Chinna

Chinna
Devi cracked her knuckles and stood by the railing. The clouds above her looked beautiful, with not a care in the world. The light breeze fluttered the blue skirt she was wearing, it had been her mother’s favorite skirt. Maybe that’s why she chose to wear it today, to meet…. him.
The temple gates were open but there were no bells ringing. Just when she thought nothing can break her today, her insides turned when she saw him…
He walked up the steps slowly, towering as he neared her.
“Hello Devi” he smiled, “How are you?”  The man had a coarse voice, which Devi hadn’t heard for fifteen years.
“You wanted to meet me. Why?” , she managed. She hadn’t forgotten how charming his smile was, she had the same.
“Is that how you talk to me after so long?”
“How else should I talk to a man like you, Appa? Tell me” she stood firm. She reminded herself that if she breathes slowly, her face won’t give away anything.
“I was in town. That why I called you” He faced her.
She looked at the rock at his feet. Che. “Uncomfortable?” He asked, “You always looked at someone’s feet when yo uncomfortable.” He seemed pleased with himself. She knew she could strangle someone then.
“I have missed you, chinna!” He continued.  “Not a single day has gone where I wouldn’t think of you or your mo….” He stopped when she creased her brows
“No. Don’t. I don’t need this small talk from you”
“I just wanted to meet you. It’s been a long time. I was just wondering….” he cleared his throat
“Wondering what?” She stepped closer to him, facing him eye to eye. She was tall too. She was his daughter.
“You have your mothers eyes. But with more fire in them…!” He fidgeted with his collar as he spoke.
She could feel her temple throbbing. She had so much to say. So much to vent. But her lips wouldn’t comply. Her mouth wouldn’t open. “Aiyo Devi! It hurts! Help me…!” kept echoing in her ears like a nagging ear worm.
“Yes. They have a fire in them. Do they scare you? I think they should” she pursed her lips and bore into his eyes, into the depth of his silly soul.
“I am a changed man” he stammered. “Learnt so much. I was so wrong! I just want to have you back in my life!!”
“How dare you?” This was blasphemy. She shouldn’t have agreed to this moment. “How dare you even think about showing your face to me today, let alone ask for me back?? Who are you??”
Chinna ssshhh. Don’t say that. Look. Let’s talk in a calm place. You are sweating. You don’t even know what you are talking!”
“Leave” she now looked at a bitch with her litter jumping around in the yellow evening. “Just leave and never come back” She bent to pick her jhola and began towards the gate.
“We haven’t even spoken….” he begged.
The bitch now limped while playing with her litter and wagged her tail.
Devis chest felt heavy. No this wasn’t a heart burn. This must be how it felt to have closure.
Chinna please don’t break an old mans heart…”
His words made her stop in tracks and smile.
She turned to him with no broken brow and said “Breaking your heart pays for breaking my mother’s face”.
She turned away from him and took off, her blue skirt happy in the wind.
~~Writing after a year. Absolutely rusty, as always. Comments most welcome!~~

Tame

Tame

The Sun was rising in the western sky. Aria had seen many sunrises before. But life had taught her enough to not wait for sunrises, but to light some of her own.

She washed her face when her watch beeped indicating her breakfast was ready. ‘Sattra’, she thought out. The chip at the nape of her neck beeped and she could hear a low rumble in the adjoining room. Aria smiled. Sattra was her pet Bengal tigress. She looked into the big cat’s face as it walked by her, tail swishing. She had the same blue eyes as Aria: they were genetically linked.

The monitor by the dining table blinked 4.43am-16-April-2216. The world around her had grown more in the last 70 years than it had ever grown. And Aria was a huge part of that growth. She led the most populous landmass in the world: Asia.

She sat at the table to eat, when she felt Sattra’s soft tongue licking her feet. She was Aria’s equal, her sibling, her clone. And she only strengthened Aria’s beliefs.

Her younger self had seen many riots and civil wars. The planet around her was dying and she knew it was her calling to stand up. She was the Durga. She rose up the political ranks quickly and in just two decades, she was the most influential person on the continent. And now, she intended to use that influence to bring order into the society, the way the Rig Vedas meant it to be. And why not? She was the Kalki. The vision in her old blue eyes was that the planet had to come back to its true glory.

She began to uphold the Arthashastra principles, while abhorring the rituals. She funded the mass project of cloning all citizens to animals of their ‘capability’. Horses and Guard dogs for the army, Apes for the scientists, Dolphins for the navy, Eagles for the police and small dogs and rabbits for the laborers. She believed that every animal had it in itself to show man the true nature of life.

The pet animals were controlled by the individual and monitored by the government. They would be the owner’s best friend when the deeds were good and turn into policing entities when the deeds were vile. This had worked. The water was cleaner, the air was pure. Crime rates had reduced and wars had ended.

She lifted her cup to finish her coffee. ‘Some things can never be replaced by technology’, she smiled to herself.

She walked into her office, Sattra at her heel. Her assistant, Nevada, had already pulled up the tasks for the day. Screens hovering in the middle of the room, blinked with notifications. Behind them, the generals stood in attention, with their loyal German Shepherds by their side, waiting for her orders.

‘The employment report you asked for is put up on the screen ma’am. All graduates from the schools have been assigned their occupation and work has begun smoothly. We now await the results for the next quarter’, Nevada read out from his tablet, and gestured the report onto the screen on the right.

‘No other major concerns, Ma’am. But there was one thing…’ he weighed his next words well ‘The Assam corridor had a news that would concern you’.

The monitor blinked to life as he waved the news into the screen on the left.

A graphic of a man screaming and shouting at people, while he was being arrested by the police came up. He was pelting stones at the mob around him, who were trying to control his actions and put him in the jeep. There was… chaos. And in her reign, chaos… was rare. The three tall generals behind her had already broken into a sweat. Sattra let out a low growl, which made the hair on the dogs’ back stand. Aria remained expressionless.

‘Wolf people’, she murmured.

‘Ma’am…’ Nevada continued. He did not want to provoke thoughts into his mentor’s mind, but it was his job. ‘…Wolves can never be tamed. ‘

‘But men can…’ She turned toward the generals ‘It is time. Gather the anomalies. Get the doctors to install the system’. They blinked at her. She had just asked them to integrate human prisoners into the system.

General Ventos croaked, ‘But Ma’am… They’re human beings’

Her blue eyes behind her heavily wrinkled face still had fire in them when they bore into his, wordlessly.

Ventos shuddered and motioned to his colleagues. There was work to be done…  People to be tamed.

You’ve got Mail

You’ve got Mail

Angry. He felt angry. He never thought of himself as a guy who can get angry even at the most difficult things. At 28, Dave Gillian, thought his life had finally settled down, with a well-paying job, a good house by the suburbs and a marriage to the love of his life. He loved Emily. Loved her. But did that have value anymore? He wanted to quit his job and be a theater actor, but he continued because Emily had needed him to. And now she didn’t.

His car ripped through the night air, way beyond the speed limit. “Screw the rules”, he explained to himself. Abiding by them all his life, he played the ‘Nice guy’ all along, fulfilling duties and living for others and what not. And what did that lead him to? A divorce. Yes. Emily “did not love him anymore” and had just served him the notice.

Memories of their first days together, their wedding, setting up their new home brought tears to Dave’s eyes. He wanted to end his life. “How silly!”, he’d have advised had it been someone else. But this pain was too much to bear. He stomped on the gas to get to nowhere, really, when the engine screeched.

The brakes had given away!

“What now? Ok I don’t really want to die!!”, he screamed at the steering wheel as the car riveted across the small village road. He fought against the madness and tried to get the wheel under his control, but the car seemed to stick to its foolish decision of killing him…

Machine screaming…

Wheels on fire…

Off road…

A tree…

Blank.

Dave opened his eyes. It was dark. He wasn’t dead yet, for he breathed in the night air and could smell the burnt rubber and leaking gasoline. He was very much alive, and very much in pain. Not his broken collar bone, he’d seen worse in life as a child. But pain that he was too scared to die, and too lost to live. He got out of the car, to see where he could spend his worthless night and the rest of his worthless life. Limping across what looked like a maize farm, he saw a house in the distance. A small light flickered through the window, beckoning him to come tell his worthless love story.

He got to the gate. “Hello?”, he called out.

Silence.

“I need help. My car crashed, I’m hurt.”

Silence.

He walked past the fence, to the shabby door. Emily would’ve hated the stench. But fuck Emily. She wasn’t here and he didn’t have to care.

He looked around, and found no one. Why was the light on then?

“Gah!” He screamed at the darkness and kicked the mail post. Something caught his eye. It was too dark, but not so dark that he could miss this.

‘Dave Gillian’. Huh fancy. His name on the mailbox. “What a coincidence”, he chuckled to himself. Fancy someone even uses a mailbox these days!

‘Let me write to myself. To tell myself what a loser I have been, and what I need to do in life’

He hurried to the car to get his bag. A pen, a book and some light was what he needed. He hadn’t written a letter to anyone in ages. His mother used to write to him, right to the day she passed away. And he never had the time to respond.

Dear Dave…”, he began on the dog eared paper he had in his bag.

You haven’t really done anything great in life. You haven’t really given your name to anything in this world except for a shabby old mailbox in some village. And that too doesn’t belong to you. The one good thing you did give your name to, that you were proud of is sitting at your house, bitching about you to another man. So give me one good reason you sit there reading this in pride. None of your degrees and your business deals mean anything. Sit by this farm and smoke a fucking joint. That’s what your life has come to.  Maybe you should die. At least try being good at that.

Trapped forever,

Yours truly,
Dave fuckall

He crushed the paper into a ball, opened the red lever and chucked it into the empty old box. The box seemed happy to have had a letter after what seemed like years, but he still felt the same emptiness.

He turned to leave. To where? He did not know. His car was fucked. His shoulder was fucked. His life was fucked.

Just when he limped his way to his pile of metal, he heard a squeak. Dead of the night, he turned just in time to see the mailbox lever move and the box open and close. On. It’s. Own.

Wait. Was he hallucinating? He hurried back. Why would he be scared, he had nothing more to lose. But he was cautious. He slowly opened the box. It was too rusty and stuck up to open on its own! He bent down to see inside. His letter was gone.

He couldn’t believe this. There was nobody around, and his letter was just taken by someone to be read?

He ran back to the car. He had no choice. What foolery was this? He went to the bunk of the car, the machine was worthless. He just sat in the driver’s seat and waited. For what? He didn’t know. He just waited. For 30 exhausting minutes, he waited while his eyes refused to close. His body was in pain now but he dared not close his eyes. And then he saw it again. The lever creaked. The box opened. And closed again.

He wanted to know what was happening. He made his way back to the mailbox. ‘Dave Gillian’ etched on the rusty box suddenly seemed more eerie in the moon light.

He bent down to open the old rusty box again. Inside, he saw a neatly folded paper.

It was his handwriting that said,

Live

 

Maybe that’s why…

Maybe that’s why…

She was so pretty. Brenda, I think, was her name. Small breasts, large blue eyes and brunette hair.
So young. So cute. So attractive.

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

She was at the park, playing with the kids that afternoon. I watched her, while sitting in my car, from afar. She got them candies, and ran with their puppies.
So ostentatious. So fake. So showy.

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

She then sat there on the bench, in the dim evening light, reading her tablet. As if she was engrossed in something extremely important. With a smile pasted on her face.
So shallow. So self-important. So self-engrossed.

Maybe that’s why ….

 

I had to speak to her. Find out what it was about her. What is it she had? What is it she did? What is it she lived? Find out what made him like her. Find out what made him seek her. What made him…
I walked up to her. “Hi, Can you help me with this address?” I asked, and handed her a piece of paper. She smiled her perfect smile and extended her long fingers to take the paper.
So pretentious. So irksome. So irritating.

Maybe that’s why …

 

She turned around to point in the direction opposite me, and began talking like there was nothing wrong or dangerous in this world.
So stupid. So naïve. So gullible.

Maybe that’s why …

 

I couldn’t bear to wait and ask her my questions. I made my move. I took the blade that I cut him with, and stabbed her throat too. She did not scream. Only stared at the trees above her, as she fell her gracious fall.
So serene. So quiet. So… beautiful. Beautiful? Was I beginning to get smitten by her too?

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

Every night I go back to the park.

Every night I see her on that bench.

Every night I want to kill her, so she doesn’t remember, so she doesn’t hate herself, so she doesn’t grow up to be ME.

Every night I want to speak to her. Ask her why I was so pretty, so gullible, so ostentatious and so beautiful…

Because maybe that’s why he liked me. Maybe that’s why he sought me. Maybe that’s why he raped ME.

Bawali

Bawali

The fire danced in the desert wind. Loo, the locals called it. The warm air was pleasant, but not for her, not with the amount of jewelry she was wearing. Her lehenga, her choli, her ghoonghat, her nathani, her jhumka and her mehendi were telling the guests a  beautiful story of happiness but her sweat and tears were her own to feel. Her wedding was an hour away, and she was kept at the center of the Sabha like a show piece. 16 year old Hetal was all set to marry the rich business man from the neighboring town.

Scores of villagers were walking past her, giving her money and small gifts that befit their stature. She had never seen so many coins for her in her life. And yet, her mind did not want to count the money in front of her. Her heart yearned to see the one boy she had ever dared to look in the eye, had ever dared to hold hands with. She knew Chandan would be coming to the opening in her backyard anytime now, and she would be ready when he did.

Bikramjeet and his wife Peenal were beaming with joy, looking at their daughter sitting coyly, waiting for the wedding. Glory, they called it. A good name to the family, water to their parched bajra fields and money to send their young Dilawar to school.  Peenal walked to her daughter, wiped the sweat off her forehead with her hands, and planted a kiss on it. Hetal tried to pull away. ‘Eh Bawali! Peenal murmured as she quietly pulled Hetal’s ghoonghat over to cover her face, lest anyone see the bruises. It hurt her that her child had to be beaten up so harsh, but her husband was right. Daughters have no business studying or falling in love. She wondered what happened to the 18 year old boy and just hoped he hadn’t got killed. Her husband was known for tempers.

There was commotion outside the Sabha, and Bikram straightened up. ‘Baraat aa gayo, Laado ko andar le ja’ he boomed with energy as told his wife. Peenal and the other maidens helped Hetal in her heavy lehenga and walked her into the house, into the bride’s room, and came back to welcome the party.

The candle flickered in the desert wind. Dragon’s breath, Chandan called it. Hetal hoped he came sooner. She removed the gold and rubies she wore. She wanted no part of it. Her father’s hard earned money is something her father should use, not her. She had never stepped out of the house without telling her mother, but she was convinced that this was her becoming a woman. She quickly removed the small bundle of some money, clothes and bangles she had packed that morning. She picked up the silver statue of Krishna her grandmother gifted her when she was 8 and headed for the door. Ensuring nobody was at the main house amidst the commotion, she left for the backyard.

Chandan said he would wait there with his friend’s bike. There was no bike. There was no him. Where had he gone? She would be doomed if she were to walk back into the house now! She would be doomed if she were to walk away from her house without him! She felt all alone. Was her father right? Was he a beherupiya?

Little did she know that the boy she loved, the boy she wanted to grow up for was lying in the bottom of the unused well of her village, the same well they would meet by when the sun began to set. He was beaten and crushed to the point of no recognition. Little did she know that his last moments were spent crying, not because of the pain he bore but for her fate and what may lie ahead for her. He wanted to wait for her in the peechewali gali and whisk her away to the world he would build for her. And even at this hour, when his life was merely hanging on to him, he wanted to do it. To not live longer, but make his life matter, for her. He breathed out one last time, thinking of her beautiful hair and her deep watery eyes.

Hetal cried. Cried more bitterly than when she did as her father hit her with his stick. She never thought that as disrespect, she just took that as her fate. But this betrayal? She cried because she felt disrespected, because she had allowed it and it was not fate. With a deep breath, she made her decision. If she could make a boy make her feel so grown up and strong, she would make the woman in her make her unstoppable. She took the heaviest step forward, dismissing her fate and allowing her action to take charge. She walked, she jogged and then she finally ran towards the muddy road that lead to the town. Feeling the wind around her, she ran into the desert night with the ghosts of her past.

Conscious

Conscious

The pain shot through his head as if someone was stabbing it with white hot rods. His eyes fought through the pain and opened.

Strange faces were staring at him. A doctor was looking down at him… Concerned. A nurse was checking his IV bottle… Observant. The memory of a car pushing him to the curb almost brought the pain back, which made him scream, made him breathe and made him speak.

‘Who are you? Tell me your name’ probed the doctor.

‘Tyler Dickens. I’m from Chicago’, he managed.

‘Tyler, you met with an accident yesterday. It hurt your head pretty bad, but you seem much better now. We need to observe you longer. Do you have family we can speak to?’

‘Yes, My wife, Lynda’. He gave them the details.

All this while the nurse was staring at him. Like she was looking for something on his face. It scared him. So much, that he did not want to blame it on his pain and shock. He knew he had to get out of there.

As soon as the doctor and the nurse left the room, his military training kicked in, and he managed to pull the tubes off, pick up his tattered clothes and leave. Why hadn’t Lynda come yet? She was on the phone with him just before the freak accident. It didn’t fit.

He tried to call her from his calling card. Dead. He tried to access his bank on the teller machine. Denied. Strange. With a few spare bills in his jacket, he got himself a cab and headed to the one place he needed right now. Home.

When he reached the place he’s lived with his beautiful wife, and eight year old daughter, Wendy, he felt calmer. He found the front door open and barged in, expecting to be greeted by his little one.

‘Lynda! Wendy!’

His shouts were answered by a familiar voice. A familiar but unsure voice.

‘Hey. Who are you? What do you want? How dare you enter my house? I could call the cops!!’

It was Lynda. She looked beautiful. Too beautiful. Younger perhaps. And her blonde hair… It was shorter… way shorter. ‘What are you doing here? I will have you arrested. Get OUT!’

What just happened? What was his wife talking about? What happened to Wendy? What was he missing? It struck him to look around the house. His house. The furniture. The walls. Everything was the same, just as they planned it 6 years ago.  When he took a step closer to Lynda, what he saw behind her shocked him. It was a picture of their vacation to India last year. Himalayas… Lynda… Her new salwar. But where was he? Panic gripped him. This must be a nightmare. He couldn’t digest it, and blindly ran out of the house. Throat dry, he could feel the chagrin in his mouth.

Everything looked clear, as he recalled it. But the whole world seemed to have forgotten him. And just when he crossed over the lawn to get to the street, a blinding light hit him in the face and he groaned his way into the black.

The pain shot through his head as if someone was stabbing it with white hot rods. His eyes fought through the pain and opened.

‘Who are you? Tell me your name’ the same doctor, probed him again.

‘I… err’

He looked at the woman with long blonde hair, standing behind the doctor.

‘This is your wife, Lynda’, the doctor said.

She added, ‘Honey, I’m here to take you home’

The doctor looked concerned and turned to him. ‘Can you recall where you are from?’

‘I… I don’t remember…. Anything…’ he blinked. His mind was blank.

At the foot of the bed, the nurse observing him closely, smiled. ‘Amnesia’, she scribbled into his charts. She heard what she wanted to and walked away.