Tag Archives: short story

The Rose.

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“Ouch,” she uttered, pulling back her finger from the rose stem. A thorn had pricked her and a drop of blood lay on her finger, perfectly placed like it always belonged there. She smiled.

“Got yourself another prick, did you now?” her husband asked, as he sat in the hall, immersed in the morning’s papers on his iPad.

“Why can’t he just buy those traditional newspapers?” she wondered. She wasn’t an e-paper girl.

“Why don’t you hire a gardener for your plants?” he asked, the umpteenth time. “You keep pricking yourself.”

She didn’t answer. The umpteenth time. He wouldn’t be able to come to terms with it.

The first time she’d pricked herself was when her first lover had brought her some from his own garden, ten years ago.They’d never gotten married. But her love for him had not died.

He loved her rose garden. He was coming for dinner tonight.

The first prick had made her squirm. Now it made her smile.

Graciously Yours!

Of People and Things.

Naksh was singing at the top of his voice! “Papparah Papparah Papparah… Badtameez Dil Badtameez Dil… Ahh… Haan

“Oh shut that radio thing off and stop jumping on the bed,” Shailjaa scolded her eight year old son, Naksh!

No longer jumping, he smiled at her and stood there, the hand held radio his father bought as a gift, still blaring what people called music these days!

She was still angry at him but this child of hers could not be least bothered! He’d misplaced her earrings and she couldn’t find it anywhere. She was sure she’d given to him to go and keep it by the bedside table. She’d even boxed his ears two hours ago but he came back and sat beside her in no time! Now he was jumping on the bed unashamed.

“Get out,” she said, dropping the freshly ironed bed covers and pillow cases on the bed. “I have to change the bed sheet.”

“Mummy, I am sorry,” he said, and walked out of the room, forlorn and dejected, head hung.

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Shailjaa didn’t reply.

She pulled off the old covers angrily. Unfurling the new covers, she went to the headboard side and struggled to pick up the mattress alone to push the new covers beneath. Something fell from behind the mattress onto the floor beneath. She bent down and looked under the four poster bed. Two pieces of gold shone out to her. One within her reach, the other rolled off to the other end. She crawled under the bed and got her hands on both the pieces. She craned her neck upwards to look at the bed from under. A coffee flavored toffee was sticking out from behind the mattress, fighting gravity, pinched in place. She pulled it out too and crawled back out from under the bed. She sat on the floor, head resting on the bed, turning the earrings back and forth. They were the ones for which she’d boxed her son’s ears. She felt terrible, devastated almost. She now recalled picking it from the bedside table and having kept it on the bed. They must have gotten wedged between the mattress and the headboard during the course of the night. She lay her head on her knees and held herself close. She sat that way for more than a few minutes and swore to herself she’d put people over things here onwards.

Getting up from her place on the floor, she went out of the bedroom to look for her son. He was standing in the balcony, listening to the radio. She snuck up behind him and dangled the toffee in front of his eyes. He whirled around and smiled broadly. But then he saw her face and his smile dimmed a little. Her heart pricked.

“You want this?” she asked him.

He shook his head.

She felt sad.

But then he said, “I want the mango flavor.”

Her heart jumped with joy! “I’ll get you those later. Right now, will you please help me with covering the bed?” she asked.

He nodded her head vigorously. Then he raised a finger and asked, “Can I jump on the bed after that?”

“Yes, we both will,” she said, laughing.

Beaming with joy, he ran towards the room, and she noticed as she followed him, that his radio was lying in the balcony. She picked it up and placed it on the table – a lesson learnt.

Graciously Yours!

Bed of thorns.

He sat with his hands folded in salutation. Once a while, a pair of legs would pass by him. He’d put out his open palms asking for alms. Sometimes, someone would drop a fruit or a sweet, other times a couple of coins. Some would walk away without leaving anything behind. Every time he’d get some food, he’d run down the stairs of the temple, take a left, then the first right into an alley, into the slum where he stayed in their one room house.

His mother was lying on the bed, her skin hot to touch, beads of sweat adorning her forehead while the temperature was dipping to single figures. The neighbour had asked him to keep feeding her from time to time. His father came home weekly. He’d seen his father three days ago. Whenever father would come, he’d bring some money and food. But today, the son was the bread earner of the house.

He kept his collected coins behind his pile of school books, fed his mother a sweet or two and ran back to the temple. The eight year old had a lot of work to do.

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Graciously Yours!

After All This While? Always.

“You don’t know anything about me,” he said.
“I know. But I am trying to. Doesn’t that count?”
They had started as lovers, failed and then tried becoming friends.

As she sat by him at his hospital bed tonight, she thought of this conversation. Ten years had passed since then. They were no longer lovers and barely friends. But when she came to know he was ill, she dropped everything to be by his side.

Sitting across from the bed was his wife. Her hair had greyed too early. She looked at her, sending the wife vibes of strength. They both knew of their role in his life. And his honesty would bring them together as friends for life.

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Graciously Yours!

 

The Hope?

He sent his father away for breakfast. It was ticking 10 AM. She would be coming over  any time to the shop now. And there she was, clad in a sari, hiding all possible parts with the six yards of cloth. She had a beautiful body, one she should have been flaunting had it not been marred with red, blue, purple and brown. Her eyes showed what the clothes hid.

His eyes lit up and smile broadened whenever he saw her. And when she looked at him and smiled, his wings fluttered to fly! She handed him a list of groceries required. Their hands touched. Neither pulled away. They both knew they wanted it. It was her console and his concern.

 “How are you today?” he asked, while slowly picking out items from the shelves. There was no hurry. There never was.

“Same as yesterday. Same as every day. Existing.”

She was morose today. Anyone in her shoes would be.

“You’ll start living soon.”

“Will I now?”

“Yes,” he said with a conviction she admired in him. He was the reason she had more purple than red.

“He touches you again and it’ll be all over, okay?” he asked her, handing her the packet.

He took the money she gave him and put it aside in a drawer his father knew nothing about.

“I’ll give him a week at the most. He’s a rotten fellow.”

“A week it is then,” he said, looking at her. Her sad smile spiked a pain in his chest. He knew she wasn’t an infatuation. And he let her know. Every damn day.

“I love you,” he said, his parting words.

“I do, too,” she said softly, her day already feeling better and brighter.

He watched her walk away. She was married. She was elder to him. Theirs was a match the society would frown upon.

But he had taken to her like salt to sea. He was her only hope and she his beacon of light. Together they would alight the horizon.

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Graciously Yours!

The Love?

Contd from “The Ideal?”

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He re-read the letter again in the dimness of the street light streaming in through the window. There was no mention of what really was going on at their place. He liked it that way. Folding the letter inside the envelope, he put it back in the diary where it belonged. He treaded lightly towards the cupboard and kept the diary on top of it. Looking at the woman sleeping on his bed, face towards him, the light unable to flit across her face, he smiled at her lovingly. He rubbed the gashes on the knuckles of his left hand. The gashes were so old, he now referred to them as birth marks. They were signs of his father’s love.

The naive woman thought he didn’t know she wrote to her mother. He loved her for how she covered for him. She really did love him. Was that how his mother was too? Nah, she was better. She never fought back, never talked back. She was always the loving mother, dutiful wife. She didn’t even show her tears to his father ever. His wife had a lot to learn. But she would  – with time. He was sure. Maybe it was time for a lesson soon.

He loved his wife a lot. The marks on her body showed that bright and loud. That was the only love he knew. That was the only love he’d ever known.

To be contd…

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.

The Ideal?

Her eyes teared up as she wrote another long, lying letter to her mother. A letter which would give away nothing of what was happening to her, which killed her bit by bit from guilt every time she thought of her mother.

Her mother had always been her best friend. She still was. But this time she couldn’t share her happiness with her mother. Or her pain. She looked at herself in the mirror across the bed. She saw her blurred self lying on the bed, papers piled up neatly on a hard bound dictionary. She covered her bosom with her saree. The red marks around her neck didn’t need a mirror as a reminder.

She was in love. With a man not her husband. She was in pain. With a man her husband.

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To be contd…

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.

Bloodied Hell.

Theresa sat across the table from her boyfriend, Brandon. She lightly patted his hands. She looked at them. His nails were chipped, chewed at in places. There were patches of blue around his nails. She looked up at him and then looked away. She needed to be sure.

“Will you now tell me where have you been all these days? Or am I still being too clingy? You need more space?” Theresa asked, looking at the blank wall on her right. She didn’t want to look him in the eye, to show him that she was afraid and weak. Not at this point.

“Oh come on, love. You know I like my freedom. But that doesn’t mean it’ll change my love for you. Well, as long as you believe in me, I know I can make it,” Brandon said, smiling at her. He wished she’d look her in the eyes. He needed her right now and he needed her fast and close.

“Oh, someone is being charming!” she said suddenly, angry that he took her for granted.

“Someone is being cocky,” he said, surprised at her sudden change in body language.

“You used to be charming. Now you no longer are charming. And I no longer concerned. You’re like all the others now. In fact, you’re worse. Because you were once better than all of them. But now? No. No longer.” She looked him straight in the eye as she said it. She was sure he was hiding something.

“You have so much to say about me? What about you? What do you have to say about yourself?”

“What about me?” Theresa asked, waiting for him to let out steam.

“You put yourself on the pedestal like you’re someone special. To reach out to you we have to be special and different. But that is only from your eyes. If you see the world from our eyes, you’re no different from all other girls who like to lure guys in, to make them believe that they’re the one and then drop us like hot potatoes when they see us for who we really are.” She did not expect this! Steam it was, but the wrong one.

“You really want to pick this fight right now? You think I am dropping you like a hot potato? I have been a part of your life for the past four years now. Or is it five?” she asked, thumping her fist on his open palm. He grunted in surprise, more from the suddenness of it than the power behind it.

“But you? I just remember shades of you moving in and out of my life for your own pleasure and in your own time. I shouldn’t have ever picked you up in the first place.” She was now standing. She had tears of anger in her eyes.

“Hey. Hey. I get it. Don’t cry! I was just kidding around with you. I am sorry. You know we’re going to be fine. Come on, baby.” Brandon was trying to get her back before things went too far.

“Don’t baby me!” she wanted to scream. But to him, sitting there in his orange overalls, to wipe out that smile which had floored her once, she said, “Whatever you may think of me and I may think of you, the fact is – you have blood on your hands and I do not.”

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She saw his face going white. Her words had had the desired effect. She smiled.

“I think it’s time we made a clean break from our relationship and move on. And while you are at it, you might as well find yourself a new lawyer.”

Graciously Yours!

The House That Wasn’t. Part 0

Continued from

5 years, 2 months and 19 days ago – 7:30 PM.

Pankaj was trying to close shop as fast as possible. The skies were overcast. He’d decided to leave this town too. He wasn’t sure how safe it was for Tara now. The residents were getting suspicious. Tara was his daughter. He’d lost her mother to a witch hunt three years ago. He was afraid of Tara’s fate too. She was nine but her thoughts hadn’t progressed accordingly. Just like her mother’s. The ‘doctors’ said she was mad. He didn’t believe them. But he didn’t tell anyone about his daughter either.

He made the last sale of the day and hurriedly cycled down to his place. He couldn’t figure out why he was a nervous wreck. He felt something ominous would happen. He shut the door behind him.

Tara’s voice was drifting from the floor above. She often spoke to her toys. “Tara, I am home,” he called out.

She didn’t answer. He walked into the bedroom, onto her toys strewn all over the place.

He could see his daughter hiding behind the bedpost. Walking towards her, he kept asking, “Where is Tara today?” She giggled. He happened to glance outside the window to see a group of people walking towards his house.

Picking her up gently, tickling her so she didn’t protest, he explained to her slowly, “Daddy and you will play a little game now. I’ll hide you and you will keep quiet for five minutes. Okay?”

The bell rang.

“Did Tara understand?” he asked hurriedly.

“Yes, Daddy,” she answered softly.

The bell rang again.

Hoping she had actually understood, he put her down behind the bed again.

Now they were banging on the door.

He hurried down.

There were some kids hiding behind the men. Questions rained down on him. “What have you done to the house? The children say they hear voices from the house. The house throws stones at us, they say. Our children are afraid to come to this part of the town.”

“No, there’s no one in here except me. I am sure your kids must be mistaken!” He sounded confident but didn’t look the least.

Just then, he faintly heard Tara’s voice. He hoped the others hadn’t! To douse it out, he began, “Now if you’re done, excuse me, I have to make my dinner.”

But they had. “Wait. What’s that?” He prayed, she would remember he’d asked her to be quiet! But as fate would have it, she spoke again. This time louder. It spooked out the men. The children ran away to a distance.

“That’s nothing. Just the skies perhaps.” He tried shutting the door, but they were quicker. They barged in. Two men pinned him to the door.

“There’s nothing to fear. Please leave me alone,” he pleaded. He looked at the children standing a few feet away. They looked frightened – of the house or the brutality, he wouldn’t know.

The men split up to search the house. Some took out knives, some had hand-held pistols. Hearing all the commotion downstairs, Tara peeked out of the room. The little child thought they were playing hide and seek with her! She ran to another room laughing!

The laughter spooked them. The men rushed upstairs, each scared but none admitting. The peals of thunder and flashes of lightning were not helping!

“If only Tara would sit quietly in one place,” Pankaj thought. But as soon as she saw a pair of feet coming up the stairs, she braced herself to scare her father. Giggling, blissfully unaware of the danger looming on her and her father, she jumped out of her hiding place, peals of her joyous laughter pulsating through the house! She wanted to scare the man whose feet she’d seen, but death scared her instead.

Screams were followed by thunders outside and cocked guns inside! One of those bullets hit the child and it was the last time laughter was heard in that house.

Until… 5 years, 2 months and 19 days later when…

“She had stopped laughing but the house hadn’t.

Fear crept in her eyes too.”

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Graciously Yours!

Happy anniversary, indeed!

The last piece of cake was smeared on his face!
“Twenty years of marriage! What’s the secret?” asked a colleague in jest!
“You agree more than you disagree. And you learn to shut up!” Sameer replied at once.
“At least there’s someone who can shut Sameer up,” they joked!
Only they didn’t know it was a joke.

Like every night, that night too he went back from office to find his dinner laid at the table. Hers was however missing. He checked his text messages. An unread message from her said she’d return late after dinner.

Post dinner, he returned to his room – his part of the house.

Normally, he’d have slept after reading a book for an hour or so but he’d expected today to be different. He’d wanted it to be different. Probably he should have made it different. By his bedside was their picture. From one of the early vacations in their marriage, when they were still young and so much in love! Time and tide waits for no man and didn’t wait for them either. They both took each other and time for granted. Constant fights and tiffs led to so much disagreement that they found it easier to live in separate rooms. Yet, surprisingly either didn’t want to leave because they still enjoyed each other’s company. It was a strange situation. And had been for more than a couple of years now.

For some reason unknown to him altogether, he walked over to his wife’s room today. Her room was so much neater than his. He could smell her in there. Nandini’s bedside had a picture of theirs too. A more recent one. In front of it, lay a slightly wilted rose. Surprised, he went and picked it up. A note lay beneath, “Wait up for me today, will you? Happy anniversary!”

***

She came home an hour later. He was barely managing to keep his eyes open, but the minute she walked into the hall, sleep left him for the night. And for good! Her tired eyes smiled on seeing her husband waiting.

“How did you know?” he asked, as she came and sat beside him.
“I was hopeful,” she said, barely meeting his gaze.

She nestled herself in his arms and every single fight that they’d had over the years seemed to melt away in that moment.

Probably, this was their second chance.

Night smiled as it fell upon the two souls. It pushed them to a closeness that not even dawn could penetrate!

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Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest