Mincemeat

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Photo (c) Ted Strutz

Mincemeat

Words 101

 It was tough to leave home, leave Mamma and go to school.

Don’t worry sweetie, Mamma promised, it’s just for a few hours.

Until it was time to go to the hostel.

Don’t worry, you’ll be home for the vacations.

Then she was married.

Mamma, I want to go home.

His home is your home.

But he keeps telling me to get out of his home.

Ignore him. You have full legal rights…

 I don’t like staying where I’m not wanted.

 You can’t live alone!

 But…

 What would people say?

 But…

 Just grit your teeth and hang on. I did.

***

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

Wish you all a wonderful and Happy New Year and thank you for reading!

 

Are You Complicit?

Complicit has been adjudged the word of the year, as it is the most searched for word online at Dictionary.com. The article is an interesting read and gives a comprehensive overview of some of key events of the year 2017.

After the 2015’s unbelievable word of year and the depressing post-truth in 2016, I find myself quite enamored with complicit.

Complicit according to Dictionary.com means “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.” That means I can safely exclude me you and most others. So why would I ask if you (or I) were complicit? I mean we have not chosen to be involved in any illegal act have we?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines complicit as “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.”

Choosing is an act of commission but in some way is a more loose/vague phrase and may include an act of omission as well. And that is what complicity is all about – omission or as Dictionary.com elaborates: “Or, put simply, it means being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly.”

And therein lies the strength and beauty of the word – in its connotation. Simply looking the other way could make you complicit. It is a word that that ropes in everyone standing on the sidelines, it points fingers, grabs us by the collar and demands to know: Why are you silent? Why are you COMPLICIT?

Complicit brings to the fore what we have always been taught since school: “Forget not that the grossest crime is to compromise with injustice and wrong. Remember the eternal law: you must give, if you want to get.” Subhas Chandra Bose

Yet like all lessons this too needed to be brushed up and reiterated. And we need to be shaken out from our stupor, our chalta hai attitude and speak out. We are a certified argumentative lot so why don’t we speak out more?

It is time that we stood up and be counted. Be that ‘faceless’ society in whose name today honor killings and other atrocities against women continue to be committed. It is time to stop blaming the victim and call out the real perpetrators – her parents for being responsible for dowry deaths and bride burning.

It is time to call them out, shift them from the victim category and lump them along with the killers. Why are only in-laws being booked? Why not the parents too? The in-laws can demand, deprive, torture and murder the bride only because her parents are complicit. If they weren’t, then they would have taken her away at the first instance of threat and injustice. With an assured safe house, no girl would feel the need to commit suicide or strangle her own daughter.

But unfortunately, not many parents do that, do they? Once she is married, their responsibility ends. They have done their duty, fed her clothed her, educated her, gotten her married and sent her off with due pomp and ceremony to her real home, her paradise on earth. They are more than happy and relieved to be free of their burden and more than ready to reap the benefits of their good karma.

Wait. What if there is trouble in paradise?

Well what could they do? They were poor, old, incapable and bechare. They didn’t make the rules the society did and if everyone could follow the rules so could she. It was now time for her to pay her parents back for their sacrifice, do her duty, be the ‘good girl’ and shoulder her own burden. Silently.

Besides, if it was her destiny to be an educated, qualified six-figure earning 21st century slave, what could her parents do except shed unhappy tears, keep fasts and pray?

Fiction? No. Just the unpleasant, painful, disturbing reality of many a woman in India. One that we prefer to look away from, blame her and think of other safer comfortable things. But like Luvvie Ajayi says in her amazing TED talkLet’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

While skydiving she realized that “comfort is overrated. Because being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done is maintain the status quo. So we’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable by speaking these hard truths when they’re necessary.” Like she says, “And in a world that wants us to whisper, I choose to yell.”

As do I. If aging infirm parents can sue their sons and the government mobilized to enact a law that makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide better and safe living conditions for them why can’t similar provisions be made for daughters trapped in unhappy marriages?

Well, why are you so silent?

Are you ready to call a spade a spade or if you like fairy tales, call the naked emperor naked?

Are you going to speak up? Stop existing in isolation? Take sides? Make a difference, and leave the world a little bit better than it was?

 Or would you prefer to be complicit?

 Your choice, their lives.

***

 

Missed Call

Hello friends, curious about the outcome, I couldn’t resist writing a sequel to last week’s FF: The Helpline Number but I think (and hope) this works as a standalone story as well. As usual thank you for your indulgence 🙂

closet
Photo (c) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Missed Call

Words 100

 “Yes?” The portly neighbor’s eyes glistened.

“I’m locked out.” She said. “Could you call a carpenter?”

“At this time?” He opened the door.

She backed away.

But she wouldn’t call him.

 

His house was spic and span. Not a crease out of place. Just the way he liked it. Yet everything looked cold, clinical.

He gave the cushion a restless twitch.

Her inhaler.

 His breath caught.

What if she needed it?

 What did he care?

She had walked out.

Why the hell wasn’t she picking her phone?

 

How careless can you be?” He brandished her inhaler.

She burrowed into him.

***

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Helpline Number

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Photo (c) J Hardy Carroll

The Helpline Number

Words 102

It was dark when she let herself into her new apartment. Switching on the lights she gazed around delightedly.

The room was exactly as she had left it. The upturned heels, the dupatta* trailing on the floor, a half-opened book, the banana peel.

She was truly free of that obnoxious odious nitpicking man!

Humming, she threw open the windows.

Neither a ‘garbage dump’ nor a ‘pigsty’ she thought as she put out the trash.

A gush of wind slammed the door shut.

Locked out without her phone!

 Sweat broke out on her brow.

She couldn’t recollect any phone number.

Except for his.

***

*dupatta: a long scarf usually of cotton or silk.

PS: Would you like to know what happened next? Click here 😉

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

One Step at a Time

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Photo (c) Marie Gall Stratford

One Step at a Time

 Words 100

Top floor! She panicked. Never in a thousand years would she manage to reach her goal.

She spied a signage and sighed in relief. Ah the lift!

She hurried to join the tail end of a long winding queue.

The queue behind grew longer and yet she didn’t move an inch.

Restless and impatient, she chaffed at the wait.

“Want to jump queue?” A voice whispered temptingly.

“How? I am new with no resources.”

“Fresh and resource full.” He leered lasciviously.

No time and miles to go.

Decision made she stepped out of the queue and headed for the stairs.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Marie Gall Stratford for the photo prompt. To read the other stories or participate click here.

 

One Fine Evening

rogers-sunset
Photo (c) Roger Bultot

One Fine Evening

Words 97

What a beautiful evening an exhilarated Suresh thought as he left the office. Just the kind Meera went gaga over.

He couldn’t wait to go home and share the good news. He would hold her in his arms and apologize for his cruel words. He couldn’t take them back but he would make it up to her.

A romantic dinner at the swanky houseboat restaurant.

And a movie.

Her choice.

Oh how her eyes would sparkle!

He willed the traffic to move faster.

“Meera!” He entered the darkened bedroom.

How odd.

Meera’s feet dangled at eye level.

***

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

Whew! I almost missed the party 😀

Surrender

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Photo (c) Sandra Crook

Surrender

Words 99

 At first she grew in another garden.

Lush green and sprightly, she swayed with the winds, laughing at the elements as they cared for her like their own.

Only she wasn’t.

She was meant for another garden.

It was her prarabhda* to nurture and provide for strangers, to steer them through strife, storm and drought.

Her roots held them together.

Bound and unable to leave she withstood the onslaught of the changing seasons -waiting and hoping for eternal spring.

Years and they passed her by: demanding using cutting slicing.

Until she stopped waiting.

There was beauty in fall too.

***

A/N: Prarabdha is a Sanskrit word meaning commenced or begun. Prarabdha is one of three types of karma (originating from the root kri, meaning to act).

The others are sanchita karma – sum of all karma that has been collected; kriyamana karma, or agamikarma that is currently being created and will yield results in the future.

In Vedantic literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The bowman has already sent an arrow and it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrows in the quiver on his back is the sanchita; the arrow he has shot is prarabhda; and the arrow, which he is about to shoot from his bow, is agami. Of these, he has perfect control over the sanchita and the agami, but he must surely work out his prarabdha.

Prarabdha karma is only exhausted after its consequences have been experienced or its debts paid. There are three types of this karma:

  • Ichha, that which is personally desired
  • Anichha, or karma without desire
  • Pareccha, or karma that is the result of another’s desire

The yogi who has achieved union with the Higher Self does not experience ichha prarabdha karma but is still subject to anichha and pareccha.

This is my second offering to this week’s Friday Fictioneer’s – sorry I couldn’t resist 🙂 The first one is here but they aren’t interlinked.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂