Write Club Magazine – Edition 11

The Chronicles of Jim and other stories” marks the eleventh edition of Write Club Bangalore Magazine. You can read it for free under Kindle Unlimited, if not, it is just INR 49.

It starts with a darkly disturbing series of diary entries, by a troubled young man in “The Chronicles of Jim, written by Ashwin Kumar.

Moves on to the riveting Mythological Fiction called “Monster” written by Write Club, Bangalore’s recent enviable talent, Yedu Bose.

The series of stories then takes a dramatic turn and entices us into Romance with Kartik Patiar’s, “The Hot Cup of Cappuccino”.

Of course, now that you have read mythology, psychological horror and romance, you wonder what else does this book have to offer. And we don’t disappoint you with Anjali Torgal‘s fantasy/sci-fi short, “The Tree Whisperer”.

Since, we can’t get enough of sci-fi, we have ensured you get enough of it. Read on to “The Sporulation of Sarpanch Sam”, by, undeniably, our favourite writer Pavan Kumar. If you can’t get enough of Pavan here, follow him on Instagram for his surreal poetry.

Now that we have set the atmosphere of strange, it is time to bring out the big horror guns, with Amel Rahman‘s “No Cats”.

You must be wondering about how twisted we are, with just one romance and everything else is horror and fantasy. No, we are not twisted, at least not much. We do love a good splattering of romance in our imaginary worlds. So, read on to get your mushy on, with Isha Shukla’s “The Stone Bench”.

What did I tell you about our obsession with a good sci-fi?

Ankit Jha, our resident writer, editor and compiler, delights us with this fantasy/sci-fi short called “Wrath of Gods”.

Next up is “The Diary of a Womb”, a socially conscious piece about the conversations of an unborn girl with her male twin, general fiction by Nidhi Srivastava.

Finally, to end this embroiling book is a story written by me, “Raja and Mia”, about a young tiger’s love for his keeper. Genre: Drama.

Read an excerpt here.

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Hard candy for Diwali

I knew I was going to regret that day the minute I woke up. A strong cloud of foreboding hung over my head and after almost a year I found myself craving for a Chocolate Ganache. My stomach tore in desire as I searched my fridge for anything, anything fattening or gluttonous or sinful. All I found were bland protein breakfast bars.

I stuffed one in my mouth as tasteless flakes landed elegantly on my white tee.

How did I ever eat this shit for 365 days? I thought just as I kept stuffing not one, not two but three of those bars down my throat and simultaneously dusting off the big flakes off my clothes.

Bam, at the stroke of noon my mobile shrilled with Meghan Trainor singing that it was all about her base. The call was from Mummy. She demanded to know why I was not at her place helping her with the cooking and all the other shit that always needed to be done at family gatherings.

By the time she was done yelling at me, which was exactly 15 minutes, I was in a creased red chudidaar with a torn dupatta. I was hoping that I could cleverly conceal the tear if I wore the dupatta right, because my mother would lose a year off her life span if she happened to spot the tear.

Another fifteen minutes of almost empty roads, I entered my parent’s home. Some may call it a mansion; I called it the fancy house of terrors, mostly because my mother lived there. As I entered the drive way I saw a red Santro that belonged to my sister and her two kids. There was another that belonged to my widowed aunt and finally Munna uncle’s land rover, my mother’s younger brother.

I groaned, loud enough that the mansion’s new watchman jerked towards me, twisted his head and gave me the ‘Are you alright, lady?’ stare.

The living room smelled like a strange concoction of diya oil, motichor laddoos, marigold flowers and the stench of cigarettes. One sweep across the room and I took in my mother screaming at my twelve-year old niece to be nice to Munna uncle, my sister silently urging Mummy to leave her alone, my Father hollering at them to take their bickering elsewhere because Arnab was debating about the steel flyover, my six-year old nephew crashing into my pelvis, almost giving me a hernia and my aunt, who sat knitting sweaters in Bangalore with a glass of red wine.

In that instance I knew the reason for my daylong foreboding. It was this family, these people who I had managed to escape for past three years, while working abroad. With a sinking feeling I realised I was back where I started.

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My aunt exclaimed in delight the minute she saw me, “Chintu, kitni patli ho gayee hai? My god, oh how much weight have you lost?”

But no, no way can my mother have someone else say one nice word about me. Her psychosis doesn’t allow an entry into the house without guilt-tripping.

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What Else Do You See?

Saw him in a Jason Mask at the Halloween party last week, walked over and greeted, “Hi”, but there was no response. “So … ”, I said, from under my devil’s mask, my pitch trying to cut through the stereo woofing by the window, “I am Zach and you are?”

He walked away, out through the main door and disappeared somewhere near the driveway.

Called my girlfriend, “Sweetie, come over here”, she came close, half tipsy, breath smelling like vodka and cigarette, tail wagging like Catwoman, “Do you know who came to our party in a Jason Mask?”download

“In a what?”

“In a Jason Mask”

“What’s that? Are you drunk?”

“I am not drunk,” I said, pulled off my Devil’s mask and kept it on the corner table, “You are drunk … and Jason Mask is … have you not seen Friday the 13th?” Continue reading

The Date

“You look lovely, by the way. The profile picture, doesn’t do you any justice, you know.” He says.

Ah fuck, the hopeful look in his puppy dog eyes tell me that I need to return the compliment. I scrutinise him hard, I mean, there must be something I could compliment him on.

He is big, muscular. Clearly he works out, a lot. His beard; stands out in a disarray of tiny hair that just could not decide what direction to take. His hair is gelled; gelled to the point that each spike reminds me of a mini Eiffel tower.

He is wearing a white V-neck t-shirt covered with a grey woollen blazer; a blood red silk handkerchief stuffing down his breast pocket.

What is it that the fashion whores call those things? I think. Ah yes, a pocket square.

 “That’s a nice pocket square.” I say. Smiling brilliantly, a smile I am sure does not reach my eyes, hell; I don’t even think it reaches my cheekbones.

“Well thanks, darling. I am glad you noticed.” He returns my smile and speaks in a low baritone that is meant to indicate sophistication and class. He probably expects my knees to wobble, my heart to flutter like a humming bird, my body to surge with electric energy and my pussy to melt on his face.

Seducing beautiful woman looking at her lover with wine glass.

But all he gets is a smirk followed by a burp.

I should’ve known that, a starter of deep fried calamaris, was a recipe for burps and farts. Already my stomach complains at the onslaught of that sea dwelling urchin and I know I will have to pay a visit to washroom.

What is it that those elitist whores call it? I think. Ah yes, the powder room.

“Looks like the hors d’oeuvre do not agree with you, my love.” He is amused by the burp and the shock on my face there after.

“Looks like you are right.” I say. I am too classy to ask him what the fuck hors d’oeuvre means; but not that classy, because I decide that I will be saving his number on my phone as ‘The French Whore’.

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Pretty Fucking Please?

“Did you do something with your hair? It looks like you kinda did … you did right? It used to be all, I don’t know, wavy, somewhat curly. Right? It looks like it is more straight now … and wait … is it correct to say more straight or is it supposed to be straighter? And straighter? Is that how you say it? Straighter? Is that even a word? I don’t know. Anyway … how … how have you been?”

So that was a no-brainer, I was over-compensating for the damage by doing the awkward talk and she said, “Really? You called me all the way here to talk about my hairdo?”

I sagged in the chair. On my way to the coffee shop, I had already had an entire, fuck this, fuck that, fuck you conversation with myself, but as soon as I saw her, I, by the very own default nature of mine, wanted to be nice; give her a hug, ruffle her hair, tell her she is beautiful and all that. Basically, my feeling was: hello? Can we end this already? It is too much for me to handle, plus, I kinda, sorta, miss you.

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And after the long pause and more awkwardness, she decided to flinch her eyebrows, which I thought was an inappropriate reflex and also somewhat late in arrival. And then she removed her glasses, placed it on the table and said, “So when was the last time you’d actually noticed my hair?” Continue reading

A cocktail dinner at Mt. Olympus

The spotlight zoned in on my mother, after all she was Hera, wife of Zeus. And it wasn’t like mom wasn’t used to the spot light.

She stood there, a Cosmopolitan, swirling seductively in her dainty hands, nonchalantly laughing at a joke she devised out of her clever, witty little head. Her posse of similarly dressed friends, yet not as grand as my mother; laughed in sputters. Unsure whether it was a joke, and what was it that even made it funny.

I laughed loud, snorted, pretended to choke on my own bile and back slapped my mother garishly, in affectation of support at her pointless humour.

“Eris, what un-lady like behaviour is this?” She smiled sweetly at me. A smile that did not reach her eyes and promised threats of cutting me off my pocket money.

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Who’s your daddy?

 

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

Isabel

“Isabel, stop staring at your reflection in the window and come back here, you vain little slut” Shouted sister Mary. Just in time for Isabel to shiver at the pure vehemence in Sister Mary’s voice, and start trudging reluctantly towards the rest of her class mates. Sister Mary was the reason twelve years old Isabel hated school. It wasn’t just the fact that the old crone, with her gnarled fingers, wrinkled face and hateful words, was always out to get her. It was also because every story that Sister Mary told, from the bible, gave Isabel nightmares.

Right from the stories of Job, where a poor God fearing man was tortured by Satan for years. Job braved it all, from loosing his children to being physically tortured. All because God had a bet with Satan, that Job would go through every imaginable torture, yet not curse his God.

“Who does that?” Isabel would think. Who does that to their disciples?tumblr_lm3uwh92hx1qkh5eko1_500

The most fearsome of Bible’s tales was the obliteration of Sodom Continue reading

Bang for her buck

 

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

The Forest

They say the forest is enchanted, magical and mystical. Some say it is haunted, some say it is dark. Some hear the wailing of trees in the night beckoning them to ease the thirst of old gnarled roots, some feel whispers wafting in the dark, asking them to join the forest in its loneliness.

I stand here, old and gnarled like the roots of the forest trees. I stand before it, at the entrance, wondering if I should step in. The breeze beckons me inside, and the tall trees, bend into one another to form a dome, asking me to join them.

I mumble to myself, “yes…yes I am coming in. I know it is time.” An old, bitter man. Barely able to walk ten feet without a wheezing fit. Stooping to almost half my height, I don’t represent the truth. The truth of what I was, the truth about what has made me. To everyone else, except the forest, I am just another sweet old man.

I shuffle through the rustling leaves, fallen, crunching in excited chatter. The moist ground beneath me, feels soft, soft like that of Mary’s breasts, even her body. The way it would melt inside me, when I would take her in my arms.

Impatience grows, when the breeze whooshes past me, and the trees sway in an angry dance. The forest is asking me to hurry up. Mary always did that too. Asking me to pick up my pace. Mary was always running somewhere, always impatient. As if, she was forever in a race against time. She walked faster, ate faster, made love faster, lived faster, except dying. Dying was slow; it took hours for the life to disappear from her eyes.

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I am almost half a mile inside the forest now, the trees rejoice in an elegant ballet of vacillating branches. They are not lonely anymore. I smirk, “So much, so much like my Mary.” Just like her, the forest too, couldn’t stand loneliness. And just like her, the forest too would invite any stranger into its home, to feel less forlorn, to feel a head rush, a passing adventure, a temporary joyride, a momentary fling.

“I am coming, I am coming.” I shout out loud. Somewhere deep into the woods, I hear the forest wailing. A cry; a loud mewling of a baby, who has been denied food for a long, long time. A baby who can sense its mother about, a baby demanding the attention it deserves.

I shuffle further inside the winding narrow mud paths, created by the young, energetic feet of trekkers and campers. They are a complex network of veins that carry blood into the pumping heart of the forest. The wailing grows louder, whinier and impetuous. My shuffling grows faster, sure and eager. I don’t want to keep the forest waiting anymore.

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An Old Carton

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“Sweets, get going!!  We’re all waiting for you.”

“All?”

“Just come, will you? The heat is killing me, I’m going to kill you if you don’t come over in five.”

Would she be with them? The Chitra Basu. In her faded floral palazzo pants billowing in the warm summer wind, cat-eye sunglasses catching the glare of the sun and her lush locks shrouding half her beautiful face, brushing her supple pink unpainted lips. I picked my handbag, stashed some notes from the drawer, snatched the keys, locked the door and walked out before I could allow myself to hold back and hesitate. Continue reading

The inherent entanglement of headphone wires

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

Dopey Hopes

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Morning shower used to be fun. Research says that lonely people spend longer hours in warm showers. Now my only sliver of solace and warmth is disrupted by calls from the cab-drivers. They assign a different cab-driver every day and every driver is a new nightmare. Despite satellites tracking and streaming my precise location right into his goddamn phone, the driver inevitably prefers to call me up and – against a backdrop of dire honking – I must explain in excruciating detail the herculean journey he must undertake to reach me at Number 12, 17th Main.

The commute is too long for the distance but too short for me to listen to music. I don’t like music because music is a lie. When you don a headphone, you’re immersing yourself in a lie but when you must immerse yourself in a lie, it’s a shame when you can’t immerse yourself long enough. Continue reading

Here and There

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“Sometimes, I have these questions,” her father says, looking away from the TV. He has always had questions, more so now that he’s been retired for a decade and spends most of his waking hours in front of the TV.

“What keeps everything spinning? I mean the planets, around the sun, they’ve all been spinning for millennia, haven’t they? What keeps them going? Why don’t they just fall into the sun?”

“They would, eventually, I suppose.” She’s not too sure herself.

“Isn’t it fascinating?” He turns around to look at her with an earnestness of a precocious child. He looks older than the seventy or so years he has lived. His eyes have sunk and become dark and stoic. She remembers an afternoon, over lunch, when he’d kneeled down to feed the cat when she’d noticed the first signs of a bald patch. That was years ago when she wasn’t married and had barely just got into college. It was the year when there was a hailstorm in April; the year her mother coughed blood in their tiny blue sink; the year they moved out to the city in an apartment twenty minutes away from the hospital. Continue reading

Changing the channel

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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

He…She

He amused her,

She intrigued him.

He liked to hold tight,

She liked her space in the nights.

They first met for lunch,

He paid,

She ate.

Then for drinks,

And a night of uncomfortable snogging.

She gave it a month,

He gave it a few days.

They gave it another night,

It still didn’t feel right.

They met with friends about,

He had fun.

She had more fun with him around.

Maybe, they thought, maybe there was something like love to be found.

They created a routine,

Of texting, calling, meeting, sleeping.

He still liked to hold tight,

She still would put up a fight.

She had long hair, he loved to wrap around his hands and ride,

He had long legs, she longed to wrap her legs around and sleep.

He insisted on dropping her home every single time,

She cracked jokes about rapists waiting for her in the dark of the night.

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One night, after,

He held her and made her laugh for an hour,

She thought this could be what love looked like, when you watched above from a tower.

That night, she did not fight, instead slept in his arms,

It felt just right.

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Earthquake in California

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You sleep late and wake up early. You see the sunrise after months. The sky is vast; thistle in the west and a piercing vermillion in the east. You wonder whether it’s always this beautiful out here when you’re asleep in your bed with the curtains snugly drawn.

You arrive early to work but not early enough to have breakfast. You head over to the secure zone. You key in your PIN and step inside. It’s cold because it’s a refrigerator for sensitive customer data. Terminals that hum solemnly in front of you are processing a million online transactions. You’re unpacking your bag while a million people are leisurely scrolling through items, drawn in a vortex of increasingly irresistible AI powered recommendations. You dial in to the conference and try to connect to your desktop operating sixteen floors above you. You can’t. After a moment of hesitation, it occurs to you that you don’t need your desktop right away. You’ve made assumptions you’re not aware of; that you wouldn’t be aware of until it’s time.

After a couple of hours, it is time. You realize you need your desktop. You have a had a rough couple of hours where the scripts that were supposed to work didn’t and it took someone from Dublin to fix those for you Continue reading

A Mid-Winter Day’s Nightmare

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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

Of ghost towns and empty hearts

Laura drove her four by four, along a path that could best be described as flattened ground on a bulbous terrain, created by the constant patter of horse hoofs, ages ago. With a buoyant spurt of flora along the path, Laura realized that it was she who had revived it for her journey to Animas Fork, a ghost town in Colorado, after what must have been months or years perhaps. Her freshly aligned jeep tires effortlessly trampled every clueless growth along its path, as it made its way through the winding mountain to reach the top.

Just like its name, the approach route forked into sudden directions in an animated ballet of a mischievous elf. Driving up the path was like chasing Johnny across their massive yard that was almost always strewn with toys. 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!”

Laura laughed at the memory just as soon as tears trickled down her smiling face. She did not bother to wipe them away, instead she slowed down and 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 had looked away, and he had run down the road chasing a kitten; one flash of a truck with the driver distracted by his buzzing phone. One life lost.

Since then Laura’s life had been all about “what if’s”. What if she hadn’t looked away? What if the kitten had decided to cross Johnny’s path a second later? What if Johnny had been distracted just enough to miss seeing the kitten? What if the driver had kept his phone on silent? What if the call had come a second later?

The “what ifs” had haunted Laura for months and they still did. What if Johnny was still alive; she would not be dead inside.

It had been eleven months and twenty-three days now, and she was finally in a condition to take up a solo assignment. It was to create a photo diary of America’s ghost towns. She had already covered Centralia in Pennsylvania; Bodie in California and now it was Animas Fork, Colorado.

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The sun had hidden itself behind the horizon of an infinite sky. Millions of stars lit up clear Colorado skies, stars that peeked through tall pine trees lining the woods in a zigzag medley, dangerously claiming the path Laura rode on.

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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