A funeral at night

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“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

The day Pikku disappeared

I make myself believe that I clearly remember the day Pikku disappeared. I remember the bright rays of sunshine that shone through our windows. I remember the smell of pancakes wafting up through the steps into our room. I remember mummy and daddy talking loudly, about something, something inconsequential to the memories of that day. I remember Pikku lifting my blanket and peeping inside, grinning. Her front two teeth were missing. All I saw were pink gums, bright blue eyes and flushed cheeks. Her brown hair fell in ringlets around her chubby face as she tickled me and ran down the steps giggling. I ran behind her, laughing loudly, “You chump, you absolute chump, I am going to get you.” I shouted. This was our weekend routine.

It always took me a while to settle into the skin of an elder brother, a whole two and half years older. Now that I am an adult, I realize how easy it is for a child to forget, forget that he is growing up. Continue reading

Those Dead Things

One more person had died that day. And a lot of people were dying that month. It was a depressing time in general; the economy was going down, government’s policies were fucked up and the working class was overworked. When I inquired further, the gatekeeper said, “He was young”.

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“How young?”
“Late twenties. Maybe twenty-eight or twenty-nine. Doesn’t matter now. Does it? He is dead. He will always be dead.”
“But wait … ” I said, “that’s just … and … so … we don’t know how he died?”
“We do, we do. And listen to this, it was a suicide. How often do you hear about such a thing?”
“Not that often and that’s horrific.”
“Indeed! He was a business consultant, quite like yourself. And they found a ligature and a stool in his apartment next to his hanging corpse. I think he was a failure. Classic suicide story. Right?” Continue reading

“The Pig”

You walk steadfastly through the corridors of the old school. Your footsteps echo throughout the abandoned building intruding a comfortable silence that reigns.

What was it like? You wonder. What was it like when I studied here? Garish laughter, childish screams, pitter patter of tiny feet assault your memories and a loss of the days long gone envelops your being.

Your foot steps slow down and you can almost hear the clanging of bells just like it did for lunch break. Another ten minutes, that is all it will take. You tell yourself. The huge sack you carry on your back weighs you down.

You hear a light giggle from some where behind you. You turn around, your heart rate shooting up and sweat trickling down your forehead.

“Who is it?” You ask. Loudly. Louder than you actually meant to. “Who is it? Who is it? Who is it?” Your voice echoes through the empty corridors mocking you. Your own voice reverberating, ricocheting off the walls, reminding you that it is truly YOU who is the intruder here.

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You wait for the echoes to die down and shine your torchlight all around you. All you see are tiny rodents skittering about in search of another rodent to eat.

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A Murder

So, the first stone hit, not me though, but the zircon ruby I had nicked off Nisha’s bathroom window. Quite an achievement, I tell you, since I had to brave my way through thick steamed smog, with zero visibility and an over powering scent of jasmine. But the red, blood red twinkle that reflected against my eyes was completely covetable. It made that arduous journey quite an adventure.

Being in possession of that ruby, which I decided to call Rubina, brought my ex girl Peri gliding like a swan towards me. Days of snogging, snuggling and basically Peri rubbing herself all over me, still did not convince me to give away Rubina.

And that is why, before the second stone hit me, I realized that I had been a celibate for six months now. Although I still say, Rubina was completely worth the celibacy.

The second stone, scraped deep through my right thigh, before lodging into Mr. Knuckles. No…no…no not Mr. Knuckles!

I had to fight Dodo continuously for three hours before I could deeply injure him and acquire Mr. Knuckles. The fight eventually resulted in Dodo’s death, being squished by a tire.

Hell, I didn’t care. Mr. Knuckles was the most beautiful stone I had ever set my eyes on. Amber and smooth in texture, I could look into Mr. Knuckles for hours at a stretch and forget about anything else, except for the mystical adventures Mr. Knuckles promised.

I screeched as Mr. Knuckles fell off the branch, and shattered onto the pebbled road below. My screech was cut short just as a pebble lodged into my mouth, and I had to sputter for at least a minute to spit it out.

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Of ghost towns and empty hearts

Laura drove her four by four, along a path that could best be described as a favor on humanity created by the constant patter of horse hoofs, ages ago. But tonight she needed that path. She had to revive it for her journey to Animas Fork, a ghost town in Colorado.

Just like its name, the approach route forked into random directions in an animated ballet of a mischievous elf. Driving up the path was like chasing Johnny across their 100 acre farm house. You never know, where the boy might turn, when he might turn or how he might turn.

And finally when Laura would huff and puff and shout in a labored breath that she gave up. Johnny would laugh and say, “See how I tricked you…this is how a Zebra’s stripes create a zigzag illusion, mummy!”

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Laura laughed at the memory and soon tears trickled down her smiling face. She did not bother to wipe them away instead she slowed down. She willed time to slow down as well, willed that lifelike memory of Johnny to stay, wished she could live in that memory a thousand years. Johnny was gone, just one instant, one moment when she looked away, and he ran down the road chasing a kitten; one flash of the truck driver distracted by his buzzing phone. One life lost.

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Funerals are the new raves

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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