Divya Garg Gitanjali Maria Shloka Shankar Drishti Nagdeo
Lakshmi Venkatesh Mauli Joshi Rianne Samuel Ruchika Pahwa
Shobhana Kumar Sudha Viswanathan Swatilekha Roy
Vaidyanathapuram Shankar Sohini Ghosh Bhupendra Kumar Dave
The day of Navratri, purity in the air. Incense sticks and vibrant Diya flames brought the perfect illumination and calmness in the room that can made one stay in room just a little longer. The chanting and hymns started since early morning, to get it completed before son leaves for office. Mother beautifully draped in the hue of orange, and Father elegantly dressed in the beige color kurta pajama.
A whoosh of air, reverberant sound just crossed their son.
Are you there?
Are you there, Aunty?”
Was it someone calling his mother or was it Auditory hallucination.
Every day Musings
I looked out of the window. There were people scurrying to reach their workplaces, cars honking and drivers cursing for more space and speed. I wondered whether they are always like this, angry and impatient. Maybe not, maybe yes. It all depended on where you were in the hierarchy. The car driver scoffs at the auto-rickshaw driver, the security guard brandishes the Uber driver, the young executive scorns at the security guard, the manager shouts at the young executive and client VP at the manager. All of us wearing different masks and changing them as per the requirements of the role. After all, isn’t life a stage!
“Do you have trouble sustaining friendships?”
“All the time, in fact.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“Someone told me I’m emotionally maturer than my peers. That could be it.”
“Do you sometimes find yourself at a loss to describe how you feel?”
“What has that got to do with anything?”
“It’s at the heart of everything. Do you ever express yourself?”
“Only when I can’t take it anymore and the pressure starts to build.”
“Do you, really?”
waiting the wait a few hundred visualizations
The moon replied!
I asked the moon, “how is it that I can’t take my eyes off you?” The moon chuckled, saying, “Darling, it’s I who had fallen for you in the first place. Those eyes, the way they smiled to me, that sparkle, made me fall for you”.
Astounded, I asked, “then?”
“Then, I had to use my magic. I had to make sure that those eyes searched for me every night. It was me who made you turn thrice. When you started going, I held you with all my might.”
“That could be the best misuse of magic”, murmured the selenophile.
My heart broke, not that she screamed to rip my self-respect, but, she dishonoured my robe with comments that almost dismantled the hopes, that I had collected, to be with my better half. I had just begun my life and she had almost finished halfway. What’s so wrong to tease the small stain that any womanhood, would have got? Why to comment so ruthlessly and laugh with the unknown, of the phase that she too went through!
I realised then, her end is going to be tough…
“AS YOU SOW, SO SHALL YOU REAP”
(END WAS TOUGH… RESPECT YOUR SOUL)
“Long live the king, longer live the queen,” hailed the crowds.
“Why would you live longer than me, my dear,” asked the still naïve king.
The queen whose juvenility was the talk of the town replied, “it’s the game of chess my lord, where the king can win if the queen lives the longest.”
“Does that mean they want me to live –”
The obstinate queen interrupted, “Can the Kingdom live without its king?”
Her parlance had often dissolved the doubts of many.
“Can the queen live without her king?”
Two drops of venin in the king’s goblet was the answer.
The Swing Chair
The whistle of the kettle pulled her back to the present. She quickly picked herself up from the swing chair that was carefully placed near the window sill. Jack fixed the swing chair himself. After pouring a cup of tea for herself, she went back to the window sill. That’s where she did all her thinking. The hot cup of chamomile tea, in some way, helped with the tiredness. After all, the funeral preparations had drained her out. The house fell silent once more; the love of her life was gone. Memories now took over her consciousness again.
“Hey, I want to read that story,” demanded Harry, pointing in the direction where Rachel was sitting on a sofa chair.
She replied, “It’s just an outline. There are many fine details to work on. You know, authors have to fill colors in their story’s outline before they can hand it over to readers. It’s like you filling colors in your paintings.” Rachel said with a faint smile.
Harry came closer, looked at her draft, and looked up, “Take a break, Rachel. I want to read ‘your’ story.”
“It’s an outline, Harry.”
“I’ll fill it with shining colors,” said Harry.
She has survived, alright. Eight years, a hundred thousand miles and counting. Her seats hide a million memories—spilt coffee, profound conversations with fifteen-year-olds, drenched-in-sweat-evening trips from football, the anger of rejections, the blushes from crushes, long silences, one hell of a lot of swearing (alone, of course), notes to self and even some poetry.
Today, eyes well. For the first time her scars are visible. Depreciation, they call it.
Unable to withstand the stampede in the crowded bus, the fragile strap of my sandals ripped apart.
Limping my way, I reached the restaurant where I was to meet my prospective groom for the first time.
An hour with no sign of the guy, I limped my way back to the auto stand and reached home only to find my parents waiting with an anxiety writ countenance.
“The guy called up to say that we had cheated him. He says you are lame. Apparently he had seen you limping.”
I smiled as I realized that ‘Marriages were made in Heaven.’
I had fished them out without conviction. Photographs of a stranger, posing with the sun in her hair, sea in her eyes, and the universe in her smile. Asha, who was scared of monsters.
“I love you, Asha”, I told the mirror with conviction.
My acid burns did what they always do: burn.
The God Man
Arun recognized him immediately… No room for any doubt.
The ‘God man’ started his usual sales pitch unsuspectingly, pleading for some cash or kind for the needy. He showed no signs of recognition, nor could he have possibly remembered Arun.
Arun, curbing the seething anger building up, heard him out and told him, “Sorry, can’t really help you now.”
“Sir, please try to give something, whatever you can spare.”
Arun drove the blade of the pen knife into the abdomen of the man who was walking free after molesting Arun’s sister, declaring,
“Sorry, this is all I have now!”
It was not the usual kind of hand. It was exceptionally soft with innumerable number of lines patterned intricately all over the palm. The nails had been shapely cut but there was no polish. That was unfortunate.
But what intrigued me most about the hand was the enormous ring on the forefinger. The diamond shaped ring head was covering half of the middle finger.
I stopped examining the hand and tenderly wiped the blood dripping from it before hanging it on my wall. The space in the centre was finally filled. It was now time to work on the corners.
A scientist being proud of his recent achievements, approached God and said, ‘Listen, we can now do all kinds of things. We no longer need you.’
God heard him patiently and smiled, ‘Think well before I vanish.’
‘Yes,’ he replied curtly.
Seeing the image of God vanishing, he said, ‘Now man is supreme.’ But then he saw his laboratory gradually disappearing. He collapsed. He felt as if he was floating in space. He tried to look below before losing his consciousness. There was nothing — even his body that he loved so much had vanished. He was dead.
Bhupendra Kumar Dave