My visions.. In my words.

June 21, 2011

Love.

Filed under: Very Short Stories — SR @ 7:37 am
She looked like a giant walrus as she slept. Occasionally, she even snored like one. Tonight was one of those occasions. The usual method of rolling her to one side wasn’t possible any more. My frail body didn’t have enough strength to push her and start the rolling. I did not have the will power either. Touching her would have meant a midnight argument which would only disturb the peace. Instead, I got off the bed and decided to leave.A few minutes later, I was packed and ready for my midnight road trip. I stood at my child’s bedroom door watching my daughter sleep. She looked like her princess Barbie doll. I must have stood there a long time. When I looked up, the faint light of dawn was already creeping through the window.Hurrying to my car, I threw the overnight bag in  the back and got into the driver seat. I tried starting the car, but the key stuck. A movement on my side sent a chill down my spine. I slowly looked around and nearly died. Walrus was in the rear passenger seat. Speechless for several moments, I stared. My mind raced about looking for a plausible explanation.

“Hello, Honey!”, I stammered. “I.. I thought I’d start the car so it would ready and warm. The damn old thing takes fifteen minutes to warm up these days. And look at the windscreen, all iced up too.” I could have gone on, but I noticed she wasn’t listening. She stared straight in front of her. Then, I heard a little snort. Her eyelids closed slowly. Moments later, the familiar snore.

My wife had sleep-walked into our car. I stood there clueless. Should I wake her? My body ached as I considered the idea. No. I decided. But the garage was very cold. Won’t she catch a cold? Even a fever? I liked the idea. Perhaps, she would catch pneumonia and go to the hospital. It would then be as if I’d left. For a few days at least.

I carefully removed my bag from her side, closed the door and stole back upstairs. As I rounded the bend in the spiral staircase, I saw my daughter standing at the top of the stairs, in her party dress. I stared at her for a moment and then started laughing silently.

My daughter was sleep-walking too.  In her sleep she’d gotten ready for her birthday party later that week. I draped her in her princess quilt and carried her back to her bed. Then, I went back down to wake up my wife. She awoke with a start, looked around her and went back to bed without a word. I went to my little study in the basement, sat in my favorite high-backed leather chair and tried to write my daily quota of words.

I stayed.

I slept soundly the next night until it was nearly light. A noise woke me up and memories of the previous night flashed across my eyes. I looked around. Walrus was snoring beside me. Through the open bedroom door,  I saw the little silhouette of my daughter sitting on the top step, again in her party dress. Like she’d done the evening before.

I got up, draped her in her princess quilt and carried her back to her bed.

June 20, 2011

Grandpa.

Filed under: Very Short Stories — SR @ 10:32 pm

As a child, I used to wait impatiently for summer holidays. It was a chance for me to meet up with a number of my cousins, discuss and make decisions about many issues of common concern. Ice-cream, alphonso mangoes,  fresh jack fruit and cricket usually tended to overcrowd our immediate collective agenda, but mostly, I used to look forward quite fondly to spending some more time talking with Grandpa.

 In my mind, he is a tired old man with a head where hair managed to grow only along the sides. In the Chennai heat, he would mostly wear a sheet of 100% white cotton called a mundu in our native Malayalam, the language of Kerala, South-western state of India.

Oddly, Grandpa used to stay in a suite at the top of his own hotel despite having a multi-room house with a yard and garage at only a walking distance nearby. We used to wonder why he didn’t stay with my grandma in the house; every time we asked about it, we were told, he stood guard over the hotel so that the rest of us slept peacefully. With the attention span of a humming bird in those days, this answer was sufficient to allow us to shift focus to more important matters like where the next ice-cream or alphonso mango was going to come from.

So every morning after breakfast and every afternoon after tea, I and some of my cousins would walk the few hundred metres between the hotel and the house to go see Grandpa. It was a good way for the elders to get rid of the kids so they can talk about more serious matters hanging heavy in their minds. Later when I grew up I learnt, these were mostly local gossip, shop-talk, property-inheritance matters and other such mundane things which I feel we kids wouldn’t have bothered in the first place.

After the customary orders of Rose milk (milk with strawberry and rose flavor) and Ragi malt (a special drink made from Ragi), we would happily huddle around him waiting expectantly. Grandpa would clear his throat with a unique characteristic sound signature which has stayed with me ever since.

Now when I think back I feel a tinge of emotion as I realize that he was a man groaning under the weight of many pressures- domestic and professional. He would start with a slightly long “Eh?” with a nasal tint of an “N” at the beginning making it sound slightly like “Nnneh?” if you can try to hear it in your mind’s ear. The sound would be followed by a resigned “Enda Chiya?” – Malayalam for “Alas! What is to be done now?”- fully wrapped in a thick layer of sighs. I used to enjoy it because I knew the thicker the layer the longer and deeper the life lesson. Somehow even when I was barely ten, I was quite interested in matters more philosophical than the earthy variety.

During the hour or two that followed, Grandpa would sermonise that we should always do the right thing and always pray to Bhagavathi – our family deity was the Hindu Goddess Shakti or Durga, who’s the consort of Lord Shiva the destroyer of all evil in Hindu mythology. Although, I cannot speak for my brothers and sisters his words sank deep into my soul and believed in them as the right thing to do.  Childhood was such a happy time because it was so easy to put everything into boxes colored either black or white. It was so easy to stay close to the white boxes. Little was I to know that soon this neat little world of sharp imagery would blur into a mist with all shades of grey with little black and little white.

Growing up, I realized I could lie a little, slack a little, lust a little and be greedy without  getting into trouble. The interesting part was finding out grey was the new white. Some called it being on a “need-to-know” basis.  With employment, . Vacation time became discretionary and smart(-y-alec) work almost always trumped hard work. If I worked hard, someone else worked harder. Ultimately, “fitting-the-curve” became a great leveler.

And at such times, when the annual performance appraisal comes near,  I remember Grandpa’s advice and start to chant “Bhagavathi, Bhagavathi..”

Irony.

Filed under: Uncategorized — SR @ 9:34 am

The holy man was on a fast unto death against corruption. Five thousand devotees looked on with respect and admiration as he sat in a meditation. They were resting after helping build a makeshift podium of dried scrap wood planks and wooden poles used for such temporary occasions. Cellphones were set to vibrate mode and they did so ceaselessly.

TV crews set up camp from day two. On day three, the gathering swelled dramatically. People streamed in from all directions to support the dying man. Politicians arrived on day four. Negotiations started with the baba’s representatives to achieve an acceptable compromise before the baba’s health started to fail. With a wave of his hand, the baba stopped the discussions. He demanded nothing less than a direct statement from the Prime Minister.

On day five, the entire nation was talking about it. Bookies started taking bets on how many days the God-man will last. Housewives set up shrines in their homes. Children started going on hunger strikes to get their favorite barbies and toy airplane assembling kits. Businesses had to deal with mass-sick leaves and otherwise empty long-distance trains were jammed with people heading to the fakir’s tent.

Elsewhere, on Day 7, another man died unknown. He too fasted against corruption.

Rage.

Filed under: Very Short Stories — SR @ 12:42 am
Tags:

It was around 10 in the evening. I was in my study at the back of the house trying to write. Recently, to make ends meet, I had taken a job at a local Sunday paper writing a weekly story for their flash fiction column. I had two days to turn in my copy and I had nothing.

For a long time, I sat staring at the lamp. It was the only one in my study and it had no shade. I looked at the naked bulb. Suddenly, the room plunged into darkness. I heard a faint squeak which might have been a house-lizard or my rickety chair.

“Electricity just went. Stay where you are. I’ll get a torch.” My wife called through from the hall. Seconds later, a torch shone in my face and I raised my hand to shield from its glare. “Hey! Turn it away from my face.” But, the light stayed. “Bitch! I said, turn it away. Don’t make me come after you.” I squinted to help my eyes adjust to the glare.

She held a knife in one raised hand. The trembling fingers made it flash like a neon sign on steroids. Fear and confusion gripped me. “What are you doing? Watch that knife..”

Searing pain rushed through me a split second after the knife entered my left shoulder. My chair tipped back and I crashed to the tiled floor hitting my right elbow as I braced. I screamed.

“Scream!” She said, “Like our baby did. When you killed her.”

My left hand was immobile. Using my other hand, I dragged myself away from her towards the wall. Her eyes were ablaze. Maybe it was the torch light. Maybe she was possessed. I don’t know.

My fingers found the corner of the frame of our backdoor. I turned and scrambled for the door knob. I stepped backward to open the door and banged right into her again. I yelled and flew through the door into the night. Somehow, I stumbled onto the street. I ran in pitch darkness, turning first this way, then that. When lights came back on, I stopped and looked around. I’d run clear out of my neighborhood onto the main street leading into town center.

I heard a car moments before I saw the headlights. Just then, the adrenalin receded and the pain hit again. The road, the headlights, the signal started swimming around me. I threw up my hands and dropped to my knees like a muslim at Friday prayers.

The car slowed down as it approached me. Its lights were in my eyes and I shielded my eyes until they passed me. The pain came back stronger and blurred my vision. I could make out a twisted blue fender. The door opened and fair, stocking clad legs wearing red, high heels stepped out. So familiar. It was our car.

I looked up and she stood looking divine in her wedding dress. She smiled and shook the meat knife in her hand.

“It wouldn’t have come to this. It shouldn’t have, *Honey*. But, we exchanged vows. Until Death do us part. I can’t break my promise, can I?”

I jerked backward and pulled myself up off the street with my good arm, turned and ran. Heels pounded behind me. Sweat was pouring down my face. My shoulder and my arthritic knees alternately screamed for rest. I could hear her closing the gap.

I saw flashing red-and-blue lights coming toward me. I heard the siren. I ran faster, waving desperately. I stumbled, fell and rolled on the grass. “Help!”, I managed in high pitch.

“Drop the knife, lady, or we shoot.”

Someone spoke into a radio. “We need an ambulance. Corner of Hedgewood and Main. It looks like a knife wound.” I lay dazed for an eternity looking up at the stars.

“Sir! Can you hear me? Squeeze my hand once if you can.”

“What’s his name?”

“No papers on him. For god’s sake, he’s in his pajamas.”

“Sir! Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.”

“”Punish me, Lord, for I have sinned.” Tears blinded me. “I killed my little girl. With my own hands.” I cried.

“I’ll kill him, I’ll..” My wife yelled and struggled to get free.

“Calm down lady.”

“He killed her in his rage. He was angry with me. Angry, I had an affair.” She sobbed.

The road started to swim around me. My tears were flowing freely now.

“Why didn’t you take it out on me, you bastard? Like you always do. Why her?” Her body shook. It was the last thing I heard before I blacked out.

Today, they let me attend her funeral. They said she’d died of epileptic seizures. Apparently, she’d been having the fits for years. Ever since our only daughter died.

Drop!

Filed under: Very Short Stories — SR @ 12:17 am
Tags:

A drop rolled down the edge of the coffee mug and hung precariously for several seconds. Then it let go of its moorings and hurtled into the unknown. It landed amongst strangers who strangely allowed it to blend in with them without question or trial. How was it to know that the delicately woven fibers of the red Persian Carpet it had just met had been trod upon too often to care anymore.

Together they all looked up as a great shadow fell on them bringing twilight along with it. A human being was bent over rolling up the carpet. Almost instantly, pitch darkness engulfed them. The drop and its fibre friends felt being lifted and turned over and over. Then all was silent except for the occasional tremor as the van carrying the carpet went over a pothole.

Weeks of musty darkness later, a great, magnified eye found the drop and extracted into light. Was this the heaven everyone talked about? The drop wondered. Strangely, it looked like a glass test-tube her previous owner had handled in what was called “Chemistry” lab.

Without warning, the world around started to spin faster and faster. The last time it had felt like this, a Tornado had passed over a little town in Louisiana. Soon, it lost all consciousness. When it awoke again, it was still in the tube, but barely whole.

Just then, a human sounding voice gave a celebratory whoop of having met success and said, “The DNA samples matched. We’ve found the killer.”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.