A Fairytale

“Why are the letters running up and down?”, a pair of five year old eyes looked at me in surprise.
“Because I want them to do some exercise.”, my disgruntled eyes were fixed on the frenzied movement of my blog page, my finger on the scroll button.
“Stop! You’re hurting the letters, they’re tired already!”
Sigh. If only he knew what a writer’s block is. I kept deleting old posts out of frustration.
“Can I tell you a story?”, he looked at me eagerly. “I have made it up.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Once upon a time”, his eyes sparkled brightly, “there was a poor girl. She lived in a dirty, old house. She sobbed and sobbed, she was very sad.”
“Did a pretty fairy come and help her?”
“No, but there lived a princess opposite to her house. The poor girl saw the princess wear beautiful dresses and shoes. She wanted them too. They were green and blue and sparkly. But she didn’t have any, so she went back to weeping. She thought that a pretty fairy would surely come to her rescue, or a prince, like in all your stories. But no one came. So after some time, she wiped her eyes, got up and went to play in the forest.”
“So she never wanted those dresses again?”
“No, she decided she’s better off without them. What if the large frog swallowed her seeing all the glitter on her clothes?”, he widened his eyes.
There was a sound at the main entrance. The little boy ran to the window and shouted with joy, “There she is! I can go and play outside now.”, and off he went barely mouthing a bye.
With a smile I clicked on the “new post” button on my blog.

Via Daily Post: Forest

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The weapon

He was later than usual. The night was very dark, it had also started snowing outside. All he carried was a cleaver in his hand. There was a slight wobble in his steps. Was he drunk?

The room was dark and quiet. He lit a candle, then took off his patched woollen coat and hung it on the peg. He lifted the hem a little- the blood had already dried and was almost invisible. Dried mud was stuck to the cloth. His coat smelled of fish, it was full of bloodstains. You cannot expect a butcher to take his coat off at work in this cold, especially when he can’t afford any other clothing. The stains were all dried and looked like rust. One cannot easily make out because of the dark wool and the dirt stuck to it. The stains looked more like a subtle pattern now, almost like a pretty design in the otherwise plain coat, he thought. He admiringly stared at his coat for a while. It looked pretty, he thought. Even if it smelled of fish and blood all day. He didn’t really mind the blood, he hadn’t decided about the fish yet.

He had placed the cleaver on the small table near the door. He looked down at it with the same air of admiration, feeling the dried trails of blood. He picked it up and walked to other door at the end of the room. A gush of ice cold wind hit him as he threw away the weapon he used to kill the man, and shut the door.

Snowflakes steadily gathered on the sharp metal outside.

Escape thoughts

I tried looking around quickly, they were locking the door again. I wanted to devour the whole room with my eyes in the limited time. Failed. The thin ray of dusty light disappeared at once as he closed the strong iron door behind him. This iron cell is meant for me. It gives me some pleasure to think that I cannot be contained in cement rooms with wooden doors. But being a prisoner is not nice anyway. A shudder ran down my spine. Do I have to spend the rest of my life here? It’s so damp. They’ve probably never opened this room before. A cockroach ran across the room. I could feel sweat trickling down. I think they looked like silver beads. They generally do. I cannot see in the dark. But I need to leave this room. I cannot see anything. It is too dark in here, there are no windows. No cracks and no holes. Crawled from one end to the other. The floor is sticky, dirt stuck to my moist palms. There aren’t any ventilators either I think. I looked up at the ceiling. I cannot see it. I am getting weaker day by day. Before they come with their tubes and vials tomorrow, I need to leave. I am scared of them. You shall think it’s a joke. I am formless, but a chameleon nonetheless. I peep inside human beings, and I seep in, slowly. Like water in crevices. And that’s how I win over. Usurp their lives. Limit them, cripple them, overcome their minds. I occupy very little space. Sleep inside a tiny oval structure, the size of a nut- amygdala. But it surprises even me to sometimes think of the things I’m capable of. It’s a nasty thing, you’d say. But who has ever won over hunger? Hunger for power. Sans shape, sans teeth, sans form, I have to exercise my power in every way I can. Scared of losing my identity, I started crawling frantically once again, on the seemingly never ending wall. I wish I knew what colour the wall was. I laughed at my fate. I feel scared. Fear. A restless feeling in a non existant heart. Like falling off a cliff. Or drifting away in the sea. Mapless. That’s how you describe me, I’ve heard. I’ve already spent countless hours in this room, spent from trying to find an escape route. Should I accept defeat? Should I stay here and watch them recreating me, reproducing me in more powerful ways, be content with it? After all, my purpose is being fulfilled. But they can’t strip me of my power. You cannot live feeling inferior. They’re using me to do what I am supposed to do after all. They are supposed to fear me too. I cannot be trapped. I have to run away. I fidget in the dark. My eyes are aching from relentless attempts to look in the darkness. You think of my insidious motives and shudder when alone, but the apparent sweetness in stretched smiles of your fellow beings is more wretched than my business. They come here everyday. They come in suits and glasses and polished shoes. Sometimes, they wear cheap nylon shirts too. They caught me with their tricks and tools. They are clever. Cut me up in formless polygons and squeeze out my strength. I am mixed with vibrant chemicals, stored in air conditioned rooms. Or they make thin barrels and triggers out of me. And egg shaped shells which induce fear.

Via Daily Post:  Identity

Fear

Mr. Bhusan was up at five in the morning as usual. Hastily washing his face, he opened the small window by the wooden table and got down to finishing his latest novel. It was the thirty-third draft, which he was about to discard, out of his eternal, persistent fear. Mr. Bhusan has remained an aspiring writer from his teenage, owing to the fact that he never managed to complete any of his works in over two decades. How could he? He has always suffered from an intense fear, almost like a phobia- his fear of unknowingly writing something that already exists. Of course the ideas could be similar, but what if his entire work turned out to be an unintentional copy of someone else’s work?

It all started some twenty-five years back, when Mr. Bhusan won a prize at his college for an essay. Since then, he decided to become an author. He confided in his sister his dreams, who had playfully remarked, “Beware, you might write something which already exists, and you won’t even know.” Alas, what was said in innocent humour proved to be Mr. Bhusan’s biggest fear. He wrote dozens of poems, expressing his love for doe-eyed women who he hadn’t met; tons of pages, novels about lost empires, heart-breaking tales about failed marriages and about anything possible under the heavens. But he never built up the guts to read them out in close circles of family or friends, let alone publish it. He wrote pages and pages and tore them down to unidentifiable pieces. There was his reason, lying in the open- who knew if some author hasn’t already penned down exactly the same things? He would be laughed at by the others. Or worse, people would call him a cheat. He was scared for a reputation which he hadn’t built, in the first place. He never had the nerve to show anyone his works. He stared blankly, his hands shook and the soles of his feet went ice-cold when someone even vaguely mentioned of his literary practices.

After years of struggle, when last Sunday, he almost convinced himself of the originality of his work, like he had done before on rare occasions, he headed to the publishers. But as always, halfway to the office, he had to stop. His heart beat crazily, sweat broke out all over his face and there were visions of him standing upon a podium and his readers throwing his book at him, along with paper balls and eggs. All he could manage was to take a sharp about turn, and walk back home rapidly.

But the good thing about him, or so he thought, was that he did not discard his dream of becoming a writer. So he woke up early in the morning everyday to finish a few hours of writing before he went to the kitchen to prepare lunch for his wife, who was a professor, and very particular about timing. Presently, he was intently working on his thirty-fourth draft, when his wife’s shrill cry broke his trance. “I don’t know how I fell for an aspiring writer and still staying with the same aspiring writer after nineteen years. My life is a farce!”, screamed an infuriated Padma. Mr. Bhusan sighed, and quickly got up to go to the kitchen, so that his wife could leave the house as soon as possible. She wouldn’t understand. He needed a peaceful environment to think, concentrate and write. Probably this time, he would make it to the publishers…

Via Daily Prompts:

Farce

Conveyor Belt

Raman stared earnestly at the conveyor belt, his face, a clear reflection of anxiety. A resident of the rural town of Mannpur, this was the first time Raman left his town, and travelled to the city on a plane. Dressed in a spotless white dhoti, Raman slowly and carefully went through each procedure until he got into the plane. 

Sitting stiffly with his seatbelt on and eyes closed, Raman somehow spent two hours and hurried outside as soon as the flight landed. With a lot of help from the ground forces, he found the conveyor belt. He was awed at the mechanism of the flat, moving belt carrying everyone’s luggage. He decided that collecting his stuff from the conveyor belt would certainly be the most fascinating part of his journey. After missing his luggage, and mistaking another’s for his own a few times, Raman finally gathered his bags after half an hour. The place was almost empty. But he soon realised that he didn’t collect his box of mangoes. He frantically started looking for his box around him. It was nowhere to be seen. The empty belt kept moving in a single direction. He tried looking for the flight staff, but he was the only person standing around the  moving belt. Raman walked all the way to the other side, then back. Didnt find his box of mangoes. Frustrated, he even tried peeping inside through the rubber strips. In a moment of wild despair he considered climbing on the belt and take a look inside, but decided otherwise. They must’ve stolen it- Raman thought. But he had heard that airport authorities take special care of passengers’ luggages. But what else could’ve happened to his mangoes? After waiting for ten whole minutes before the mesmerising belt, he turned around walked towards the exit with a heavy heart. He was convinced that his box was stolen. Raman was almost at the exit, when a solitary cardboard box came up through the rubber curtain. The lonesome box took a full round and a second one and came up for the third. Raman was already on a taxi, on his way to his hotel.

For a Day

It was an unusual day. He, with a torn towel on his shoulder,  zealously swept the floor and wiped the glass windows. It was a big day for the small roadside eatery. A film scene was to be shot at the place. The hero and Miss Priya would be shown drinking coffee. So he also polished the cups till they shone. Actually, he was more excited about the actress than anything else. He never missed her movies. She was beautiful. She danced well. Her voice was that of a nightingale. She was his secret fantasy.

He was cleaning tables when the crew arrived. Within moments the eatery was crowded with people, with cameras, large lights, microphones. Some people were carrying clothes. The actors were surrounded by security. He earnestly tried to look for Miss Priya. But there were too many people. His master welcomed a few important looking people inside and tried shooing him away, who was eagerly waiting for a glimpse of his favourite actress. As he turned to retreat into the kitchen, looking crestfallen, a man with a beard called out to him. The man wanted him to casually clean the tables in the background when the actors would drink coffee. For a second he couldn’t believe his ears. He would be shot too. He would be sharing a screen with his favourite actress. He couldn’t contain his happiness. Vigorously shaking his head, he responded in agreement. Later, during the shoot, he was lost in his effort in cleaning tables. Never in these five years had he cleaned that surface with such determination. His trance was broken by a fellow, who approached him and handed out two hundred rupee notes. When he looked up, he saw the crew packing up. The actors were nowhere in sight. None of the other important looking people were around. The boy handed him the money and left without a word. 

Quickly shaking off the vague feeling of sadness, his imagination took flight. Probably it was his start, he would slowly become famous, directors would notice his hard work and his fearless presence before the camera. And they’d call him. And someday, he too, would sing and dance with the lady of his dreams. He would hold her hands on mountain tops and near waterfalls, walk on white sand beaches, in ornate gardens, or on American streets. Twisting and turning in his small bed at one end of the eatery, he didn’t realise when he had drifted off to sleep, smiling to himself.

But on all the following mornings, he woke up to the yells of an angry master and carried on with work, the torn towel on his shoulder.

Scribble Series #6

I have been standing for almost a couple hours. This is getting harder for me by the minute. I can feel cold sweat trickling in slow motion down the sides of my cheeks, and patches of sweat on my eyebrows, tickling me uncomfortably. My glasses keep slipping off. Standing behind at least fifty people, in the considerably large hall, furnished with designer desks and chairs and cobwebs hanging from the yellowed ceiling, I’m profusely sweating in spite of the chilly November cold. I can feel an overwhelming numbness approaching my left leg. My wristwatch says I have half an hour before my next insulin shot, which I cannot miss. A quick mental calculation tells me that I only have fifteen minutes to reach the counter and finish my business after which I have to walk back home, wash my hands and feet, without which my wife wouldn’t let me take a step inside the house; and take the shot. I wish I hadn’t retired. Then I wouldn’t have to stand in this stupid queue every month, waiting to collect my pension. 

The queue is moving faster now. I check my wristwatch again. I still have five minutes and there are ten more people ahead of me. I can now see the man behind the counter. I stare at him like a hawk fixes his gaze upon his prey. The number of people before me reduces by the moment. And finally, I am standing behind just one customer. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand and re-adjust my glasses, regaining motivation to wait some more. But this customer seems to take an eternity. My patience magically vaporizes. The numbness in my leg is reappearing. Fresh beads of sweat break out on my skin. And there- she is done. As I eagerly rush to the front of the counter, a mechanical voice echoes across the hall- “All functions shall resume after lunch”. The man behind the counter throws at me a swift glance and leaves his seat. 

This story is purely a work of fiction and has no resemblance to actual services at the bank or any such sector.