Place to dream

“I need a place to dream,” Polly said looking out at the high rises around her.

“Well, the bed is right there,” Mother said irritating her further. She returned to her book, drowning in it, escaping her boxed reality.

lights-of-sturgis

PHOTO PROMPT© Jan Wayne Fields

The beauty of the place took her stale breath away, infusing her with fresh life. The “shorter route” had led them to paradise.

“Mom! This… I don’t know what to…”

“I know dear. Go dream” Mother said leading her forward through the string of starry fairy lights. For that night, they let the nothingness beyond the tent weave theirs dreams.

Word count: 99


Flash fiction in response to Friday Fictoneers hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff.


Thank you, Rochelle and Jan for this stunning pic. It really is a place of dreams and starry nights.

Village festival

photo-20170821154600381

Some memories never fade. For Savitha, such memories are stacked from those of the annual festival in her village. The colors of the decorations of the temple, her village, and its people; the din of the loudspeakers – spouting a devotional song here and a film song there; the tales from Mahabharata and Ramayana and of course, the fair. It was a day of luxury when she could enjoy giant wheel rides, get a photo of herself, stuff herself with cotton candy and an assortment of sweets till she could have no more. On the day of the main festival, she would hold her mother’s saree as they sat in a line in front of the temple – each in front of the wood fire, cooking up Sakkarai Pongal as offering to the God. Somehow, that Pongal would be the tastiest she would eat that year.

It might have been three years since she even visited her village, ensnared in the daily routine of a mundane, city life. Some memories, however, sustain her.

Word count: 172


Sakkarai Pongal: Sweet made from rice, lentils, jaggery, and milk. Believe me, it is so yummy (my mouth is watering as I am writing this!).

Image result for sakkarai pongal brahmin recipe

Such village festivals are held throughout Tamil Nadu in villages and towns. Extremely colorful, noisy and full of life. It is entirely impossible to capture the essence of these in 175 words….  Some images here.

Pongal Festival


Flash fiction in response to FFfAW hosted by Priceless Joy.

Convincing Suma

“You really should seek help you know.” I begin, being the responsible elder sister and all.

“Yeah… I know.” she drags, looking into her uneaten dinner plate, into a plate of pain.

“Suma. This is no joke ok? Look at you! Look at how much weight you have lost this last month. You don’t eat. You don’t even get a night’s worth of restful sleep. How long can you sustain like this?”

More staring at the plate with more melancholy writ on the face. Time to step up the game.

“Sigh… Look dear. You know I mean well… I have been through this myself. Trying to ignore it will not make the pain go away.”

“I KNOW Akka. But YOU don’t know what I am going through. What is it for you? You are brave. You could do it. I am not, ok? I can’t. I just can’t!”

Say something. Quick!

“It’s not like that at all! Courage is not something you are born with. It is what you acquire over time. Every time you face your fears you get more courageous.” Wow! Where did those words of wisdom come from? And at such an opportune moment. Certainly, this should change her mind?

“Pfft.”

Ok. Obviously, wisdom didn’t work. Try compassion?

“Suma, I understand you are scared… Will you feel better if I come with you? I can take time off from college you know. It’s ok by me.”

Some melting evident. Hey! Good job! But don’t look too happy just yet.

“Come on! I can only do so much. YOU have to do the rest. Believe me, it is not as bad as you think it is. Just imagine… You will be out of this misery you seem to have gotten yourself into and enjoy life as before. You will be yourself again. ”

Oh, some change! Ok. Look serious. Look like you mean it. Don’t lose it now!

“Ok, Akka… I guess I do have to do something about it…. Tomorrow is ok?”

“Perfect.”

She clutches my hand as sweat peeps out on her forehead. “I am so, SO scared,” she whispers, fear overpowering her.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be ok” I reassure her as I guide her into the dentist’s clinic.



The message

Why is it? Now that I am a few moments from death, the only thing I can see is the color. Perhaps, it is only fitting – for it has dominated me for decades. I remember how it first crept into my wardrobe in college and then slowly colonized it by the time I was done. It represented my reason for existence, my path, my message… Well, there is nothing else to do now but to keep repeating the message.

Dear Lord! Please accept this white flag of surrender. Thy will be done. You think of it.

Word Count: 97


Flash fiction in response to hosted by Weekend writing prompt Sammi Cox.

The challenge:  Pick a saying that has a color in it (green as envy, seeing red, blue murder, not black and white, etc) and write a story about it, using no more than 100 words.

A losing battle

Each drop gasps for breath,
Just as it touches the water.
Reaching out, seeking help,
Surviving for a moment more.
Drowning with the effort,
And plunging to the bottom,
Drop by drop the rain loses,
Its battle for identity.

Poet’s inspiration

tltweek81

photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha via Unsplash

“The wood, while burning itself, imparts just enough warmth to gently melt the cheese into a delicious pizza without charring; much like a person suffering from one-sided love,” observed Rohan over their dinner at the local pizzeria.
“I didn’t know a pizza could inspire poetry – especially from a dud like you,” retorted Revathi.
“Pizza might not, but your boring talk could!” chuckled Rahul while Revathi hit him in mock contempt.


Flash fiction in response to Three Line Tales hosted by Sonya.

 

The beacon

closet-shower-2

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sahil anxiously opened the door to his tiny apartment. Rita hadn’t answered his calls all day and now the apartment was completely dark. He immediately rushed to the bathroom – its light glowing like a beacon. Here, he found her note.

“All these years you let me wallow in penury. You never let me have even 100 bucks for myself. How could you have been so selfish you bastard! Don’t try to contact me and good luck finding your stash.”

Sahil collapsed on the floor. He thought he had gotten away with the heist… If only she had called him!

Word count: 100


Flash fiction in response to “Friday Fictioneers” hosted by the lovely Rochelle.

Cocoa joy!

photo-20170814203043692

A connoisseur of books, she knew the perfect pairing. The book she was reading needed a piping hot cocoa. Gigi put the cup into the microwave and lazily pressed the 5 min button. She continued her reading by the microwave with an occasional glance in its direction. She would wait till the just right moment as she always did.

The doorbell broke the focus from her book. Ryan was at the door, flowers in hand, grin on his mouth, unabashed happiness in his heart. He kissed her passionately as soon as he entered.

“Gigi! You’ll not believe this!”

“What? Whaaatttt??”

“We are going to make it Gigi! We are going to finally make it. Our research has been accepted. We are going to be published, Gigi!! And guess what? We are getting $5000 as advance!”

Gigi jumped in elation “Oh wow!! Ryan, this is crazy! I am so happy!”

Ryan and Gigi hugged each other, their hearts overflowing with joy. The cocoa mimicked them in the microwave.

Photo courtesy artycaptures.

Word Count: 167


Flash fiction in response to FFfAW hosted by Priceless Joy.

A Helping hand

“Why do you want to join our organization, Nita?”

“To help people. The same reason this organization was setup.”

“You have to be more specific than that Nita. The job demands the deepest compassion, sensitivity, discretion and above all an unbiased outlook. This job is not just about helping people. And this is not for just about anybody with a helping heart.”

Chastised, Nita knew she had to tell the truth – no matter how painful it might be. She closed her eyes and sighed. After a few moments of silence, she provided a considered and controlled response.

“I lost my father couple of years back. He left me an orphan, a lost child in an unaccustomed world bereft of his kindness. I felt utterly helpless, drifted into depression, performed poorly at my job; lost my will to live. A few of my friends helped me out… They suggested I take up MSW. I don’t know how they could think of this option. But it was the best thing that anybody could have done for me. I finally found some semblance of meaning, some hope for peace…. That is why I want to join your organization madam. To help find me through unbiased service.”

Nita was assigned to a team that would help impart education to prostitutes of Kamathipura in Mumbai. On reaching, Nita was completely overwhelmed despite the meticulous training she had undergone. The narrow lanes, the filth, the stack of barely standing rooms. The sheer variety of men, the heavily made up women behind barred windows. The sudden reality of a life so unjust, so stifling, so normal despite it being so extraordinary… At once, her own problems diminished in comparison and she realized how grateful she was for her life. However, she was also overcome with nagging doubts about her ability to be of any service at all. She entered the small room, tense and unsure of herself.

Soon after, Rupa entered, book in hand. Nita observed her face – calm, fierce, ageless. Devoid of makeup, she looked like any other lady who had suffered the severe adversities of life with a mature indifference rooted in acceptance. Nita recalled her training. She was not trained enough for psychological rehabilitation. She would teach – teach as if Rupa was any other adult.

“Hi. Welcome to the class. My name is Nita. What is your name?” she asked gently.

“I am Rupa.”

“Hi, Rupa. Before we begin, tell me, have you had any education before?”

“Yes. I studied till the eighth standard.”

“Ok, that’s great! We can proceed fairly fast initially then. Can I ask you one more thing? How much do you want to study? I mean do you want to pass the 12th or something more advanced?”

“I want to graduate madam. I am not sure in what though. Perhaps, once you see me studying you can suggest which course I should take?”

“Surely. I am so glad to hear you say this! But, let us take this one step at a time, shall we? We need to plan to study for multiple hours every day. Depending on how we progress, it could take some time. It is very important that you continue to stay dedicated and focused throughout.”

“Yes madam I know. I will not drop out later if that’s what you fear”. Rupa smiled; a strange smile – knowing, dry and devoid of cheer. “A degree could help me get out of here. Perhaps. I don’t know. But I am not completely helpless you know, yet. I have lived like this for so long that a different life seems too distant, too unreal anyway. I am not sure if I may even like it…. The thing is madam, I want to study because I like to study. I want a degree against my name. I may not flaunt it, I may not use it. It may not even help me. But I want it – if only to fulfill a dream I once had.”

Nita looked into Rupa’s serene face wondering how many more dreams and who knew what horrors were compressed under that facade

“Rupa, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t doubt you. My intent was just to let both of us know what we are getting into. That’s all….Come, let’s work together, Rupa. For however long it may take till we get you that degree.”

Neither of them ever missed a class right from that first day.

Word count: 744



MSW: Master of Social Work

Kamathipura is Mumbai’s oldest red light district. An article about Kamathipura.

Wikipedia link.

Wielding power

vines-coiling

“It’s an intricate problem.” said Martin.

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I need your help” replied Solomon staring at the gnarled vines. The garden, that had always calmed him failed to do so on that day. The coiling veins seemed to be stifling his thoughts.

“Let’s talk as we walk.” he said.

Martin continued. “It’s a bloody genius technology, Solomon. Surely it will help thousands of people suffering from that dastardly disease to live a normal life… This research could even win you the Nobel Prize you know. You would certainly deserve it too.”

“Yes, I know Martin! But can I knowingly do it? What if someone else discovers how easily this molecule could be changed? In fact, it is only a matter of time. Then what? It can be used to kill thousands.”

“Yes. But we are scientists Solomon. Can we let the fear of future stop the science of today?”

“I don’t know!” Solomon said with obvious anguish. “I have to live with the decision I make Martin. Oh! Why does it have to be me to make a decision as momentous as this Martin?”

“Because you can.” replied Martin coming to a stop.

Solomon looked up in surprise. They were in front of the church. He hadn’t entered it ever since his mother had been snatched from him by that cursed disease… Unthinkingly he peered inside; as if searching for an ancient memory. Suddenly, his face lit up.

“Let’s go, Martin. I know what to do.”

Word count: 249


Short story in response to Prose challenge hosted by Sammi Cox.

Prose Challenge – Write a story in 250 words that begins with the line: “It’s an intricate problem.”. We should also try to incorporate the photo prompt.