caferati flash fiction

I remember the first time when I thought I could write a short story. It was when I read khushwant singh’s tale about his grandmother. Not in the same league as khushwant singh, but maybe in my own league. But my lazy bum being what it is, the ideas for stories always remained where it originated – in my head.

There have been a couple of exceptions though. One was a short fiction written when taleban had demolished the buddha statues [link] and the other was based on a school incident [link]. This time after seeing the caferati flash fiction contest, I narrated a story to my better half, who forced me to write it. The following was the result.

I saw him for the first time there… coming from the flora fountain direction towards kalaghoda. He had a bewitching smile on his lips – maybe he was thinking about something he liked. But he was different. I do normally see a lot of young office going people from where I am. But there was something about this guy that was different.

Maybe he was joining a new job, his tucked-in shirt and trousers with his polished shoes almost announced that it indeed was a new job that he was joining. It was just then that he looked straight at me. His smile broadened a bit. Suddenly, I didn’t know where to look at that moment and pretended as if I wasn’t looking at him at all.

But he came straight towards me, the smile still playing on his lips. Then the unexpected happened, he stood in front of me, touched my forehead and gave a nice smile and walked away. He had some nerve! All the words in the universe wont be able to explain the feelings that I had at that moment. I was embarrassed, a bit ashamed, and at the same time I enjoyed his presence… it was an emotional roller-coaster. Maybe that’s what the poets called love. A small explosion of emotions still happens in my chest, when I think about that moment.

I normally don’t go to the city, unless my mom takes me there. It has always been that way. I shouldn’t wander around alone, its not safe – she had told me. Though she is not my real mom, she has taken care of me since I remember. She always made sure that I look the best when we are going to the city – couple of days a week. I never looked forward to the long trips to the city but never told my mom.

I didn’t want to disappoint her, she was the only one who understood me, and looked after me. Now the trips to the city were worth looking forward to. I dont know how that feeling came about, but I was there next thursday, standing at the same place, looking through the corner of my eye to see if he was coming.

And I wasn’t disappointed. He came again – and instantly recognised me. I dont know why I felt this shyness, maybe its a bane of the female species, but I did take courage and looked directly into his eyes. He walked quickly towards me, indifferent to the walking crowd and people around. He again sent me into a tizzy, when he ran his hand through my head this time. That was all I needed, I felt like turning into a statue then and there for an eternity, just for him to come to me and touch me.

But it didnt last. I was in for a shock which would shatter my heart. The next trip to the city, I saw him, he was coming as usual, but there was this lady walking close with him. I hoped that it was not his girlfriend, but all I could do was that – hope. He came to me directly with her, and I could see she was scared, maybe after seeing me.

She held on to his arm and tried to slide behind him. But he just stood in front of me and touched my forehead again, then just to shatter my dreams, held her hands and helped her stroke my head as well!

At that moment, I felt like breaking the rope and sinking my sharp horns into her belly. But they both left quickly, leaving me with a broken heart. What if I was a cow, I too have feelings.

I had sent a further edited version for the contest, but anyway didn’t win. It did reach the second round though. Do let me know if you liked it.

The missing brick

There used to be a big frog community living in a well. A young frog named sotnas was among them in that well. For him the whole world was this well and there was no world bigger than his well. From childhood he had noticed that there was a brick in the well, which was missing. But since no one in the community talked to him about it, he found it to be normal, not to speak about the missing brick in the well. Time passed and our sotnas frog grew up, He was very hard-working and studious, and got into the leap-frog well university for higher education. Frogs from other families also came to the university for higher studies. Sotnas stood out of rest in the university with his academics and great ideas. “Like attracts like”, they say in frog-purana(holy book of the Frogs), sotnas too attracted some friends whom he cherished close to his heart. Days were going smoothly…

Till one day, one of his friends mentioned about the missing brick. Sotnas was shell shocked. He was hearing about the missing brick from one of his friends whom he respected most. He had always looked down on anyone who mentioned about the missing brick. He always thought who ever talked about the missing brick to be bad. But he couldnt look down on this friend, because he knew his friend was good. This threw his mind into utter confusion. This turned his world upside down. How could anyone speak about the missing brick so openly. He soon discovered to his astonishment that more people didnt have any reservation talking about the missing brick in the well. This caused him lot of worries, He started questioning everything he had learnt in his life. He was feeling as if his whole life was like a well with missing brick, which he considered imperfect.

Sotnas was slowly walking into depression. He spent a lot of time praying to the Frog-devta(God of the Frogs) for a solution. His mind was now scarred, and wanted any divine-frog to heal it for him. He was getting obsessed by the missing brick in the wall. How can “a well” be “a well”, with one brick missing. He used to raise all his doubts whenever he used to be with is friends. All of them advised him to look at the bigger picture. Afterall the world didnt just consist of a well. If he didnt want to speak about the missing brick, he doesnt have to. It was upto him. World had several rivers, oceans, mountains and more. Compared to them the well was nothing, and the missing brick was even miniscule. All of his friends beleived that sotnas the frog can do big things in life, for he had a wonderful mind, a sharp intellect and grace of Frog-devta. They all knew one day they will be proud to say to their kins that they were close friends of Sotnas-the Frog. They wanted him to climb to greater heights.

Sotnas was slowly slipping more and more to depression. he had finished his university studies, his state of mind affecting the results. But his intellect was sharp as ever. He took up job as a teacher in another frog-university, where his frog students loved his teaching. All of them wondered, why a teacher like sotnas, was still in obscurity with such brilliance. But sotnas was still worried about the hole in his well. This obsession was slowly eating his life away.

The story of Sotnas has at this stage has two possible endings. The synopsis of both are as follows. I dont know which ending did sotnas the frog choose. I am just a spectator, Sotnas was living it.

Ending 1: “nothing is permanent, and no change is abrupt” says the frog-purana.

Our dear Sotnas after a period of time realized his folly of tying his mind to just one thought. He slowly understood the mistake he was doing in limiting his own thoughts to the well. After all the “Frog-Devta” the all prevasive, who created the world, including the well-with-a-missing-brick, didnt create him to brood on this question. He slowly started to look out to the world. The brick was still missing, but his world was growing bigger, and the missing brick problem was diminishing in size. Eventually he was in a position, where his friends wanted him long time back. He was receiving the Frog-scientist-award in a huge ceremony. His friends were glued in front of the telly watching it, none of their eyes were dry.

Ending 2: “all frogs are born to croak, croak and croak. but it is those some frogs who utilise the talent I have given them other than croaking, that are close to me.” as told by frog-paramatma to ajjuna-the-frog-warrior. (from Frogaarata the epic)

Our poor Sotnas could not bear the thought of the missing brick. He was willing to try out all remedies, but his obsessiveness about the missing brick didnt allow him a cure. He continued teaching and croaking. He was silently pasing more into obscurity. Long time after this, his friends were narrating his story, about what could have been, about what sotnas missed out due to his undue attention to a brick. none of thier eyes were dry.

I dont know which ending did Sotnas-the-Frog choose.

The Bully on the Playground

His face stood out in the crowd. Even on a hot day it radiated peace. Silently he stared at the long queue of patients waiting for their turn to meet the doctors, in that huge hospital. Life indeed had taken him places. From a small village in Kerala to a wealthy financial professional in the states, he had been through a tough journey. His face maintained a serene look, when the nurse came back to him.

“He’ll be at the Perinthalmanna hospice,” she said, “we discharged him long ago. Here’s the address.” She handed him a piece of paper. He thanked her and walked out of the hospital. It seemed like his journey was taking him to the place where he wanted it to go. He got back into the taxi, and asked the driver to drop him at the bus stop.

“It has been ages since I travelled on a bus,” he thought to himself as he walked to the enquiry counter. “When is the next bus to Perinthalmanna?” he asked politely to the clerk on the counter. “12:42” replied the clerk, without even lifting his eyes scouring the newspaper. The noon sun was getting intense and the people huddled below the shade wherever they could find it. It was only a 10-minute wait for the bus to Perinthalmanna.

As he got into the bus, he observed that the bus had aged, the rust was showing and so was the dust and dirt accumulated over the years. As it had been during his college days, he sat at the window seat, where he could catch the breeze as the bus sped along the road. It was very hot but the breeze coming through the windows was cool, and soon he was asleep, oblivious of the valiant efforts of the bus tackling the potholes on the road.

~**~**~

Niket was the quietest kid in his class. Although not exceptionally good at studies, he always managed to get a good marksheet at the end of the year. Everyday during the lunch break, he used to have food with his friend Manikandan before running off to the playground for a football match. The school had two big football grounds, though it would mostly be occupied by cricket players.

Niket and Manikandan always played with the small kids, where they both joined opposing teams and enjoyed the match on a silent corner of the ground, till the school bell called for the afternoon lessons. The scores never mattered. The piled-up chappals served as the goalpost and a small rubber ball served as their football. Barefeet on the warm ground, they played with abandon, hating the school bell for sounding the end of the recess period.

It was one of those days that Simon, the school bully, began to interfere in their matches. He usually was accompanied by some of his other bully-friends who would start kicking away their temporary chappal football-posts. Eventually, Niket and Manikandan got irritated and decided to give up playing with the kids altogether. But Simon didn’t want to give up. He followed them everywhere.

One day Niket decided to stand up to Simon. “He might be a bully, but he had no right to pester me.” He told Manikandan defiantly, “and I am going to play with the kids from tomorrow again, if you want you come… there is no point in getting scared.” He didn’t give him a choice, as Mani did not have any other friends. He decided to stick with Niket.

The kids were happy to see both of them back during the afternoon session. The chappal-goal-posts were up again and the match began. Soon enough, the goalposts were disarrayed, the ball being kicked around by Simon and his bully-friends who had turned up from nowhere.

Nevertheless Niket decided to confront him. “Why are you interfering, we are not disturbing you, why don’t you let us play in peace?” His face turning red with the effort. Before Niket could finish with reasoning with him, he felt a painful blow on his face. He could not avoid it, though he raised his arm to block the next blow, and the more that followed.

~**~**~

Saar, Perinthalmanna hospice is next stop,” the conductor gently roused him from his sleep. The bus was already crowded, and he started making his way to the door. The bus stop was just opposite the hospice. His feet were firm as he walked into the hospice office. His long search might soon be over. The caretaker looked up from his desk with an inquiring face. “Yes, he’s at bed no.13… very terminal stage of cancer…nothing can be done now, even the painkillers don’t have any effect. He’s just waiting for death.”

“You can see him if you want to,” the caretaker added.

He saw the emaciated bald figure lying on the bed. The figure was groaning in pain. He moved closer and looked into the eyes of the figure lying there and could see nothing but pain in them.

He briskly walked out of the hospice. He had a smile on his lips, and his eyes – triumphant.

A message from my garden

Staring at a blank notepad for a long time doesn’t produce a journal entry. Or maybe it just will, if you stare long enough.

“You have to choose between the snails and the tree” I was told. I was in an ethical dilemma over handling a situation in my Garden. Leaves of a medium-sized shrub in our garden were suddenly having big holes in it. A closer inspection led to the discovery of a colony of snails, slowly and steadily munching all the leaves of the shrub. If I leave the snails to finish off the leaves, the shrub will die and then the snail population will migrate to other plants. But is killing of snails ethical?

The principle of non-violence seems to have been embedded somewhere deep in my mind. It always comes up with the question before I can even think of harming a creature. I have killed several mosquitoes, but I have spared even more. Before I raise my hand to kill a mosquito the question pops up again in my mind. Is killing of mosquitoes ethical? Afterall they suck blood for survival. Once the question comes to my mind, I find myself gently prodding the mosquito to fly away, instead of squashing it into a two-dimensional non-living-object.

As a child, I used to watch my grandfather killing rats, after they had been caught in the mousetrap. He used to drown them in a bucket of water, before disposing them off. Somehow it never appealed to me (or my brother). During later periods of our life, whenever we caught a mouse, we used to take it far away from our house and leave the mousetrap open, so that the mouse can escape into wilderness. “What happens to the mouse after that is its fate!”

Back to my Garden. The question was taking its toll on my mind. If I leave the snails without doing anything, all the plants in the garden are at risk, but eliminating them is a huge ethical issue. After consulting with Zubin, who went into greater lengths to explain about symbiosis and lack of it, I finally bought a bottle of snail-killer over the weekend. With a heavy heart, I chopped off the branches of the shrub, and used the snail-killer to eliminate the snails.

I could only find shells of dead snails in the garden today. The non-violent side of my mind was really upset of the whole affair. It got a slight reprive as I saw a small-child-snail crawling up the branch to start it all over again.

Sarvam Khalvidam Brahmam

We all met on the way and walked together…

Patterns, Nothing but Patterns,
The whole world is nothing but patterns of patterns.
The neo-mathematician said.
You, Me, and the thoughts, Earth, Sky and Eternal Time,
Nothing but Pure patterns.

Vibrations, Nothing but vibrations,
The whole world is nothing but vibrations within vibrations.
The neo-physicist said.
You, Me, and the thoughts, Earth, Sky and Eternal Time,
Nothing but Pure vibrations.

Consciousness, Nothing but consciousness,
The whole world is nothing but a divine play of consciousness.
The neo-sanyasin said.
You, Me, and the thoughts, Earth, Sky and Eternal Time,
Nothing but the play of pure consciousness.

Illusion, Nothing but Pure Dream,
The whole world is nothing but a big dream, a great Illusion.
The neo-alchemist said.
You, Me, and the thoughts, Earth, Sky and Eternal Time,
Nothing but a great illusion, a big dream.

I scratched my head and went my way, and they went their ways…

Height of belief…

“So” I asked., “as per your religious books, the world was created maximum 4000-5000 years ago”.

“Yes,” the believer said.

“Then,” I further queried him, “how do you explain the million year old fossils of Dinosaurs?”

The believer replied. “When God created the world 4000-5000 years ago, he implanted those fossils on earth. God wanted to test humans, if they will believe in him, or the fossils!”

Well, I didn?t have anything further to ask or tell him

Laziness…

I gave way to laziness today…
slept through all morning
slumber took control of me,
as I melted into a deep sleep,
I woke up in the evening,
to realize that I had slept all day!

I got up., Had a really refreshing bath..
Standing under the lukewarm shower,
With eyes closed..
I could feel all the ripples
of the mind melt away..
No guilty, no remorse.,
I was totally relaxed..
and was with myself again.

a parable…

had a chat with Pradeep today,
and I remembered a parable,
when our chat took a philosophical twist?

***

a child was playing with clay,
he started creating images out of clay,
he made earth, moon, stars, planets,
he created fish, animals, water,
and soon he created men,
they all came to life,
in the imagination of child.

soon, men created civilizations,
fought with each other,
the imagination went wild,
there were wars,
people segregated under the names,
of nations, religion, caste, race,
soon the child got bored of the game,
crushed the images back into clay,
and went away…

***

I think J.Krishnamurhty told this parable
much much better way.

I saw

While driving,
I saw…

Few gulls,
Making noises and having fun in the air,
As if they had come for the picnic,
From the seashore, which was their home.

Puffed clouds,
Aware, omnipresent, detached,
Floating in the blinding white sky.
Not forcing themselves,
Just going with the flow

A farmland,
Silently grazing innocent cattle,
Unaware that, They will soon become,
Breakfast for humans.

I stopped seeing…
And just drove…