She expertly sifted and prepared the batter for the jalebi*. She wrinkled her nose at him. “It’s been 30 years and we still haven’t stopped have we?”

***

*Chana: Roasted Bengal gram

*Jalebi: an irresistible crispy juicy Indian sweet

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge and Sascha Darlington for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Redrawing Battle Lines

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Photo (c) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Redrawing Battle Lines

Words 100

“Hello Guddu,” Khushi helped her son down from the bus, “how was school?”

“What’s for lunch?” He asked his favorite question.

“Chicken curry and rice.” She pulled him into a quick cuddle.

“Ma’am said we shouldn’t eat meat.”

Khushi sighed. Another battle.

“But darling you need your proteins. How else will you grow as tall and strong as your father?”

“Animals have feelings too. They hurt when…”

“Okay fine,” Khushi capitulated, “so you’re fine with no Maggi, no chocolates…?”

“No Maggi?”

Khushi shrugged. “Plants have feelings too.”

“I don’t want rice and chicken.” Guddu insisted. “I want a chicken burger.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt, click here.

Thanks for reading! If you like you can read my other Friday Fictioneer stories here – indexed, with snippets/teasers and color-coded recommendations 😀

FFfAW #103: The Wager

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The Wager

Words 168

 

“You didn’t!” She scowled.

“Don’t you know by now that I never lose a wager?” There was a ghost of a twinkle in his eyes.

“One of these days you will.”

He paled.

He fought for breath.

Doctor!”

He held her hand. “No. Stay. It’s time.”

“It’s not fair!” she sank down beside him.

“Didn’t I bet I would go first?” His voice was a whisper.

“Take me with you,” she pleaded.

“You haven’t even cleared security check, but I have my boarding pass,” he gloated.

“I don’t care! Pull some strings,” she cried, “get me my boarding pass.”

“Khushi…”

“Why must you always break my heart?” She gripped his hands. “Why must you always win?”

“70 years gone in a flash.”

And so was he.

She stood up with a crash.

To stop him.

To follow him.

Blinded by tears, she stumbled.

With no one to break her fall, she cracked her head on the floor.

He couldn’t always win.

She wouldn’t let him.

Not this time.

***

Written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – a story in 175 words or less. Thank you PJ for hosting and Dawn M. Miller for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Thank you for reading – look forward to your comments and reactions

SPF: It’s a Match

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It’s a Match

Words 202

Devansh edged towards the balcony. He needed some fresh air. Mom was going to be disappointed – again. Now she would insist that he go to India to find his soul mate.

As if they grew on trees over there.

“…fossilized dreams and aspirations…”

“That’s it! It’s off.”

“Are you crazy? To break off our wedding for such a flimsy…”

“This is a flimsy reason? Do you have any clue, any notion of my emotions, my sentiments? I see no future for us.”

“You’re impossible. I am leaving.”

“You’re still here?”

Rohit brushed past Devansh and vanished.

Devansh hesitated.

Unable to help himself, he picked up a drink and stepped out into the balcony.

“Here, have a drink.”

Mishti glared at him. “Trying to drug me?”

Devansh rolled his eyes. He downed half the glass and held it out to her.

“What happened?” Devansh leaned against the railing.

“That moron…”

“What did he do?”

“He didn’t like my plans for our honeymoon.”

“What plans?”

“A dinosaur expedition. I have been dreaming of it for years. But now all my plans, my money, tickets…”

Devansh’ eyes gleamed. “Maybe we could do it?”

“What? The wedding?”

Devansh coughed. “We could explore that after the expedition.”

 ***

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

FFfAW #94: Lost in the Wilderness

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Lost in the Wilderness

Words 175

Admit it Chotti you are lost.

‘Nonsense!’ Furious, Chotti scrubbed her face.

Why did you go off with Rishabh?

‘That %^$@*&!’ Chotti adjusted the stole over her torn neckline.

Just to make Shubham jealous?

‘Shut up dammit.’

A mewling halted her in-house altercation.

Peering though the foliage, Chotti gasped – an abandoned baby.

“Aren’t we a pair?” Chotti muttered as she swaddled the baby in her stole.

At the picnic, her plans to ‘show’ that insufferable obnoxious Shubham had backfired. Rishabh had an agenda of his own and worse, she had lost her phone in the ensuing scuffle.

She was lost.

The baby needed medical care.

ASAP.

The crunch of footsteps alarmed her.

Rishabh?

“You!”

Shubham took in her disheveled appearance and the baby in her arms.

His brow quirked. “That was umm… quick.”

“Very funny.” She glared – she could have hugged him. “Stop following me!”

“Then stop getting into trouble.” He draped his jacket over her.

“Good thing I did!” Chotti retorted, cuddling the baby. “If I hadn’t, she would have been lost forever.”

***

Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Thank you PJ for hosting and Joy Pixley for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here

 

SPF: Nipped in the Bud

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Nipped in the Bud

Words 201

“Impossible!”

“Nothing’s impossible.” Chotti said woodenly. Be still you traitorous heart.

“That’s just talk.” He scoffed.

“Don’t challenge me.” Chotti glowered.

He snorted. “That’s rich coming from someone who is mentally and vertically challenged.”

“I am petite.” Chotti declared snootily, “You are vertically unchallenged.”

“So you admit to being mentally challenged.” He smirked.

“Better than being rude, obnoxious…”

“Hey! I was only trying to help.”

“How? By being negative? By insulting me?”

“By being realistic. That’s too big a project. Drop it. Take up another.”

“Why? Because I am a girl?”

“Because you are a fool who has her head in the clouds.”

“Go away!” Chotti seethed. “I have no choice, there’s no time. This is it – do or die.”

He shrugged. “It’s your funeral.”

“Oh you think you are very funny don’t you?” Chotti ground out. “Instead of blathering, how about lending a hand?”

“Aha! Not too egoistic to ask for help?”

“Unlike some people.” Chotti sneered.

“I never need help.” He leaned closer, his breath warming her cheek.

“Exactly. You’re helpless.” Chotti rallied valiantly.

His rich laughter strummed her heart.

Enchanted, she gazed into his eyes, inches from hers.

What the hell!” Daddy (aka ASR) stood at the doorway.

***

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Write and read more stories on this prompt here.

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 98 and Calvin and Hobbes

Fans of IPKKND and readers of Silver Streaks please visit From DM’s Desk for more 😉

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