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