Best birthday gift ever

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photo by Annie Theby via Unsplash

“Happy Birthday Daddy!!” Laila exclaimed as she revealed the Microbus to Ethan. Ethan was dumb with surprise looking at the best birthday gift he had ever had. Though his Hippie days were behind him now, this gift would be the link to the memory of those eventful years.


Flash fiction in response to Three line tales hosted by Sonya.


The Volkswagen Microbus is often called a Hippie Van. Some details here.

 

Emma’s rock

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PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

“Why are you late to school Emma?” demanded Vicki.

“It’s not MY fault. That rock in front wouldn’t stop talking!”

“Emma, you are a big girl now. You cannot get away with such stories.”

“But it is TRUE! He speaks to me every day”

“Oh really? What does he tell you?”

“You know, how his mother was so angry, she fumed for weeks and then threw him out on a red river. He finally stopped here. He says he was so lonely till I became his friend.”

Vicki could not help laughing. Emma had summarized the previous lesson so beautifully!

Word count: 100


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

Always trust the captain

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Photo credit: Dorothy

The feeling of liberation I get every time I cycle is priceless! It helps me tune out of the noise in my head and tune into the melody of nature. I love the mystery of the day’s performance. Would I be enthralled by the wheels crunching gravel or its steady hum over tarmac? Would I be greeted with a chilling breeze or a gentle warmth?

Over the past year though, I have come to realize that this joy of weightlessness is not because of these enchantments. The real reason is that I have learned to give up my need to control and blindly put my trust in another. I cannot tell you what an exhilarating feeling it is to feel completely protected by the caption! As a stoker, all I need to do is pedal, obey, relax, listen and feel.

Every time I cycle now, I am ever grateful for having found the Tandem Club.

Word Count: 154


Flash fiction in response to FFfAW hosted by Priceless Joy.


Captain: The front rider who pedals and steers. Stoker: Rear rider.

Some tidbits on tandem cycling.

My mother’s journey

It was the first time I had seen my mother completely break down and cry. Not the welling of eyes or the gentle, lonely tear deserting it. I witnessed the violence of emotions breaking through a barrier of space and time, unseen by me and known only to her. I stood still, incapable of reacting. Was the lady sobbing uncontrollably really my mother? Where had these tears been all these years? My mother had always been cold, distant, stoic. An alien in a city she migrated into. Till that day, I had never known my mother was even capable of such strong emotions.

What was all the more surprising was that this torrent had been triggered by a place that had absolutely no resemblance to its past. Everything had changed. The homes, lanes, trees, even the smells. I realize now that the changes, drastic though they were, could not have ebbed the deluge of memories. Just the “sense” of familiarity was all that was needed. The setting “felt” similar to the one into which I was born; into which my parents were born. It was the place where they had roamed the fruit orchards together, bathed in the village well, climbed trees, played with tops and screamed from the hills. The place where their friendship gradually morphed into matrimony and matrimony into parenthood. The place where they pieced together a space they could call their own. This place had been their asylum, their identity. This place then, left its searing mark on my mother’s life and beyond, on its destruction. The earthquake had not only shaken her world, it had shaken her identity. The once happy, talkative, dreamer was left broken amongst the ruin. Although my grandmother had recounted this tale on a number of occasions earlier, the true enormity of the tragedy was revealed to me by her tears on that day.

I recollected my grandmother’s words. The catastrophe had come unannounced on a day like any other. My mother was trying to feed an adamant me, then a one-year-old, on the porch. My father was in the bedroom, mending a broken chair. Suddenly, the earth started shaking violently with the rumble of distant thunder. Terrified, overcome by a mother’s instinct, she clutched me to herself and ran outside – just in time to see the building collapse into a pile of debris, my father included. It was probably at that moment that my mother lost herself. She stood still, staring at her wrecked life as I clung to her and cried. There lay somewhere, crushed under the weight of fate, the love of her life and her soul. Covered in gray dust, matted all over, she knew she had committed the unthinkable mistake. She had run outside instead of going inside to her husband. She had lived and lost her life. If she had survived, it was as only as a punishment for the unforgivable. She cried only after three days; days she had spent as a corpse. But the tears had been brief then and rarely breached thereafter too. Perhaps, she thought deserved every predicament that came her way; accepted her punishment as a means to redemption… Soon, being too poor and too broken to revive their livelihood, we had all migrated to the city to eke out a living.

As far as my memory stretches, my mother had only struggled. I am still amazed at the courage and resilience with which she spent her life trying to provide me with a decent education, often at much cost to her health. The only thing she held back though – was love. She never loved me and didn’t feel the need to be loved. She just needed to get by with living. It was my grandmother who taught me to love and accept love. Who knows how I might have turned out if not for her anchor while my mother drifted in a sea of misery.

The drift seemed to stall about 5 months back. Perhaps she had sensed the end was near. She wanted to return to her roots, her village and thus began her journey of forgiveness. Somehow, that journey changed her. It seemed to give her a semblance of long lost peace. With each passing day, her spirits rose as her health receded. She died last week…. I can’t say that I loved her with all my heart. But I can say that I cried like a child.

Word count: 741


Requirement is to write a prose within 750 words using the optional prompt “I am amazed at her mountainous courage.”

This story runs like a personal non-fiction essay without dialogues. My modest attempt for this week.


The climax

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Photo credit: Sammi Cox

The situation reached its climax at sunset when I squealed for mercy in front of the muzzle, seconds before it shone in a flash of brilliance, leaving me a wandering, vengeful ghost in this dark jungle; until you crossed my path.


Can you guess whose fear would have been greater, the dead or soon to be dead? 😉


Microfiction in response to Weekend Writing Prompt hosted by Sammi Cox. The challenge was “Prose Challenge – Write a pangram – a single sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet at least once – inspired by the theme of fear and set in the photo.”

 

Artificial Intelligence!!

The comment from Maddie on my post,  Supreme being of them all! got me perplexed. When I had posed the question, I had thought about only biological beings. But his comment on artificial intelligence forced me to contend with intelligent machines too. The first question to answer is then: Should they be considered inclusively in the “beings” class?

Although I find accepting this extremely difficult, the more I think, the more I convince myself to say “Yes”. Artificial intelligence allows machines to think and learn. It allows them to interact with everyday objects seamlessly, make decisions based on past experiences and so on. These are cognitive abilities that so far have been restricted to biological beings with a somewhat evolved brain. A bacteria in comparison is far less intelligent (though it defeats us all in being adaptable and hence surviving any adverse condition). These intelligent beings (yeah there I called them beings) may be missing some abilities, yet, but I do believe it is only a matter of time before they gain these advanced abilities too.

Which brings me back to the first question. Who is the supreme of them all? Suddenly, even the prospect of this question is too scary, too significant to grasp and too ambiguous to answer rationally in the present. For now, I table this question and retire to watch time reveal the answer.

 

 

 

Right to Silence Act

I would like to make an appeal to you all. Can we together demand a legislation for a “Right to Silence” Act? Why you ask? While every person has their “Right to free speech”, in a moving, communal vehicle, I would like to be able to assert my “Right to Silence”. That’s why. Picture this: Traveling in India in a bus that is stuffed to breaking point with people, with most of the said people enjoying their right to free speech. Now imagine enduring this ordeal every working day for at least two hours. That’s my lot in life. Yes. Thank you for the handkerchief.

Every time I am on the bus, I am forced to listen to a 17-year-old gushing about the man she has plans to marry, a business man loudly showing “who is the boss” on the phone, an unfazed lady expounding her quick fix recipe and on and on and on it goes. Why, Oh WHY do I need to know about every random person’s life or character when I am enough of a character for myself to deal with! It is truly amazing how much, how loudly, how indifferently people can converse. I do deeply understand their need to be entertained for two hours on a choked, smoke filled, hot day. I say, talk by all means. But could you please tone down that volume knob?

It makes me wonder. When your physical being is intruded upon, it is deemed rude. I can’t go ramming into people right? Then how come this kind of assault is perfectly acceptable? Sigh… This situation is so chronic that as soon as I get home, I shut off “everything”. I don’t want to listen to a single pin drop. However, as always, life moves on and I gather barely enough strength to survive another day of the tonal assault.

Hereby, I reiterate the intention of this post. I beseech you good Samaritans to please support my plea for the enactment of “Right to Silence” Act. Let there be —-.

 

 

Premeditated murder

He marveled at his ingenious plan for murder as he rang the bell, a single red wood lily in his hand. As always, the music of piano greeted him as she opened the door. He kissed her and entered, looking for his would-be victim; that darned, annoying cat.

Word count: 48


Lilies (some) are fatal for cats. Check out some tidbits here.

 

Lovely day

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PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

She was nervous as she stepped into the drab office for the meeting. At least there were flowers to look at among the piles of stacked boxes while she waited. Rajan entered cheerfully and shook her hand.

“Lovely day isn’t it? Hope you could find our office easily.”

“Oh yes! No problem.”

“Please, how can I help you Mrs. Karthik”.

“Actually” she hesitated. “How do I say this? As you know, you owe the bank more than 10 lakhs. I have come to tell you that if this situation continues, we would need to confiscate your assets. Hope you understand.”

Word Count: 100


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

The storm

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Angry, he dashed out of the room of the beach side resort leaving her to console herself. He put on the life vest unthinkingly, out of habit and picked up his kayak, ignoring the other red one next to his. He paddled into the troubled ocean, a murky gray reflection of gathering gloom. “Get out as fast as you can when you see a storm, especially lightning” he recalled his instructor say so many years back. “Lightning strikes the tallest object it can find and that could well be you”.

He laughed derisively at the memory. “Oh yeah? Bring it on! Let us see who beats whom.” he said defiantly as he went deeper into the ocean that was as turbulent as he was. She sat waiting, alone in the dark room.

Photo courtesy: TJ Paris

Word Count: 132


Flash Fiction in response to FFfAW hosted by Priceless Joy.