The Promised Land

They alighted the rickety jeeps at midnight. The man to whom they had bequeathed their money pointed the way forward and quickly vanished. They walked through the desert, wary and weary, under the cloud cover. Abuela was the first to die. Thirst. His wife had developed a septic wound and passed away next. His darling... Continue Reading →

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Box Office

He left his home to become the first filmmaker of South India. He faced obstacles at every corner. He lied and schemed his way to learn filmmaking. He sold his land and set up his production house with the money. Ten years later, his dreams came true. He made the first Malayalam film. He stood... Continue Reading →

The Burden

Usually, I’d have left long back. A honeymooning couple holding hands, whispering and giggling without a care in the world. A harassed young mother trying to feed, what looks like goop, to her bawling kid while her husband runs toward the smoking room for one last cigarette. An unkempt young man dressed in shockingly horrible... Continue Reading →

The Kettle, The Iron Box, and The Ladle

‘Ma, not these again!’ I cringed at the the old item trifecta displayed prominently on the showcase of our new home. ‘Why? What’s wrong with these?’ ‘They are old and ugly!’ My mother smiled and said, ‘My arranged marriage was stopped by the groom’s mother because we couldn’t give these as dowry. My father had... Continue Reading →

Sailfish

Bart was supposed to be a star! Scratch that – a superstar! Coach used to claim that Bart’s mother had somehow mated with a sailfish to produce him. That nickname stuck. He was that quick. Once, he lapped the person who finished second in the 1500m freestyle – thrice. The guy who lost wept openly... Continue Reading →

The Tipping Point

The barbed wire fence was cut after the war that had raged for half a century came crashing to a halt. People from both sides rushed to the centre and hugged each other. Tears flowed openly, there was no shame or enmity anymore. Task forces were created – farmers, craftsmen, and tradesmen were hurriedly assembled... Continue Reading →

Snow!

'Grandpa! Look, It's snowing!' Five-year-old Emily jumped in glee, her little hands coming together in a joyous clap. I smile at her and run my hands over her hairless scalp. The doctors had given her only three more months to live. 'Grandpa! Is it Christmas again?' Her smile drove stakes through my heart. Emily's generation's... Continue Reading →

Jump

‘It’s all about your core and balance,’ Ralph murmurs. ‘Parkour is tapping into the courage you didn’t know you had.’ His voice was mesmeric and I nod eagerly, eventhough I knew everything he just said. Heck, I have said the same things before. ‘I know you can make the jump, Mikey!’ Ralph steps closer to... Continue Reading →

Hate Prevails

‘Do you know that Hamburg was nearly wiped out of the map during WWII?’ My parents were impressed. They had come from India to London, where I worked. I’d planned a short trip to Hamburg. ‘More than forty thousand died. They said that there was a tornado of fire that night.’ ‘Why are humans so... Continue Reading →

Bluebeard

They said that he never remained married for long and his wives vanished mysteriously. When his eyes fell on me, I was repulsed. I begged father not to agree to our betrothal. But his wealth, our poverty, and my family's greed won over. On the way to his castle, he warned never to open that... Continue Reading →

Comeuppance

Nero stared at the bleeding man bound to the worktable. The man grunted and moaned pitifully, his sobs choked by a ball-gag fastened around his mouth. He was missing fingers in both his hands. Scratches, welts, and bruises covered his naked torso. Nero looked at the poll results on an encrypted website, ‘We have a... Continue Reading →

Gambit

I'm but a child watching a chess game. I can see the players concentrating hard, thinking five, six, even ten steps ahead. Moves and countermoves, bluffs and double bluffs. One troop here, another there - all maneuvers towards the end goal. Towards the big prize. Big wins requires big sacrifices. I see the pawns lying... Continue Reading →

Reincarnated(?)

' I was born here, in this very castle. They named me under this domed roof. I used to play hide and seek in the hidden corridors behind the alcoves. I fell in love under this roof, married and made love to my beloved, welcomed our first child... so many good memories.' He smiled wryly, 'It was... Continue Reading →

Mirror, Mirror! – Friday Fictioneers

'Grandmother, what is it?' 'It's a magic mirror, love. It shows what your heart really wants.' 'Really?' 'Well, that's what my grandmother's grandmother told her.' 'Have you taken a peek?' 'But of course, love. Quite the few times.' 'Did it truly show your heart's desire?' 'That's my little secret, love. Do you want to take... Continue Reading →

Goodbyes – Friday Fictioneers

The crowd gathered on the banks of the holy river was a living, feeling organism in itself. It ebbed and flowed mimicking the dirty brown water and it glowed with spectacle not unlike the river. Some cried, some laughed, some were relieved, some took selfies, and some just stood there taking in the scenes. Most... Continue Reading →

An Interview With My Favorite Author

It was nothing like what I had imagined. I found him rocking forward and backwards on his famous cane chair, a cigarette dangling between his parched lips. The ashtray on the table overflowed with snubbed butts. There were sheets of paper, scrunched into balls, discarded all over the place. I opened one, and read. It... Continue Reading →

Options – Friday Fictioneers

Take any street, it's a microcosm of the entire world. You can find animals and trees, churches and sewers, saints and predators, happy and sad people, running fast, minding their own businesses, not really pausing and looking at others and their plights. So, I know you are not looking at me, eventhough you see me... Continue Reading →

Eventuality – Friday Fictioneers

Ria walked through the dilapidated house with a grace that belied her age. She paused by the ornate French windows and smiled ruefully. 'This place was designed by Angelo Del Vecchio. He billed by the minute, you know?' She stepped out to the garden overrun by nettles and weeds. 'I used to host tea parties... Continue Reading →

Family – Friday Fictioneers

'Do you like dolls?' Jeannie nodded, her tired blue eyes lighting up for a nanosecond. Joanie took the girl's hand and squeezed it slightly. 'I promise, I'll get you a lot of those cute dolls once we reach the promised land. Ok?' Joanie looked into his eyes, 'Are you sure, Jonny? I've seen promises turn... Continue Reading →

Family Tree

'Gary, what are you doing?' 'I'm digging a hole.' 'Why?' 'You'll see!' 'Gary, you've been sullen ever since Marshall came out. Why don't you talk about it? Get things off your chest.' 'There's nothing to talk about it, Mel! Marshall's lifestyle is his own to make.' 'Oh, Gary! Don't tell me you are homophobic.' 'No!... Continue Reading →

These Boots Are Not Made For Walking

She looks at her tattered boots - their soles kept in place by thumbtacks, the once crimson felt lining resembling the color of rotten flesh, the insoles smelling something putrid, the ruined zippers barely holding the boots around her wasted legs and the aluminium-foil tape wrapped over the toe caps. She knows that she looks... Continue Reading →

The 33 Club

'Welcome to the 2798th meeting of the 33 club. What's today's agenda?' Irma grimaced, 'Same old?' Thirty-two heads nodded solemnly. William Rambo moved amidst them, 'Well? Am I in?' Frederick nodded, 'The poor man's been waiting for years now. I say yes.' 'But, we'll no longer be the 33 Club.' Evelyn scoffed. 'We've been doing... Continue Reading →

Going Back

  I splash across the muddy trail, without a care about my $20000 Armani suit or my $5000 Berluti shoes. My sons follow me with bewilderment, wondering if a coconut had fallen on their old man's head. David, the eldest one, stops me. 'Pop! My gear is getting ruined. Can't we like dirt bike or... Continue Reading →

The League

‘Tea, Clark?’ Diana smiled at her octogenarian friend. Beside her, Bruce was poring over the newspaper. Clark nodded and sat down. ‘Lovely day, eh?’ Bruce just grunted. ‘Bruce, don’t you think you’ve been grumpy enough?’ John sat next to Clark. ‘I’m not grumpy.’ ‘Of course, you aren’t,’ Barry placed his cane down and sat down... Continue Reading →

The Lunatic

The sun scorched relentlessly on the rocky hills. The waiting crowd did not mind the soul-sapping heat one little bit. They were witnessing something very special. The constant, rhythmic ‘thunk’ of metal meeting stone was music to their ears. Dashrath Manjhi paused before delivering the final stroke. Twenty-two years of hard labour was about bear... Continue Reading →

The IQ of Losers

The two men watched in amiable silence from one of the ornate windows of Trinity Hall. Down in the grounds, students were spreading blankets and setting cameras on tripods as they got ready to witness and capture the oncoming meteor shower. ‘I’d give almost anything to be in one of those blankets,’ the frail man... Continue Reading →

The Wages of Sin

‘What have you done?’ The young woman growled. The soldiers shuffled their feet, and none had the temerity to meet her eyes. She walked slowly on the blood-soaked floor and knelt beside a corpse, ‘What did the women and children do? Why did you kill them too?’ The leader of the mutineers stepped up, ‘Rani*,... Continue Reading →

Change

Hugo smiled as he entered the gym. He sidestepped the faulty floorboard and strode forty-eight exact feet to the practice ring. Nothing had changed. Marcus was there, as Hugo expected, scrubbing the canvas. A legendary boxing coach, Marcus still cleaned the ring himself. It was his church, he claimed. Nothing had changed. Marcus looked up,... Continue Reading →

Precious

Why am I holding this dry, withered carcass of a rose? Go ahead, ask. This is my most treasured possession. I will not trade this for all the riches in the world. What is its significance, you might ask? This was the first flower she gave me; ten years, seven months, and twenty-three days ago.... Continue Reading →

Magic

He was holed out in the dusty attic of his uncle’s house. He spent most of his days there, with his books and his cousin’s hand-me-down toys. He could hear his aunt complain about his messy hair and messier room, and his cousin chortling. He did not like it at his uncle’s. They didn’t hate... Continue Reading →

The Name

‘Grandpa, looks like we have to shut the hotel down,’ Noel closed the ledger. ‘We can’t bear losses anymore.’ Ninety-three-year-old Ethan D’Mello smiled ruefully, ‘This hotel was a tribute to my British employer, Noel. I named it after him – Henry Berrisford.’ ‘Surely a great man, wasn’t he?’ ‘Oh yes! A proper gent. He contributed... Continue Reading →

Epicharikaky – Friday Fictioneers

Hey grass! Ever felt jealous of the tree towering over your insignificance? Felt hopelessly despondent that you couldn’t do anything about it? You have? Perfect! Now you know how I feel. It’s very easy to get trampled on, right? Oh well, at least I can drink my sorrows away. Hey grass, it’s me again. Did... Continue Reading →

Skeletons – friday fictioneers

  Krish pointed the derelict house to his wife Mita, ‘I spent a lot of time here than in my own house when I was a teenager.’ ‘Why?’ ‘I have no idea. I used to come here straight after school to see Sheela-aunty.’ ‘’Was she related?’ ‘No! Her husband, Govind, worked for my dad. He... Continue Reading →

Mistaken Identity – Friday Fictioneers

‘Ironic isn’t it?’ Mal spat. ‘You, an entomologist, killed by a spider.’ Her husband, Godfrey, lay thrashing at her feet - eyes scrunched shut and foam trickling from his babbling lips. ‘Phoneutria fera - Brazilian Wandering Spider. Did you recognize it as it bit you?’ She turned and picked her bag. ‘I’ll let you be.... Continue Reading →

Everest – Friday Fictioneers

‘How much for the cap?’ ‘300 rupees, madam. You climbing Everest?’ ‘Naah! Just trekking to basecamp. My husband will be attempting to summit Everest.’ ‘Nice. Your husband very brave. Which party he go with?’ ‘Wild Summit.’ ‘Very nice. My uncle, Apa Sherpa, going with Wild Summit. He help your husband. I go Everest from next... Continue Reading →

Romantic – Friday Fictioneers

‘What’s that?’ ‘That’s the sigil of House Flormont. Actually, their history is very interesting.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah! The Lady Marguerite of House Flormont once hosted a great tourney to find herself a suitor. They called her ‘Wildflower’ because she was as wild as she was beautiful. Many a suitor vied for her hand, only for her... Continue Reading →

The Thermos – Friday Fictioneers

pic credit: Dale Rogerson ‘Thanks for meeting me,’ She tugged at the lapels of her thick woolen coat with nervous fingers. ‘What do you want now?’ His words were colder than the wind. ‘Here, I’ve got something for you.’ She showed him the object in her right hand. ‘Oh God! Your bloody thermos again? What’s... Continue Reading →

I’ll be there for you – Friday Fictioneers

‘Dude, tell me about this girl you like.’ Pete sighed, ‘Man! Her name is Rachel.’ ‘Sigh, egh? Pretty?’ ‘So gorgeous, that I wanna cry.’ ‘Intense bro. What does this Rachel do?’ ‘She works in a big-ass store, man. Dunno which.’ ‘She interested in you?’ ‘Dunno, man! There’s this other guy in the scene.’ ‘They serious?’... Continue Reading →

Duck! – Friday Fictioneers

General Donald ‘Duck’ Trumpet looked at the Genie hovering before him. ‘You have two wishes. Use them wisely.’ ‘Make me color- blind.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Yes! I would be able to see through the camouflages in the battlefield.’ ‘Granted!’ Duck’s wife cursed him on hearing his story. ‘You idiot! You should asked to become the... Continue Reading →

Right Angles – Friday Fictioneers

‘Ain’t that great?’ ‘Indeed, Mr. Kapadia.’ ‘A veritable masterpiece.’ Nitin, the photographer, beamed with pride. His photograph of the wasteland near Mr. Kapadia’s chemical factory was being showered with praise by the great man himself. ‘The colors, the waterfront… wah! This photo should go on our promotional materials and ad campaigns immediately. Let those bird-brains... Continue Reading →

Possessed – Friday Fictioneers

The kodangi jerked violently. The village people fell silent in obeisance and fear. “This girl has been possessed by a violent spirit. Nail her to the ghost tree, else the spirit will kill the girl. I have spoken.” The kodangi shuddered and with a howl, fainted theatrically. They dragged the screaming girl to the ancient... Continue Reading →

Mynah Inconvenience – Friday Fictioneers

“Ned! Can you see me buddy?…” A rather large and reddish nose filled my iPhone display. “Dad, move the cellphone away from your face.” “Oh! Heh heh! I’m rather poor with these technology thingamajigs…” “This better be important. I have a meeting in five minutes.” “Look who came to visit today.” He thrust a rather... Continue Reading →

High Hopes! – Friday Fictioneers

Alex smiled at the full moon. She spread a fine batik-print table cloth and laid down her finest cutlery on the table. A delightful aroma came wafting from inside the moored ferry. Her Shrimp Pad-Thai was ready. She poured herself a glass of red and sat down with the papers she had to grade. Dinner... Continue Reading →

United We Stand – Friday Fictioneers

The employees united vociferously against the evil management, fighting for their just cause. The police, paid by the management, used water cannons to disperse the throng in mutiny. With chests jutting forward in proud defiance, the employees made the hose-wielding men shrink. “Cut”, screamed the director. “Good job, everyone. Let’s finish with the song shoot.”... Continue Reading →

Greed

Chandru sobbed as his grandfather held him. “Do you want to talk about it?” Grandpa prodded gently. “It was horrible, grandpa. I cannot unsee…” “Calm down. What happened?” “Remember the school that collapsed some time back? My company wants to build a new school in the same location. While surveying the property, I came across... Continue Reading →

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