Week1 – FirstPost – #GameOfBlogs by BlogAdda

Team Blog-o-holics’ first entry.

 

Walking on high heels can be a pain, thought Tara, as she stopped to adjust the straps of her wedges. She placed a hand on little Roohi’s shoulders for support as she struggled with them. Everything in place, they started walking, Tara almost dragging her 9 year old daughter. “Hurry up, Roohi, or we’ll be late for school.” Roohi, however, tried to walk at her slowest, hoping against hope that they’ll be so late that she could ultimately skip school. Who wants to go to school when you haven’t done the homework and were asked to get a note on your diary signed by your parents but didn’t, right? She hoped her class teacher would somehow ignore what she did on her friend’s back with colors yesterday. Her hopes were soon in vain as she saw the Convent building looming nearby.

Tara heaved a huge sigh of relief as she tightened the ribbons on Roohi’s two ponytails and packed her off at the school’s entrance. “Try not to be naughty today, Roohi!” she called after her daughter. She adjusted her large designer tote while watching Roohi disappear inside the building and then decided to walk the remaining distance to her office, which was nearby. She worked at Headlines Today and loved her job, especially since it offered her flexible hours and a fat cheque at the end of the month. It’d have been so easier if Shekhar also worked full time at some job, she thought. But 10 years ago she had taken the plunge knowing full well that Shekhar would be writing full-time. It meant irregular pay but she was glad he could stay at home and look after their daughter. You can’t trust the nannies these days. Look at all the news reports coming in where children were abused by their tutors & nannies.

As she walked immersed in her thoughts she started feeling a little uneasy. You know the feeling you get when someone watches you intently? She turned to look but nobody was around at this early hour. Except a morning walker wearing grey track pants and a black hoodie who was sitting on a stone bench, texting. Tara shrugged and dismissed the feeling. It must be the fight she had with Shekhar today. Or maybe the one she had had with the Autowallah. She must give credit to Shekhar though. Whenever they fought, he was always the first one to hug her and say sorry, his graphite eyes ever smiling through his thin golden specs. But the Autowallah! She felt her blood boil as she recalled their argument earlier. First of all he had the audacity to ask for 300 Rs. just to go a few km. And then when she had bargained, he had spit his paan right next to where she stood, as if the whole world was a giant spittoon! Poor chap will always remember the lecture he got this morning on manners, she thought. All this could’ve been avoided if only Shekhar had remembered to take the car to the mechanic for repairs. All these years and she still wasn’t used to living with a writer!

She felt the sensation again as if she was being watched. She increased her pace a little, her heels making a clack-clack sound on the cemented pavement. Her office was on the next block after the traffic signal. She could see the tall building with the hoardings but it would take 6-7 minutes to cover the distance on foot. Suddenly, she became aware of another sound matching her pace, not very distinct but certainly there. She stole a glance backwards and caught a glimpse of a tall, slim figure wearing a black hoodie. Was it the same man she saw earlier? Her heart leapt to her mouth and she could hear her blood pounding as sinister images formed in her head. She increased her pace as she noticed a chai-wallah opening his shop at a distance. Relief flooded her as she saw another person and decided to stop at the stall and ask for help if needed.

As she got near the shop, she felt the person behind her come closer every second, taking long strides. She felt as though she’d have a heart attack as the person overtook her, slightly grazing her shoulders, when she reached the shop. She stopped abruptly and heaved a sigh of relief. Really, wearing a hoodie isn’t a crime you know, she chastised herself on her childishness. The hoodie man must have been in a hurry.

She walked at a leisurely pace to her office and headed straight to the washroom to straighten her formal shirt and fix her lipstick. It wouldn’t do to appeared flushed in front of her colleagues. After she applied some gloss on her lips, she moved over to the window and opened it a little to get some fresh air in her system and calm her frazzled nerves.

Was that a flash of a black hoodie she saw around the corner?

 

Read the next installment to this story here.

 

***

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

The Missing Stair – A Flash Fiction

When anna saw the house for the first time, she was quite taken by it. She loved the oak wood paneling and the wooden floor. She liked how the Sun filtered through the massive stained glass window in the kitchen. The house had a certain ‘old world’ charm she was a sucker for. What she liked most, though, was how the house had an even number of windows, doors and rooms and how the number of tiles on the floor of each room was exactly the same – 128. The house seemed perfect for her, the material of her dreams, and she felt a connection with it. She didn’t think twice and purchased it, even if coughing up the down-payment was a little difficult.

Moving in was a different experience altogether. She hated how the ‘Movers and Packers’ guys had piled the cartons one over the other despite her instructions. She had labelled the cartons in detail explaining what-goes-where, but nothing was in it’s place. She felt worried and anxious and set about unpacking and keeping her things in their proper place. She started organizing the ground floor and stopped for rest only when the kitchen and living room were in perfect order. Then she took out the custom-made nameplate and ran her fingers over her name; ‘anna’ it read, with shiny gold letters on dark oak wood. She had rebuked the lady at the shop for spelling it with a capital ‘a’ the first time. “No symmetry there!” she had pointed out. After fixing the nameplate on the front door using an even number of nails, she carried a carton and went up the stairs to ‘fix’ the bedroom and study. She paused as she reached the top of the stairs. Wait! Did I count that right? She went back down to the bottom and shaking her head, she counted the stairs again as she came back up. 11. Disturbed, she decided to count once again and make sure there wasn’t any mistake. 11. How could it be? It’s supposed to be an even number just like the rest of the house. I suppose I should count it even number of times, she thought and went back down and counted the stairs again. Still 11. Feeling apprehensive, she put the carton down in the study and went back and sat on the topmost stair, deep in thought, trying to figure out a way to make the staircase ‘proper’.

She tried to divert her thoughts from the constant nagging in her brain to find a solution to the ‘staircase problem’. After a few minutes of contemplation, only two solutions occurred to her. Either she could build a stair to make it 12 or reduce one to make it 10. Destroying one stair seemed to be an easier (as well as an immediate) solution. For half an hour she sat thinking about whether a missing stair would look proper. Finally, she gave way to her even-numbered brain. She went downstairs to pick up a hatchet from her deceased father’s toolbox and then went up to the 5th stair. She started hacking away on the sixth, paying zero attention to her sweaty palms and heaving breath. Once finished, she looked at the end product with a critical eye and chipped away the jagged edges. She felt strange that she found her solace in something missing. Satisfied, she jumped up to the now-sixth stair, relieved that she could now pay attention to the rooms upstairs.

© Dola Basu Singh

The Necklace

Ravi couldn’t believe his luck as he eyed the necklace lying under the rotten garbage. His eyes glistened with greed and he moved his tongue over his lower lip. He didn’t mind the putrid smell that invaded his nostrils. Neither did he mind the maggots swarming the bin and moving up his arms. He moved aside a few polythene bags and dove his hand deep into the bin to rescue the piece of jewelry. A grunt escaped his mouth with the effort but he smiled as his fingers hit the chain.

Siya will be so happy to see this. Bet she would even forgive me for forgetting our anniversary, he smirked.

Taking a tissue, he wiped the delicate golden chain carefully, all the while admiring the teardrop pendant. It was blood red in color and was sparkling like a ruby. He couldn’t help but think how it must have cost a fortune.

Pleased that his cleaning efforts gave very desirable results, he pocketed the necklace, walked up to the garbage truck and drove away, daydreaming about the expression on his wife’s face when she would see the necklace.

When he got home Siya was busy cooking dinner and didn’t pay him much mind until she felt him slide something on her neck. She touched the golden chain and exclaimed at the sparkling pendant.

“Oh my God! This must have cost a fortune! How did you afford this?”

“It looks beautiful on you”, Ravi sidestepped the question.

She smiled and nestled against his arms, feeling his strong muscles hold her close.

They forgot all about dinner and rushed to the bedroom.

As Ravi undressed he heard Siya curse loudly. Strange. She never curses, he thought.

“Honey, Please help me take this necklace off”, Siya called after him.

He went to the bathroom, wishing to take off more than just the necklace.

“Shoot! The clasp’s broken”, he exclaimed as he examined it.

“You have to take this off”, Siya panicked, “It is getting tighter by the moment!”

Ravi struggled with the clasp some more but finally gave up. He tried to pry the necklace off his wife’s neck but the chain that had looked delicate proved to be as strong as a vice.

“Quick”, Siya panted, out of breath. “Ï can’t breathe!”

Ravi realized that the chain was getting tighter and it was now cutting into his wife’s neck even though she was clutching it with both her hands. He joined in her efforts and sliding a finger under the chain, tried to break it. He had expected the chain to snap at this but it didn’t. Grunting, he applied a bit more pressure and suddenly yelped as the chain cut through his finger. Siya shrieked as she saw his finger fall to the ground and the blood spurted on her face and neck. Horrified, they saw the blood move towards the pendant and disappear as if the pendant was sucking it up.

Panicking, Siya doubled her efforts to break the chain even as her husband stood in a corner horrified at the sight. Her voice was sore with all the screaming and her breath came in pants. Blood started dripping from the cut on her neck. She fell to the ground with the effort as the cut now became deeper and blood started squirting from her neck. There was no mess though because the pendant drank it all up as it increased in size and shone more brightly.

Punishment

Bobby felt an elbow poking him on the side and heard his friend whisper, “Get up, Bobby! Mr. Jones is looking at you.”

It took huge will power to open his eyes and as soon as he did, he stared right into Mr. Jones’ eyes. Bobby squirmed, shifted in his seat muttering a ‘Sorry, Mr. Jones’ and looked down at his open book. History was his least favorite subject and add to it Mr. Jones’ boring drone of a voice. Of course, the tiredness due to last night’s party was no help either. Bobby felt his eyelids droop as he listened to the events leading to the Battle of Plassey.

“Get up, Bobby. Class is over. We have to go and make the project. ” He felt another poke at his ribs and grunted. “Get up!” He felt Sid shaking him. “Okay, okay I’m coming!” He shouted at Sid with his eyes still closed. Bobby heard Sid walk away showering the choicest expletives at him. I’ll get up in just a minute, he thought, as he allowed the quiet room envelop him into bliss.

A coughing fit woke him up. He cursed under his breath and reached for the water jug on his bedside table. Wait. There is no bedside table. Puzzled, he tried to get up but fell on the ground as he hit something. “Shit!”, he exclaimed as his eyes got accustomed to the dark. I am in the classroom,he thought.

He suddenly felt weak in the knees, and his heart seemed to jump out of his body. He ran to the front of the classroom, hitting the occasional bench now and then, and turned on the light switch. Nothing. He flipped the switch several times with the same result. He then ran to the door and turned the handle over and over again. Locked. He banged his fists on the door and shouted, “Help! Is anybody there? Please help me!” He kept on shouting and banging the door, sometimes with his fist, at other times with his feet. He started to cough again with all the shouting and grabbed the teacher’s table for support when he thought of the windows.

He walked over to them and opened the glass panes. A breath of fresh air entered the class and with it some light. He looked down at the grounds as a thought of escape came to his mind. Can I jump? No, It’ll probably be my death. He sighed and brushed that thought aside. He shouted again, several times in fact, for help. Maybe the gatekeeper or the gardener will hear me. How come the peon never saw me sleeping in the class, he wondered. He must have forgotten to look here. He cursed the wretched peon under his breath and concentrated on shouting for help. He didn’t see a light or hear any sound. Crying, he slid to the ground and sat sobbing for a long time. Mum, Dad. Please come looking for me, he prayed.

A sudden noise startled him, and he got up to his feet in a jiffy. He ran to the door and started shouting again. “Help! Please! Anybody there? I’m stuck in the History room.” He heard the shuffling of feet as somebody walked toward him. Relief washed over him as he heard the sound and banged the door again to let the person know where he was.

He heard a key turn in the lock and the door opened. Bobby blinked several times as the light from a heavy duty torch hit him in the eyes. Shielding his eyes with his hand, Bobby looked at his rescuer.

“Mr. Jones! I am so glad to see you! The fucking peon forgot to look in the class, and I was trapped here for ages. Thank God you’re here!”

“He often does that. Forgets to look in the classes, I mean,” the history teacher offered.

“He should be punished for that, don’t you think? I mean, what if I had died here?”

“Yeah. Maybe. Talking of punishments, Bobby, don’t you think you ought to be punished for sleeping in my class?” asked Mr. Jones as he revealed a butcher’s knife in his right hand.

“You must be joking, right?” Bobby panicked and began to back off from the teacher.

“No, I’m not”, said Mr. Jones as he struck with the knife.

Politician’s Daughter

I gritted my teeth and slowly chew my words, mincing them into shrapnel.
“If you weren’t a friend I would’ve killed you.”
“Pretty sure you would have gotten away with it too.”
Her words acted as a catalyst to my already seething temper and I settled for the second best thing to murder. I slapped her knowing that I will lose my best friend who also happened to be the only friend. The argument had left a rancid taste in my mouth, unsettling me. I hurried towards the college exit not caring about the car in the parking, preferring the quiet afternoon walk to cool down my nerves.

As I made my way down the pavement I picked up another noise behind me. Footsteps matching my own, which would have otherwise been drowned in the noise of the city, especially to unaccustomed or untrained ears. I turned around to see the bodyguard silently following me at a distance. I shook my head in disbelief; of course I will never be able to dodge them however much I try. I shouted at him to leave me alone but he just stood there, eyes downcast, refusing to budge. “It’s my duty madam”, he pointed out. Knowing that it would ultimately have to be me who gave up first, I did just that. The sooner the better.

As I neared my house I saw a convoy of official looking white ambassadors, their drivers gathered below the shade of the Banyan, exchanging bits of juicy gossip. I took in the sight knowing fully well that my dad must be busy in one of his meetings, but my heart nourished the childlike desire to talk to him right now about my problems. Ignoring the well-meaning pleas of the household servant, I barged into his study.

I joined my hands in the traditional Namaste and bowed to several people I knew, my eyes finally settling over my dad.
“Papa, I have to talk to you. It’s important”, I squeaked.
“I’m sure it’s not more important than this meeting. I’ll talk to you when we finish”, he gestured, his hands sweeping in all the people in the room.
I hesitated and then finally moved out of the room. It’s a wonder that I was still sad when this happened. After all this was nothing new. I should have been accustomed to my father’s lack of time for me and my issues by now.

I went up to my room and lay there sobbing into the covers. Life had never been a bed of roses for me. I had lost my mother at a very young age to a terrorist attack that was planned for my father. I didn’t have any siblings and preferred to remain friend-less rather than gathering around me a bunch of idiots who only pretended to like me in exchange of the benefits. After the attack I was never allowed to remain alone and was always accompanied by a private bodyguard. My father cared little that my classmates made fun of me due to this. Of course I never mentioned the other things that they said to make fun of me and him. I never told him how they teased me that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and that I never had to work hard for anything. They also teased me that I could get away with anything I tried, however illegal. They made fun of my father comparing him to the many corrupt politicians and regularly asked me what scam he was into. It was not too difficult to ignore them. But what pained me most was my father’s lack of time for me who he claimed to be “his precious darling”.

I feigned sleep when I heard his footsteps outside my bedroom door. “I know you are angry my child but the meeting was very important. It was regarding the security of our fellow countrymen”, he told me, caressing my head. I got up from the bed and hugged him, feeling proud of the patriotism I witnessed in his eyes.
“Of course. But I must tell you about my fight with Ritu”, I blabbered, as I silently thanked God for blessing me with a Politician Dad.

This post is written for the Weekend Contest in association with Shoes of The Dead at BlogAdda.com

An update: I just got an email from the BlogAdda team that I was one of the winners of this contest.

Check out the winning posts here.

Great or What? WooHoo!

As luck would have it.

He looked at the bruises covering his body and sighed, a slight moan escaping his dry lips, as he limped his way along the deserted sidewalk. He would never have imagined that such a simple activity like walking could feel so tiresome if it weren’t for today. He carried on, albeit slowly, dragging his right leg as he stepped on with his left, grunting every now and then when it got too tedious

Wiping the perspiration on his forehead with his right sleeve, he noticed how grimy and torn it was, and shook his downcast head thinking about the days’ proceedings. He couldn’t believe how bad his luck had been today starting from the very moment he had seen the morning sun. “I should have heeded the warning and stayed inside”, he chastised himself as he thought of the black cat that had crossed his path.

He stumbled a little, grabbed a lamp post for support, and then carried on. Head still downcast he remembered how all his efforts had gone in vain today starting with the lady at the bus stop. He had followed her for a long distance and waited with her at the bus stop for the next bus, when he would snatch her purse and be gone. But as he saw the bus approaching, and hence his chance, a man came on his bike and she went with him, laughing it seemed on his lady luck.

Disappointed a little at the wasted time he ventured towards the temple where he was sure to get some careless victim. Soon enough he saw a college girl absorbed in her mobile phone unaware of the surroundings. What appealed to him most, however, was the thick gold chain she was wearing. He casually walked closer towards her waiting for the right moment and when he saw that the coast was clear he grabbed at her chain and sprinted away. She shouted for help and even followed him some distance but he was quick enough on his feet and easily eluded her. Turning a corner he stopped in a dark alleyway, panting for breath and took a look at the chain in his grip. Lo! It was fake and he flung it away in anger, cursing the girl for wearing it when she looked as if she could afford real gold.

After catching his breath he decided to go to the market in search for his next victim. He saw a man buying roses on the sidewalk, most probably for a female aquaintance, and putting his wallet in the back pocket of his jeans. It didn’t go in all the way though and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. He took a deep breath and then applied his skills to take the wallet out. As soon as he laid his hands on the wallet the man got wind of it and grabbed his hand. He acted quickly and jerked the hand away and started running at full speed. The man followed as he shouted for help from the passers by and soon there was a crowd following him. As luck would have it he stumbled on a brick unable to keep his balance. As he fell on the street he felt the first fist land on his back and then another followed. Soon he was being beaten black and blue and somebody snatched the wallet from his hands. He begged for pardon, crying helplessly and finally they took mercy upon him and let him go after a warning.

And so here he was now, at this hour of the night, full of bruises but without any money. He cursed his luck under his breath and prodded on, puffing on his recently lit bidi. Seeing a glint in the middle of the road, he went to explore what looked like a wallet from the distance. Overjoyed to see it he exclaimed, “Finally my lady luck is happy with me! “,and walked over to pick it up and felt its weight in his hands. It felt nice and heavy and curious to see the contents he opened it up and was elated to find a wad of hundred rupee notes inside. Before he could count how many there were the photograph in the side pocket caught his eye and to his dismay he saw that it was of the local Thanedar. At that moment he saw a man coming this way searching the grounds as if looking for something. His heart skipped a beat when he recognized the Thanedar, obviously looking for his wallet. Frightened, he dropped the wallet back on the ground and hopped to the nearby tree hiding behind its back, eager to be out of the way as quickly as possible. He thanked God for the narrow escape as the policeman picked up his wallet, and satisfied of its contents, went his way. If the policeman had seen him with his wallet he would surely have been arrested, not to mention, beaten badly.

“Well, looks like today is my day after all”, muttered the guy as he hobbled on, thinking about his narrow escape from the Thanedar, “but tomorrow is another day, a fresh beginning”. Resolving to do better tomorrow, a smile came to his lips for the first time as he thought of retiring to the comfort of his bed early today.

Kidnapped.

It all started on a cold January afternoon while I was returning from college, hands in pocket and satchel on back, hurrying to cross the deserted alleyway. It was then I felt those eyes on me, roving over my body and boring into my back, penetrating the many layers of clothing to reach my heart and make it skip a beat. Not stopping, I turned around abruptly hoping to catch the culprit who had disrupted my quiet afternoon walk home, but found the street deserted except a grey sedan that had just turned a corner and was coming in my direction. I nodded my head in disbelief and looked to the front again, irritated at my hyperactive imagination, my brain arguing that I was safe but my heart refusing to act normal again. I quickened my pace a little, resolving to reach the warmth of my home and a steaming cup of coffee as quickly as possible, but heard another set of footsteps matching my pace. Before I could react I felt a hand pin my arms behind my back while another held a cloth to my nose and mouth.

***

This must be a mistake, I thought to myself, they will surely realize how wrong they are and will apologize to me and set me free. Just have some patience girl, I told myself. I couldn’t move my hands and feet. Obviously, they were tied. I couldn’t see a thing but I knew I wasn’t blindfolded.I sat up with some effort and tried to keep my eyes open, focusing on some distant point. As they grew accustomed to the darkness I noticed how dirty the walls and the floor were and had to stifle the urge to vomit. Come to think of it, that’s what those dark, dry patches on the floor looked like, Vomit. I screamed with outrage, angry at the absurdity of it all, angry at what was happening to me, angry at these men for doing this to me. I shouted obscenities at every present and non-present being, hurling insinuations at them and daring them to face the consequences. Suddenly I heard footsteps coming towards my room and then the lock turned and the door opened with force. As the dark, looming shadow entered the room I started screaming at the top of my lungs, all the while backing towards the wall using my tied hands as support. In an instant he was hovering above me and then I felt a sharp sting on my right cheek and tasted blood. His arms went around my neck and I felt a cold steel chain grip me, digging into the flesh as he started to strangle me, snuff out my life. I could offer little struggle and I soon started to gag, tears escaping down my eyes when I felt his grip relax a little and then stop entirely. He pushed me away and threw me on the floor. I started coughing and crying and begged him to stop, to not take my life. I told him I would do anything he asked, even ask my dad to give him money or whatever he needed. He chuckled at that and said he was not looking for money. I told him he would get whatever he needed but pleaded with him to please stop hurting me and set me free. He laughed aloud when he heard that, a blood curdling laugh, and I cringed, something died within me that very moment as I realized exactly what he wanted from me.

***

I cried a lot nowadays, though not loudly anymore and cringed at even the slightest sound, always dreading the sound of the door lock opening. My hands were finally untied but I was still locked in this godforsaken room. I tried to sit up with my back to the wall but my whole body ached with the effort. I had not eaten anything for the past few days and I felt weak and dizzy. I knew I had to do something soon or it will be too late, I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything whatsoever. I put my hand in my pocket, feeling the assurance the steel chain provided to me, a chain I had stolen from him the last time he visited me. I planned to surprise him with it, a surprise attack being my only chance to freedom. I heard the faint footsteps approaching and quickly went to the darkest corner of the room to wait, a hunter waiting for its prey. He came inside and put the dinner on the floor asking me to eat it and turned to go outside. Deciding now or never, I leapt at him from the back, putting the chain around his neck, strangling him with all my might. He struggled to keep my hands at bay but I kept pulling fiercely and after a while I heard him gagging and then his body went limp and and I let it fall on the floor. Am I finally free from this man? I couldn’t yet believe this. Scared that he would wake up any minute, I let the chain go and quietly went out the door without once looking back, finally full of hope because I had survived yet another challenge that Life threw upon me.

Who Am I ?

It’s funny that you are asking me who am I because you have met me so many times but hardly ever made an effort to notice or recognize me.

I am the girl you bullied at school, calling me names and making fun of me in public, taking advantage of your being a boy just because I didn’t see eye to eye with you.

I am the girl in college you whistled and groped at while passing by everyday, making me feel afraid, insecure and at risk, trampling my self respect and dignity. And when I resisted your advances the best you could do was throw an acid bulb at my face.

I am that girl friend you took advantage of, making me give you everything that was mine, not only the money but also a part of my body and soul, only to throw me aside later in order to marry someone who offered you a bigger price tag.

I am the co-worker you harassed, sometimes by passing dirty jokes in my presence, at other times by touching my hand while taking a file or bumping into me and feeling me up, never sparing any thought about my rights.

I am the mother you took for granted, ignoring my pleas and concerns, ignoring my emotions and thereby changed me into a monotonic machine that does only two things – work and ramble, until one day you decide that since I am no longer useful I must be sent away to die in anonymity in some God-forsaken old age home.

I am that wife you never took notice of other than in the darkness of night, ignoring all my efforts to please you and grab your attention just because your roving eye and dripping tongue was never satisfied, when one fine day you suddenly realize that I make for a great punching bag – one that never hits you back.

I am the sister you claimed to love deeply, the one you fiercely protected from harm’s way, but when the time came to stand by me and show your support you chose instead to beat me and my lover up and then murder us in cold blood only because we had dared to love.

I am that girl child you killed when I made my presence felt even before I saw the light of day, my only mistake was being a girl and therefore not welcome.

Yes, I tolerated all of this but still gave you a second chance because
I am a Woman.