Assad sprawled upon his large four poster bed covered in red satin bedsheets. He drew his silk bathrobe closer to cover his bare shoulders as he blushed a little. When the phone on the other end of the line began to ring he blushed harder and crossed his legs in their white polka-dotted briefs. He twirled the silk string of his bathrobe in nervous anticipation. After a long time, the operator told him that his call will not be received at the moment and they would get back to him at the earliest. Assad sighed and hung up the phone. Then threw it at the bomb proof window of his palace. It thudded dully against the window and plopped down to the thick carpet.
Assad flopped into a nest of his goose feather pillows and switched on Skype in his ultra large smart TV. He dialed Kim’s number. He knew not to disturb Kim at this time…But he was feeling too dejected and Kim always knew how to cheer him up. Kim answered the call and the camera took moment to focus on his large round face. Kim’s face was covered in a thick green paste and he had cucumber slices on his eyes. He seemed to be soaking in a large tub of bubbly water. He pulled a cucumber slice off of one eye and chomped on it.
“Ah, my friend, the butcher of the east, come to give me my weekly dose of venison…” he laughed until his jowls quivered like those of an obese pig.
“ Kim, my buddy, I was just feeling a little IL! Thought I would check in with the sickest man I know!” Assad laughed until his bony shoulders flapped like those of a freshly skinned chicken. Continue reading
A hail of arrows flew up and blotted out the sun for a second. Sudarshan Chakra, the divine discus, flew into the arrows and swept them away like a broom would some stray twigs. The Chakra flew back to the forefinger of Lord Krishna, cunning statesman and flirt extraordinaire, and kept spinning there like a DVD in a disc player. “ We could do this all day, Partha, and we would get nowhere with it…” Krishna gave a nod and the peacock feather in his crown nodded emphatically, “ You of all people know this. I am your elder and I have laid a claim to this. For your own good, let it go.”
On another chariot halfway across the battlefield, Arjuna, handsome prince and master marksman, lowered his divine bow the Gandiva and scoffed, “ If just being elder was enough to lay claim to anything, then the war of Mahabharata would never have taken place, Madhava. You of all people should know this…” Arjuna raised Gandiva and in a blink cocked an arrow and released it. It flew in a wide arc towards Krishna’s and halfway through its path it split into a hundred arrows that burst into flames. The flaming arrows plunged towards Krishna who yawned at their descent. As the arrows got closer Krishna twirled his flute and waved it at the arrows, the arrows popped like popcorn and transformed into large marigold flowers that rained over the chariot and Krishna.
“The same old tricks Phalguna? Your arsenal is growing rusty…It’s long overdue for a hardware update…” Krishna smirked.
“And you are still using the same old parlour tricks, Keshava, your magic could do with a software update…” Arjuna grinned back. Continue reading
Asha climbed down from the mountain after a long arduous trek to catch the first glimpse of her city, her eyes widened and her nose twitched when she saw the entire city covered in what appeared to be a glistening orange mist. The rest of the way down she peered into the mist and watched it as it swirled around in unique patterns. How long has she been gone for? She counted the days on her fingers, she wasn’t gone for more than a week. What had changed in a week? She hurried down faster towards her home.
As she neared the first street of the city, she saw that the mist was made up of a formation of small flying quadcopter drones. All of them were painted orange with images of tigers, Shiva or Shivaji Maharaj drawn on them. Each one of them had a small orange flag flying on top of it that read ‘ABVA’ on it. Asha walked on in silence and mouthed a “what the…” as she stared from one drone to another as they moved about lazily. She knew the state would have elections while she was gone and she had expected some changes, but this was beyond anything she had imagined.
“I told you this was going to happen!” Vijay wiped the sweat off his brow, “But did you listen to me? No! Now look what has happened.” He stuck the spade into the soft soil in their backyard.
“Yes…yes I know you told me. And I never listen to you” Shilpa agreed eagerly, as the torchlight she held in her hand shook, its beam making wild circles on the ground at Vijay’s feet.
She kept staring at the soft bundle that was lying a few feet away , swaddled in cloth. In the darkness, she could convince herself that it was still breathing. She shook her head, such wishful thinking was of no use. They had a job to finish. Continue reading
He walked steadfastly through the corridor. He felt a mixture or annoyance and excitement that was making him miss his beat. He had not even had a chance to try out the new holo lens technology and some rich brats were already getting themselves killed because of it! He hoped that this incident did not lead to any kind of ban on the technology. On second thought, it would not, it was too big an industry and too pioneering a technology to be stopped by something as small as a kid jumping to his death. Well, the fifth kid in two weeks. There had to be some pattern to this, and he was running out of time to figure it out. Continue reading
Satyananda crouched beside the dumpster. The street was deadly silent but it was better lit than he had expected. The large signboard of the restaurant read “The Dragon’s breath” in red and green neon brilliance. All the other signboards of the street were lit too. Satyananda crouched and waited to make sure there was no movement in any of the stores. The street lights cast their orange sleepless light all around. He was close to a street light and it lit up his shaved head making it glow like an incandescent bulb. His orange robes were glowing brightly too. He wished he had more inconspicuous clothes, but it was too late for that. What he had to do could no wait.
He looked at the neon dragon coiled around the sign “The Dragon’s breath” and balled his fists. The restaurant’s specialty was Lobster in five spice sauce. Each day dozens of lobsters were boiled alive in an attempt to satiate the palates of self-proclaimed gourmands in search of the next subtle flavor. “Can you not hear them scream as you boil them alive?” Satyananda would ask them. “Lobsters cannot scream!” they would tell him in their haughty voices, “It’s just air escaping their shells!”
“That is all life is to some people! Air escaping from shells!” Satyananda had raged to his teacher Shantiduta.
“Isn’t that all life is, dear student, a soul trying to escape its mortal shell?” Shantiduta had said and smiled at Satyananda’s frustration.
That was why Satyananda had not informed his teacher of the daring rescue mission he was about to perform tonight. Continue reading
It was a clear day and a bright sun shone in the sky as Krishna wheeled his chariot across the vast motionless fields of Kurukshetra. It was the first day of the war, and Krishna was prepared to guide the Pandavas to victory. He had been excited before but now as he gazed upon the battlefield he was presented with an unanticipated problem. Excellent strategist that he was he believed he had prepared for every possible development in the war, but he had to concede that even he had not seen this coming. He sighed as he looked at the empty battlefield devoid of both the armies, where was everyone? He couldn’t fight the largest war ever, all by himself.
Krishna sat in his chariot for a few hours staring at the horizon, hoping for the armies to show up. Then feeling like a petulant child who had been stood up by all his friends for his birthday pa Continue reading
Sushil woke up to find that Shreya was not in bed beside him. He smiled at the memory of last night. He would have slept much longer and maybe even had some coffee in bed, he was on vacation after all. But he did not want to keep his in-laws waiting for breakfast so he got ready and went down to the dining table.
As he had expected the whole family was gathered at the table for breakfast. “Good morning everyone!” Sushil said as he took a seat at the table. No one replied. This was strange, his in-laws were always very polite and welcoming, that was the only thing he looked forward to in these trips. Perhaps he had not been loud enough, “Good morning!” he said again and felt an awkward silence descend on the room. His father-in-law was hidden behind the morning newspaper that was stretched tight to the point of tearing apart. His brother-in-law was dipping the same idly in the sambar again and again so that it kept melting and less and less of it came out each time.
His mother-in-law was holding her copy of the Ramayana like it were a life jacket and was reading it as if she desperately needed to resuscitate someone and it gave instructions on how to give mouth to mouth.
Shreya and his sister-in-law kept going in and out of the kitchen like a pair of windup dolls. They kept piling everyone’s plates with idlis as if they had a competition to see who would make the tallest tower of idlis. Continue reading
They gathered outside the house on the hill. It was not technically a hill, just a huge mound of cheap consumer goods mostly imported from China and Vietnam. They marveled at how much the mound had grown since the last time they had been to visit their brother. There were new and interesting items in the mound, several tanning beds, full body tan sprayers, all of the latest electronic products. Even as they watched another truck delivered more goods to the house, two new treadmills and one of those ridiculously shaped ab-exercise machines.
Lust shook her head and her blond tresses flowed like a golden waterfall, she was wearing a flowing dress that covered everything but what it should have, “This has gone way too far! We should have put a stop to this a long time ago.”
Wrath grunted, he towered over his siblings, like a wall built of pure muscle, a ripple seemed to pass through the wall as he flexed the mallet in his hand, “We told him as much last time did we not? We told him he had won the damned bet we had among us. That he had nothing more to prove.”
“Of course, I remember! How can one forget such humiliation?” Pride scoffed, he checked to make sure his perfectly styled hair was in place and straightened his tie, his immaculately tailored suit fit him like a second skin, “I am still not convinced that our brother won, but I conceded our little bet because we agreed it was not good for the world, the way he was carrying on. It was hard enough we conceded defeat once, why are we here again?” Continue reading
Pooja checked to see that the road was empty and pulled her hood closer over her head. She took a deep breath and went into the basement of the building. Her footsteps echoed through the giant parking space as if a whole army was marching behind her. She paused once just to make sure she was the only one around. Silence covered the basement like a shroud. She continued walking deeper into the darkness of the basement parking lot. It was an office building that was empty at this hour. She walked past cars and bikes scanning the semi darkness for any signs of life. There were none.
She finally reached the place where they had agreed to meet. It was not cold but a shiver ran down her spine. She checked her phone and waited, he should have been here already. She checked for her purse in her pocket. She could feel the weight of the cash she was carrying. She adjusted her glasses and took a deep breath. This had to be done. Where was the guy?
She caught a shadow in the corner of her glasses and turned. A large man in a black hoodie stepped out from behind the car. Pooja gave a small scream and muffled it with her hand. He was here already. He simply stared down at her, “You are late.” Continue reading
I dropped the fork I was holding and it clanged on my plate with the clarity of a doomsday prophecy. Everyone in the small restaurant looked around in alarm. Asha had gripped our table and was about to get out of her chair. Her large eyes looked around in alarm for the source of the sound, like a deer looking for a predator. When she realised the sound was just me hiccuping, she sat down with downcast eyes. Her face began to color, it first looked like a freshly dug out turnip and then like a beetroot. I was amused by this and wanted to mention this to her but,
Someone at a nearby table jumped. It was my turn to blush. I wanted to apologise but was afraid it might turn into a volley of hiccups. I drank some water knowing full well that it would do nothing to cure my hiccups. My hiccups were like a popular meaningless pop song, the kind that once it got stuck in your head would take ages to get rid of. I still had to figure out a cure for my hiccups, so I could do nothing more than sit there hiccuping loudly and hoping it would stop soon.
HIC Continue reading
Varun returned to his laptop to find he had another message from Asha and that his headphone wires were tangled, again. He sighed and began to untangle them as he read Asha’s message, “What did you mean when you said that people should not date outside their own leagues?”
Varun was taken aback. When had he said that? Had he even said that? He knew better by now than to ask Asha what this was in reference too. That would only make her mad and earn him a lecture on how he never paid any attention to what she said. It did not matter that her current train of thought was delayed by a few weeks. He thought back to all of their conversations over the past few weeks trying to remember where this thought was coming from. He looked at the tangle of headphones in his hand. How did it get so entangled in the blink of an eye! Continue reading
Ajit hit the TV remote hard on his head, as the commentator on the TV declare what a great delivery the last ball was. “Once a year, you take me out to a fancy restaurant for dinner and then expect me to work like a slave for the rest of the year!” Swati was saying from the kitchen, she was far enough that Ajit should not be able to hear her over the TV and she was not shouting either, but somehow her voice carried itself safely to his ears droning in them like an incessant malarial mosquito.
Ajit knew she was going to start though, she was consistent whatever else she was. Every game that he watched Swati would start complaining at the end of the first over like a clockwork wife. “You never feel like you have to help out around the house, oh, no! I am a man I have to sit and watch the game!” She said doing a good mockery of the way Ajit spoke. He cringed and hit his head again with the remote. “I go to work so I will come back home and plonk my ass on the sofa and eat and fart until I fall asleep. It doesn’t matter that my wife works too, she earns less than I do so she will do the housework…”and on and on she mocked. Ajit increased the volume of the TV to the maximum and yet he could hear every single word she said in Dolby digital surround sound. Continue reading
Detective Dumpty crinkled his nose at the smell of scrambled yolk that was emanating from the sidewalk. Another day another rotten egg cracked open on the pavement. He had reached the crime scene where his deputies were still drawing the outline of the dead body in chalk and others were holding back an eager crowd. Dumpty could make out the egg white and the yolk of the dead egg that were already beginning to cook in the heat of the sun. He could see a young newspaper egg carrying the morning edition, “Extra Extra, Jack the Cracker strikes again! Another rotten egg cracked open! Prime Minister to declare resignation today! Extra Extra.”
Dumpty glared at the newspaper egg and then noticed Benedict Singleyolk, the reporter for ‘The Transparent Shell’ the liberal propaganda mouthpiece that had squeezed this whole case for all that it was worth and more. Dumpty had always hated Singleyolk and his crazed conspiracy theories. His minute coverage of this case was churning Dumptie’s yolk inside his shell. He secretly hoped that Jack the cracker, as the serial killer had been dubbed, opened Singleyolk’s shell next. Continue reading
Swati sighed as she ran her hand down Varun’s muscular chest, “You have no idea how long I have waited for this!” “Not nearly as long as I have been waiting…”Varun whispered in her ear. He looked deep into her eyes, “Are you sure Ritesh is out of town…” Swati ribbed him for reminding her about her husband, “Yes, I am sure, he has a business meeting in Delhi, he will be back only on Monday morning! What about Ramya? Are you sure she will not disturb us?” Swati winced asking about her best friend and Varun’s wife. “She is on a spiritual retreat at some ashram outside the city…she can’t even be reached on her phone.”Varun smiled at her, “ So that means we have the whole weekend to ourselves…” Swati smiled back at him, “And I have a detailed itinerary of how we can spend it.” She leaned in and kissed him. Continue reading
I recently went on a temple trip with my parents. The right word for the trip would be a pilgrimage, but that makes me sound like a pagan from prehistoric times so I am not going to use it.So, we started the trip by getting on a bus. Why a bus you ask, why not the more comfortable option of a train or flight journey? Because we were going to a state in India that is still stuck in a time loop in the nineteenth century.
Now, I don’t want you to assume that buses in all of India are horrible, far from it. In several regions you can get buses that boast services on par with a middle eastern airline. But not in this state, here the buses are still designed to imitate medieval torture chambers. But that is assuming that they are designed at all, there is an all real possibility that they are actually remains of some ancient civilization that are being put into use by the state government. Continue reading
You are heartbroken. Again! Like seriously? Again? How can one person get his heart broken so many times? How is that even statistically possible? And yet here we are! You convinced yourself it was different this time. You were sure you had found your soulmate. You were going to make it work this time, you were sure of it! It just felt perfect, different, like it was meant to be. And you ran with it. Of course you did. Like you have a hundred times before. And it was glorious. It was beautiful. It was passionate, all-consuming. It hurt, but it hurt so good. It had to be true, because it can hurt so much only when it is true, right ? right! Continue reading
Tanya is browsing through the swimwear collection on nile.com her favorite shopping website. It’s true that father has said she cannot go to Goa and there is no way he will let her buy a swimsuit, but Tanya is sure she will figure it out, she always does. Her phone rings, it’s Manju, her best friend for the season. Tanya takes the call, “So I was wondering, what would be a better shade for my swimsuit? Should I go with the turquoise one or the peacock blue one? The peacock blue on makes my skin look…”
“Tanya, babe…” the urgency in her voice gives Tanya pause, “it’s Ananya…she’s…just check the college website…”
Tanya opens the website to the image of a glowing lamp and ‘shraddhanjali’ written in a somber font besides an old photo of Ananya. There is a second where Tanya feels a sensation of transition, as if a dying sputtering candle in a large dark room was finally snuffed out. Then she gathers herself with remarkable ease, “what has the nerd gone and done now?” she asks with mock contempt. Continue reading
Imran ordered his coffee. He watched as the barista topped it with hazelnut crème and Irish liquer and chocolate chips and cookie crumbs and whole oreo biscuits, until it was no longer a coffee but a dessert. He sighed and wondered since when coffee had become a part of a seven course meal. “Would you like some marshmallows with that?” the barista asked him with fake enthusiasm. Imran politely declined, paid for it and sat down at his favorite table facing the door of the overpriced café.
Imran opened his laptop and pretended to be working on his term paper. But he knew that was not why he was really here. He kept glancing up at the clock once in a while. At exactly the right time, like clockwork she entered the café. Imran’s heart began to race. She ordered her usual hot coffee with mint liquer and chocolate sauce. Its unique aroma wafted through the café and Imran heard violins playing in the air. She took her coffee and sat at a table that afforded Imran a clear view of her sunlit face. If this were a fairytale she would be his princess. And he had spent a lot of time gathering intel on the operation. Now it was time to act.
I am going to talk to her today! Imran thought to himself, I just need some courage. And so Imran turned to his internet friends. He first spoke to the book of a thousand faces. He asked the book if it knew anything about her. Continue reading
Henry is rudely awakened from a wonderful dream. He was just about to score with the hot new web page designer, in the boss’s office too, when his mobile phone rang unceremoniously. He can tell by the ring tone, the theme song of Darth Vader from Star wars, that it is his father calling him. He cracks open a bleary eye and stares at his phone, it is 5 am in the morning, and his father is calling him from the next room. Henry cuts the call and rolls over in his blanket. This he thinks is exactly why I hate the holidays. Continue reading