soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

Archive for the tag “life”

Claustrophobia

It’s Day 3 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge! What is this A-Z Blogging Challenge all about? An Aries new moon always inspires disruptive action of sorts. And A – Z Blogging Challenge was staring me in the face. As it is, it’s been a long time since I’ve really written fiction. I was missing my true love *wink,wink*. I attempted & completed A-Z Blogging Challenge in 2013 and partly, the following year (check out the A-Z posts by clicking on the A-Z in the category cloud). The past 2 years, I’ve been traveling up and down by the Mumbai local, 5 days a week. So, it’s inevitable that most of these stories – flash fiction – will be inspired by that daily commute. Drop in here, then, for your daily fix of sweet&spicy stories (from different genres) based on the 26 letters of the English Alphabet.

Read the previous stories here and here.

Read Claustrophobia below:

AtoZ2019C

CLAUSTROPHOBIA

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Hugging the doorway pole tight, she stood on the footboard of the Mumbai local which was her favourite place inside the train. Like the breeze that blew her hair all over her face, the train rushed forward, carrying its load of busy people.

She looked down. The adjoining track sped along in the opposite direction. Clumps of dried grass, bleached in the sun, dotted the ground between the tracks.

The strip of dry mud called out to her in tune with the wheels. Clang, clang, come, come, clang, clang, come, come. It looked so inviting: to just jump out and fall splat on the ground. The euphoria of freedom. All ties broken and unbroken, now redundant. Just one step forward.

She looked up. A fleet of birds fluttered upwards breaking free into the sky. The train slowed down as it entered into the station.

Women, keen to be an entrepreneur? My friend Cashmere has broken down the entire process into easy steps. Helpful for all. Check out her blog https://cashlash.blogspot.com/

THE MAGICIAN – An excerpt

(This is an excerpt from one of the many books I am revising and rewriting. Might be a bit raw, hopefully. Your comments and feedback most welcome).

A group of eunuchs crowded around the gate and insisted on entering the venue.

Their jewel-toned sarees looked gaudier with the fake gold and coloured gemstone jewellery that embellished their ears and necks. Thick bangles of colored glass interspersed with gilded ones made clanging sounds as they slapped their palms against each other at a 90 degree angle, making a peculiar clapping sound.

The two burly security men at the gate, who would in normal circumstances be very proficient in throwing out any intruder or miscreant, seemed to be at their wit’s end. They looked sheepish and bit wary as the enuchs harangued them with curses even as they stood between the eunuchs and the gate.

‘Kya baat hain? What’s the matter?”

Sasha moved forward and accosted them. Her ears filled with the sound of her thudding heart and her palms were suddenly sweating a lot. She was wary of the eunuchs and a bit scared too, as they had a bad reputation for hurling curses at people who annoyed them and legend was that these curses often came true. An elderly-looking eunuch, the mildest – looking of the lot stepped forward.

“Baksheesh chaaiye. We want a gift. This is such a happy occasion. Your wedding anniversary, isn’t it? You must let us dance and entertain the guests.”

“I’m sorry, that is not possible. And it is not a wedding or a birth. This is just a wedding anniversary party. What is the need for dancing? Please go away.” Sasha spoke politely, silently willing them to leave. Now she was beginning to get worried because very soon all the guests would start arriving and it would not be very good form to have the hostess having a run-in with the eunuchs at the gates of the venue.

“No,no we will not leave without the baksheesh,” countered Pushpa, the elderly eunuch.

“Yes, yes,” echoed the other eunuchs in unison and then they started singing Hindi film songs.

“Okay, okay, here take two hundred rupees and go.”

“Ha, ha, do you think we are beggars? Sorry, we will not take anything less than twenty-one hundred rupees”, admonished Pushpa. She was clearly ready to drive a hard bargain.

“Cheats,  they come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Why the hell should I pay her eleven hundred rupees? As if I am ecstatically happy with my marriage. It’s not even worth 500 rupees though I wonder how one can evaluate the worth of a marriage.” A mind-reader would have been shocked to hear these troublesome thoughts that passed through Sasha’s mind but none of that showed on her calm face.

“Five hundred and that’s my last offer.”

“May you have a long happy married life. May your children be blessed with a long and happy life. Twenty-one hundred  and not a paisa less”.

“OK, there’s nothing much to cheer me about my marriage, but I will give you eleven hundred rupees because you gave good blessings to my daughter. Take it and leave or else I will be forced to call the police”.

At this there was a lot of shouting and discussing amongst the eunuchs before Pushpa acquiesced  “Theeek hain. Okay, we will take the eleven hundred”.

A lot of singing of songs and circling of hands around Sasha’s head accompanied the handing over of cash to Pushpa.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Sasha turned around to enter the gate of the hotel.

“Beti, you will find a great love. Death, yes and then there will be pure love.”

Sasha spun around at these words and her eyes looked into the eyes of an old hag, wizened with age. Transvestite, woman or man, the ravages of time had wiped away all such demarcations. But, the eyes, they were as old as the earth, deep and wise, they seemed to be laughing at her.

Sasha’s heart started thumping. Death. This word registered in her mind. It sounded horrifying.

“And this old hag, wonder where she came from, I don’t remember seeing her, Why is she or is it he, whatever, why is it laughing at me?”

Just then the eunuchs boarded a passing taxi and left.

Consulting fees in A Municipal Hospital: Rupees Ten only

(This is for you , Aamir Khan and Satyamev Jayate)

 When I realized I had to get ENT testing done at a Municipal Hospital (for a certain certification), I tried to be optimistic despite a fair amount of trepidation.

 

And my fears were not unfounded.

 

The ‘new’ OPD bulged with erratic masses of men, women and babes – in – arms that sprouted from never-ending queues.  Some sat outside on the steps and a few even climbed atop a counter whose raison d’être the authorities had forgotten.

 

Confusion mixed with the heady fragrance of stale champa flowers worn by a group of women added to the market-like noisy ambience of the OPD which was in strong contrast to the quiet and somber OPD of private hospitals.

 

Desperation hung in the air. Only an hour remained to get the Case paper made before the counter closed for the day.

 

Windows 5 and 6 had the second-longest queues (these were for Ophthalmic and ENT Case papers) while the longest queue at Window No.4 was for renewing an existing Case paper (cost of a new one being Rs.10/-).

 

The shortest queue (almost non-existent) was at Window No.9 (for psychiatric cases).

 

I took my place at the end of the queue to Window No.5 hoping to use Creative Visualisation to make the queue move faster.

 

Through half-closed eyes (cr-vis, in progress), I noticed the other 7 unmanned windows. I also noticed the young man in front of me, frantically gesticulating to a young woman with an infant in arms, who was at the head of the queue. She would stand there for some time and then come back to the young man who would mutter something before she repeated her march towards Window No.5.

 

Was I curious to know what’s happening? Let’s just say, if I were a cat, I would be on the 9th life already.

 

The young lady was presumably trying to prevent people from breaking into the queue out-of -turn and failing miserably at that.

 

The hands of the clock were moving faster than the queue and I was desperate not to repeat this process on another day. The Case paper was to be had today and the testing had to be completed too.

 

Five minutes later, I was at the head of the queue and politely requesting friends, relatives and family members of those standing in the queue to go outside the OPD.  They acquiesced. I was secretly relieved.

 

On the other side, the young man, who was in front of me in the queue, was doing the same. His wife took his place in the queue.

 

Now that the queue was a single file, with no chance of anyone gate-crashing the queue-party, I turned my attention to the Man on the other side of the window. A gentle request to hasten the process met with no smile but the queue now moved slightly faster.

 

I felt optimistic about my case (someone was holding my place in that queue).

 

Suddenly, loud sounds of women and men quarreling assailed us. Two women and a man were disputing their place in the queue in front of Window 6. They went on repeating that they had been waiting in the queue for hours, quite forgetting that all the others has been, too.

 

Almost 50 pairs of eyes were suddenly turned towards me, the temporary monitor/ class-disciplinarian.

 

I was expected to solve this feud. A couple of voices even verbalized their expectation that I would do the needful.

 

“Why should I?  My queue is orderly and my number is not far from the window”. I was shocked at my own hesitation.  Ashamed, I intervened in the altercation and tried to pacify the disputants.

 

And while trying to get the second queue in order, too, I asked a question to myself, “Why couldn’t we, who were standing in the queue, discipline ourselves enough to wait in a single file and also not be the one to break into a queue out of turn?  Why was someone required to monitor us? Was this an in-born trait or could it be learned? Would being educated make a difference in this situation?”

 

What do you think?

 

 

(To Aamir Khan and SJ, because in the very first episode AK said that if any change has to come about it will be when each one of us changes).

GRAPES ARE SOUR

The idea of trying the untried seems to have gripped me with ‘weighty’ fervour, so this week, I continue on the same path – of weightloss – albeit poetically (first time ever!! No, not weightloss, poetry)

Comments most welcome 🙂

GRAPES ARE SOUR

Said an overweight vixen, weighing

herself on the scale,

“I seriously need to be a-dieting,

else my heart is sure to fail.”

 

Then she took a leg of mutton

and chewed it pensively,

Thinking of her meager diet,

wondering, if she wanted to take it seriously.

 

But, her husband and children were after her

to make her lose weight.

They said, “It will make you feel better

and even improve your gait.”

 

She loved them and so

she gave in to their demands.

The diet said to eat every two hours and

even when not hungry, she followed all the commands.

 

Fruits were absolutely forbidden

She was diabetic, you see.

“Oh my God,” the vixen cried,

“Poor hungry me, poor hungry me.”

 

And then she saw the luscious grapes.

Red and juicy and ripe.

They were just out of her reach,

that was her only gripe.

 

She jumped and jumped

and then jumped some more.

But nary could she touch the grapes,

even though her feet were very sore.

 

“Ha, ha, so near, yet so far,”

laughingly, said the sparrow.

She had been watching the vixen’s antics

and was amused by her sorrow.

 

Pretending to misunderstand the Chirpy One,

the vixen didn’t allow her pride to fall.

“I was just doing my cardio,” she said

“Fruits are not allowed in my diet, I recall.”

 

Her crest-fallen words were received with

hoots of malicious laughter.

The sparrow tweeted, “Grapes are sour, grapes are sour,”

The words rang in the vixen’s mind, ever after.

 

 

Post Navigation