'Bang! Bang! Bang!!!' Short Story Author: Kleio B'wti ©www.wakenshine.com, 2017.

Bang! Bang!! Bang!!!

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Rick liked it all.

 

He liked his friends, his job, his neighbors, the street dogs that accompanied him every time he went out for a walk. Every person who envied him or felt aggressive towards him regrettably couldn’t say a sole callous word for him. They ended up flattering him and his compassion. All they could say to vent out was that there was something 'wicked' about those twinkling eyes.

 

Those eyes squinted when they smiled, laughed in those grim conferences and shouted "I told you so" when the boss took someone to task. Yet his face remained expressionless. The strangest bit in this whole phenomenon was the fact that only his rivals and enemies could read his eyes. The others found them most safe and happy.

 

There is a certain connection that a person has with his critics. They somehow comprehend them better.

 

The doubters may not value the person's achievements nonetheless, they do identify the shortcomings. Rick's enemies were no different. They saw his eyes were bloodshot under those sunglasses. Scretly, they sniggered and clandestinely jested at the happy man. They knew something was amiss. The man- everyone's idealized had a foe that kept him awake at nights or made him cry to oblivion.

 

The detractors kept fussing over it, the admirers kept on loving him, and the days passed.

 

The cloudy days looked sunny when he smiled and the sunny days less scorching when he crooked his Aviator-glasses towards them. Life was happening when he was around- a star in the universe he lived in. This is how the world perceived him. Rick, however, did not think on the same lines of his aficionado and abhorrent.

 

He was a guy who detested the mirror. He kept his hair really short because he was scared to look at his reflection. It was better to just brush his short crew cut and run his fingers through them to make them look groomed. He regularly took professional help to get a shave. His trusted hair-dresser followed his orders and covered the mirror for him when he visited the salon.

 

He didn't mind people. They were a welcome distraction – a diversion to keep his mind away from what lay under the layers of dark things that went on in his brains. One day, he grazed his hand on an iron fence and was astonished to see red liquid oozing out of his fingers. He had believed his blood was black too. So much had happened, the snapshots never left him. He was gratified to have people around him; thanking them with an open admiration.

 

He was scared.

 

Ricky, whom everyone loved was unloved by his own self. Although he hid his real persona from the world, only he knew what he signified. He represented the worst. The dark fear, the sorrow, the pain, the remorse never left him. Whenever he slept the nightmares -real than life, filled his intellectual space with trepidation. He saw himself as a three-year-old, smiling almost laughing and pulling the trigger.

 

Bang! Bang!! Bang!!

 

He saw all his family falling. Dad went first, then his brother on the second and then his lifeline- his Momma on the third. The judges in the court were funny. They did not shoot the last of the cartilage in him. They forgave him saying it was an accidental death by a toddler. He understood what death was when they took him to the graveyard. Were they dead?

 

Perhaps they weren’t.

 

They were buried and try how much he might he would not be able to dig six feet underneath. 6- feet under was more than layers that differentiated the living from the lifeless. His soul had departed with them. Sadly, he was all alone- still breathing. He had buried his spirit with them but the inhalation wouldn't stop.

 

As a grown up, he stood against violence- championed against possession of domestic ammunitions. He wanted to tell others that there was still a chance that he had lost. Yet, more people got licensed guns. Ricky spent sleepless nights for days; sometimes months. Clinically they said he was an insomniac.

 

Poignantly Ricky believed he was a murderer, a lover of a weapon that had wiped his family, his lifeline, his hope, and future.

 

He stood and fought with every legislator. He stood in rallies taking leave without pay to fight the law of firearm possession. Yet, it was all in vain. What he saw was that three-year-old toddler killing them all one by one.

 

Bang!  Bang!!  Bang!!!

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'Ballerina' Short Story Author: Kleio B'wti ©www.wakenshine.com, 2017.

Ballerina

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She wanted to wear those beautiful red heels and dance! She could see her blond hair bob in a ponytail every time she swished through the rink, a beauty an elegant angel with posteriors stretching to perfection!

 

The crowd applauded with her every swirl. Their cheers rose a crescendo when she twirled around. No other human could sway into immaculate circles like her. Only she could ever achieve such perfection!

 

She was a dancer - 'the' Ballerina.

The Ballerina swayed as the wind, who flowed as those orange leaves in autumn! She was that perfect creation of nature that only enhanced from perfection to surreal.

 

Every curve of her pirouette filled the world with the scent of heaven- the glitter from the sky. She could make the sun rise with her leaps, the waves rose high with her Degage. She could awaken a volcano in her Allegro and bring rain with that swift Tour en l'air.

 

Beautiful Ballerina Croiséd in quintessential harmony, she created hues of red, pink, gold, violet, silver. The Ballerina conjured bubbles of warmth and clouds of a dream. A never ending dream, spotless, precise, untouched- the ultimate concoction of swilling sentimentality- a piece of her heart.

Our Song Recommendation for this Short Story!

Anna's Clutter Short Story Author: Kleio B'wti ©www.wakenshine.com

Anna’s Clutter

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The phone rang incessantly; unanswered.

 

Then there was total silence. It was broken repeatedly with the ‘tring- din’. Yet there was no response. Huddled in the corner, she shivered in spite of herself. She was determined. Come what may she wouldn’t answer that call.

 

A few years back, she would make sure to answer the buzz instantly. It was then! She couldn’t bear the sound of that gadget any longer. There was no respite. It wouldn’t stop until she paid heed to it. The instrument ran her life, currently. She was its slave. Try, however, she may, it was futile. It wanted to get heard.

 

Times had changed. Once she governed her own life. She called- demanded people’s time and significance. Yet today the role had reversed. The one she ruled was ruling her off late. Alas! Was there an end? If only she were deaf or dead! She wasn’t a masochist, though for she could never pierce and damage her ear drums with screwdrivers nor could she take her own life.

 

She was in a daunting zone- was shattered. Not anymore! She couldn’t take it anymore.

 

Anna sat on the cold floor shivering. She was alright in the freeze than to enjoy the comfort of her room where that much-hated object lay- her phone. Anna had been reduced to a heap of sorrow. The last few months had only brought bad news. She had received calls about her retrenchment from her workplace.

 

The place she worshiped; her vault that paid her that huge remuneration. The only good news that wretched ‘thing’ communicated was of her sister becoming a mother of healthy twins. Once she had heard her friends laugh, cry, bitch and chat a little more. She had loved to participate in those discussions. Not today.

 

This day was different. The thought of the phone receiver against her ear was nerve wrecking. It pierced her soul with fear. Wrapped in her sad thoughts, she missed the first few rings until it haunted her again. She didn’t know when, however, she had fallen asleep.

 

A buzz awoke her. She tried to ignore, yet it stayed. She opened her eyes to the summer afternoon. Rays of the sun filtered into her room. “You better get up and get that.” Sleep had cleared the fuzz a little. It had transferred sunny warmth and a little courage. She wobbled to the phone, the ring had stopped, yet the display light showed a hundred calls missed. Anna wondered the century of chances she had missed in life.

 

Clearly, it wasn’t something that was displayed on some wretched screen. Anna lived with her own demon, never shared her pain. She couldn’t get it all back, she knew. Why retrieve the phone calls she had missed, then? She closed her eyes and asked ‘Siri’ to erase the call log.

 

Suddenly it re-commenced- the ring! Startled! Scathed by the objectionable item, she dropped it from her shivering fingers. Nonetheless, it rang and rang. She blocked her ears with cotton balls. Yet, she heard them- the ‘tring-dins’.

 

She rummaged through her belongings to cover her head with a scarf- no respite. Then the helmet-no it still had her ears exposed. Now she tried to glue some Thermocol roughly cut into ear sized rounds, they fell off. She hid under the mattress of the bed and piled her head with pillows. No, they wouldn’t leave- the sound wouldn’t stop.

 

There was that din, then the door bell. Oh! How she hated that summoning blare! It kept on too-ringing. And then there was the banging on the door. Panic attack! She was stunned into that black space. No one could get her now. No one……

 

She didn’t know how long it had been there. She felt safe. And then the beeping, that she had never heard before pierced through her consciousness. It was as creepy as it could get. She had to hide again. She tried to get up, she couldn’t. Something was pulling her back. Scary, very chilling were the thoughts in her head. Eyes- she had to open them. She had to see, find a new place to hide. The beeps were now faster than before; as fast as her heartbeat.

 

And then she heard the shuffling! “What’s that?” She was back in her safe place again.

 

Shuffling although fearsome could lead to her silent place. Anna was safe again. And the peace continued, uninterrupted. Until that light shone, the beep returned. Still insecure and unsure she had somehow mustered enough courage to open her eyes.

 

Everything was white- the bed, the walls, the pillows, the bed-sheets, the floor. The only color was her blue. The beeping machine looked machine-like. On her left was a huge window. And on her right, some masked people were approaching her. Some wore white too.  The other two wore green overalls. They didn’t scare her. Not even with their white masks. She must be in heaven now. They must be those Angels God had sent to watch over her. A man removed his mask, smiled at her and said, “How do you feel, Anna?”

 

Anna replied, “Heaven is a safe place. Thanks for having me.”

 

Author: Kleio B’wti

'Incognito Inamorato' Short Story Author: Kleio B'wti ©www.wakenshine.com, 2017.

Incognito Inamorato

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Hardbound in red, with gold ink etching out the name 'Incognito Inamorato' winked wickedly at Lana.

 

The very cover of the stationery made her cringe! For years she had poured her heart out in it. She had once thought it to be her best friend; the one who knew everything about her one-sided love, her wishful thinking, her angst, her jealousy, her fears- every emotion that 'he' evoked in Lana. The Diary was her witness.

 

Lana reasoned how it was important to move on, to survive. It was crucial to surrender to hopelessness, for new hopes to sprout.

 

The only way she could make a fresh start was to let the diary go.

 

With a deep breath, tears rolling down her eyes, she walked down the stairs, into the living room; opened the door to the porch- resolutely walked further until she reached the picket fence at the gate where the black garbage bag lay abandoned.

 

She carelessly tossed the diary, never looking back. The Diary almost wilfully somersaulted from the edge of the garbage bag into the center of the pavement. A resolute Lana hadn't looked back, she wouldn't look out of the window where her beloved diary could be seen lying alone, sad.

 

Dave in the other part of the same neighborhood cursed under his breath as we walked through the pavement. He had had enough! After years of squabbling more than loving, he wondered if his childhood romance with Summer was a mistake. She had believed it was! She had given him an ultimatum today. He should either propose or stay away.

 

Dave loved Summer, yet a niggling thought was growing into a shout in his head, "It was puppy love. Don't commit!" Distraught emotionally exhausted romantically, Dave kicked the few dry leaves on the pavement and strode away quickly until a light object touched his toe.

 

The red Diary smiled invitingly at Dave, shimmering in the street lights. Dave was longing for a change in mood. He would rather read a stranger's secrets than prod on his own love life. So he sat down on the side, picked up the diary and turned the pages until morning came.

 

He then walked up to the porch and rang the bell. Lana groggily skipped down the stairs to see who it was. A look at Dave and all her sleep was replaced into stupendous elation!

 

She squeaked, "What are you doing here, Dave?"

 

Dave looked equally perplexed! He had never known that the shy and beautiful Lana, his classmate since middle school lived just a few blocks away! He cleared his throat in wonder and said,
"Hey Lana! I found your diary. You must have dropped it on the road by mistake. I didn't know you lived here!"

 

Lana replied accusingly, "How would you know Dave? You have been too busy for too long!"

 

"You write well, Lana! It’s funny that your boyfriend shares my name”, Dave mentioned with a chuckle.

 

Flabbergasted, Lana repeated in a rising voice, “Funny!”

 

Hey, Lana! No bad blood girl! I mean your guy is lucky, to have a perfect girl like you", Dave smilingly declared.  “I must confess, I always had a thing for your poems since Grade 6! Your Dave is a lucky dog!”

 

Lana with stabs of embarrassment, yet giddy with a resigned love, snatched the diary from Dave and shouted angrily as she slammed the door- "Me! Lucky! I have no boyfriend! It was always you, Dave- you fool!"

 

Author: Kleio B'wti

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'Rodent Repartee' Short Story Author: Kleio B'wti ©www.wakenshine.com, 2017.

Rodent Repartee

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Von, the squirrel always took the corner.

 

It was the best place to collect nuts as there were those shady trees whose branches leaned on the building- a welcome shade during the grueling day’s work. His sack was only full by one-fourth and winter was quickly approaching!

 

The squirrel’s giving heart overpowered his sense of worldliness. Often, the other squirrels tricked him to part with his loot with a sob story. The squirrel’s competitors thus hoarded more worked less, thanks to the squirrel at the corner. 

 

Things were calm and ordinary at the bend until a white mouse arrived. She had the most manicured nails, a shiny nose, and a springy tail. She had all the trimmings of ‘the lady in the manor’ yet strangely she was out to gather provisions for the winter. Initially, she took any place she’d find on the pavement.

 

Come the fourth day, she stepped hard on the squirrel’s foot. While he was hopping in pain, the mouse took his spot!  The mouse devised the cheapest tricks to seize Von’s position daily! No other squirrel came to help Von. Not once did they think to pay Von’s kindness with support. 

 

As winter approached, the other squirrels had enough to last them until the next spring. The mouse had sacks full of supplies. Von still had his sack unfilled. With the first flake of snow, the squirrels scuttled into their warm burrows.

 

Von had nowhere to go.

 

He had been so busy collecting scarcely available munchies that he had forgotten to get himself a place to stay during winter. Down-and-out, Von retired to his beloved place, the vacant corner. The Mouse too had vanished into thin air with her plunder as the snowflakes danced a pristine dream in white. 

 

All the frozen squirrel could do to keep warm was to get inside his sack and hide among the food he had collected. While he shivered, the chill was bearable inside. Days flitted into nights. Von remained in his quickly dwindling heap of rations. Then one night the icy winter wind sang its eeriest tune, the snowfall became a dense torture, leaving Von in uncontrollable shivers.

 

When he heard the tiny teeth gnawing, he thought it was his dental chatter. When he felt his sack move, he thought it was his remains’ tremble. But when the warmth of the fire, reached him through the crackling nuts in his provisions, he mustered his last bit of curiosity to peep through the holes in the sack. What he saw finally froze him in disbelief!

 

The white mouse, in the prettiest of all mouse dresses, peeped back through the holes and ordered, “Get out now! Your cheap thrills in the snow are a misadventure! You have to live coz I still have to steal your corner next spring.”

 

Von decided the best treatment for hallucination is to discount a response.

 

The mouse now squealed, “Get out you squirrel or else I will pour the warm broth I cooked for you into your sack and burn you!”

 

Von retorted with a snort, “Okay! Okay! No cheap thrills, at my expense- My Lady!”

 

Author: Kleio B'wti

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Someplace

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In the Golden, Land called ‘Someplace’ lived four friends among others. These four friends were unique, distinct, with a mind of their own. However, they still were the best of pals. ‘Someplace’ was a golden land of Kosen Rufu. Gradually there came a time when it became a trial. The four associates stopped communicating and went their separate ways.

 

Faith turned towards the North, to never look back.

Practice moved to the East, vouching it was forever.

Study moved to the West, with a determination to never return.

‘The Fourth’ friend, was lost. He stayed back in ‘Someplace’ all sad and depressed.

 

Years went by. As fate would have it, Faith returned and so did Practice and Study. Faith was now a halo- an aura in blue. Practice shone a shimmering red. Study, was a soothing green. The three erstwhile friends tried best to ignore each other. They, nonetheless, had to come together to meet ‘The Fourth’. They knew he would not meet them otherwise. So reluctantly, Faith, Study, and Practice arrived at the ‘The Fourth’s’ hut.

 

‘The Fourth’ was nowhere to be found! They searched for him taking turns as they could barely tolerate each other. Days went by, but ‘The Fourth’ had vanished into thin air! Now in a crisis, worried about their best friends, Practice, Study and Faith grudgingly decided to bury their hatchet and search for ‘The Fourth’ together. They went to the North to look for him, then to the East, West and the South. ‘The Fourth’ remained missing.

 

Not broken, not sad, the three friends realized that they still had hope when they were together. And this collective hope gave them knowledge, and then a direction….

 

They walked back to ‘Someplace’ and then climbed the highest mountain there, looking for their friend. They saw someone walking with the children of ‘Someplace’ in a green patch. This person looked like ‘The Fourth’. Faith, Study, and Practice jumped with joy and ran towards their long lost friend.

 

'The Fourth’ was ecstatic to find his friends unitedly, like earlier. The four friends held each others’ hands and did their customary dance. The friends' then asked ‘The Fourth’ where he had disappeared, revealing the efforts they had made to locate him but to no avail! A smiling ‘The Fourth’ who now radiated an aura as bright as a star, said that he was “right here”. Looking at the perplexed expression of the trio, ‘The Fourth’ said these lines to his buddies.

 

“My dears, when you all moved away, I was sad. I was lonely. Something in me was dying. ‘Someplace’ was dying along with me.

 

What could I do to save it all?

 

I thought I’d do everything by Faith, just like you, my friend. This approach benefitted me but no beauty came with it. I was at a loss! What next? Why this? Why not that?

 

Subsequently, I thought, I would do what you used to, Study. I gained immense knowledge but I could not share it with the citizens of ‘Someplace’, as I was learning for myself. I was only enhancing my own skills but ‘Someplace’ was deteriorating and I with it.
Then I started to go by your philosophy, Practice. Alas! I forgot all I had learned through learning. I barely remembered some. This eventually made me start losing faith.

 

‘Someplace’ in the meantime was no more a golden land. We had riots, diseases, famines; people were losing their morality, financial deficit and much more. I remembered how everyone was joyous and victorious around us when all the four of us were together. I pondered, ‘What if I walked in Faith, resolute in Practice, wise with Study?’

 

And that was my victory and that of ‘Someplace’.

 

I am ‘The Seeker’. If you look at me individually, you won’t see me anymore. If you all join hands and see me with one heart, you will find in me, your friend- ‘The Seeker’.

 

Since that day, the four friends always lived a combined existence, in harmony. They traveled around the globe. Wherever they went, they went jointly. They created value and brought peace and joy in every land, every heart, they touched.

 

Author: Kleio B'wti

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Yellow Slip

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For the first time in her life, she felt that a pack of stapler pins could be that heavy to lift as she tried to throw it in her drawer. She could feel her heart go heavy with those thoughts as she tried to quickly clear up her desk. She extended her arm to the fullest and swept the desk at one go and dropped everything into the middle drawer of her Sheesham wood desk.

Stunned at how dreadfully she had let him go- actually made him go! She rushed out of her corner desk leaving behind her favorite red stole on the chair, whispering in her concerned colleague's ear about some emergency for her pale face. The stairs of the two floored building looked like an infinite to her.

She smashed the door of her office building and ran through the pavement shouting for a taxi. Some angel from heaven stopped his taxi and she occupied it without losing a breath. She ordered and begged in a single tone to the man on the wheels to drive to the airport; her thoughts on the ruined collage of her life- a life without him.

The terminal T2 was just 5 kilometers away from her office and never took more than 20 minutes whenever she traveled in the past, but presently it looked like a travel to another continent across the seas. She could not imagine the look on his face after reading the letter she left on the kitchen table.

On a yellow slip, she had burst her heart out on. She had known him for years and today it felt like never ever. She always knew there was something which staggered his smile sometimes but he never expressed. He was always caring and loving, someone who would die for her smile. He was lazy but never failed to share his feelings, except one.

She still remembered the day her father, even against his dislike of him agreed to let her move in with him. He dressed clumsily in formals; didn’t shave for a month and was often high on alcohol. Still the charm he carried in those brown eyes and double-chinned face along with the ability to accept the failures of his life without a rebuttal, left no corner of insecurity in her dad's heart that he is true to himself if nothing else.

A sudden stoppage at the corner across the foot over bridge brought her back to her senses. She observed lane of cars bumped into each other, in alarm. She quickly grabbed her wallet, took a couple of tenners and threw them on the front seat next to the driver's, collected her stuff and thoughts and ran like a train towards the airport.

Her feet felt as if they were not with hers. She tried to run faster with those heels but couldn't overcome the resistance offered by her legs. How could she just write a letter asking the guy who cared for him the most to leave her and go to the girl she thought he wished to spend his life with? She was too broken and in love with him to give up her only desire and reason to live. She loved him too much to make him stay although she knew the feeling of pain it would invest in the heart to not have his love.

What could she have done? The question kept hitting her head. She has been stubborn and a demanding girl since childhood, one who never ever shared, forget about giving up! But today she let her most prized possession go, and he was the reason for that change in her.  The only thing she could do was to let him go, she tried to lessen her pain of guilt with this thought, but it would come back with more beat.

He made her laugh and took jokes on himself, they dined out often, he bought her flowers and chocolates, and they danced and held hands at events. He even kissed her at his mother's birthday. She loved sleeping in his lap with her cheeks in his hands and arms around his waist.

Although he earned little from his hateful job, he always found time to hear her office woes. And she returned the favor with a yellow slip endorsing him to return to his earlier love and a flight ticket- a complimentary gift. And she had done it all, without confirming what he wished for.

She was brought back in time by the security personnel at the entrance of the airport; with a pounding heart and vision blurred with uncontrolled tears. She believed this poison would kill her which she herself slipped in for no grant. She took long steps, by now her feet had given up, could barely stand but she refused to lose the battle.

A piece of paper could not be the reason for her soulless life. She’d fight, beg, cry or even contest but wouldn’t let him go. Standing next to the immigration counter dressed up as he wished to live for only this moment, she thought she saw him! A sound hit her ears confirming that the flight for Sydney has left with all passengers on boarding. With her misty eyes drying up, she had imagined someone but it was actually the image of another footfall in the crowd and not him!

Her heart stopped for a minute and her throat went dry. She then recollected the images in her head and walked out of the airport unsteadily. She bought some eggs, a milk pack and a loaf of bread and walked back on her way home. There were no thoughts fighting in her brain, the feelings were all fallen.  Her feet were blue out of defeat as she climbed the stairs of her apartment.

She opened the door- her fingers devoid of any blood flow. She locked the door from the inside with no intentions to ever unlock it again and dragged towards the kitchen sink. As she unfolded the paper bag and got hold of the matchstick to light the stove, she felt a pair of hands swirling around her waist, a pair of wet lips touched her neck. She turned around and looked into those brown eyes that freed her and fell into his arms for a sound sleep.

Author: Muflis Musafir

 

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Fishermen’s Bond

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"There are very few fishermen left today."
- Paul Watson

 

Once Upon A Time, there lived a young widowed fisherman- Zingloo and his young boy- Vindloo, by the sea.

 

The young father and son spent hours trying to catch fishes that mostly slipped through their almost tattered fishing net. Catching only a few, they sold them at the fish market for dearth cheap price, except one. Zingloo saved the biggest fish each day for his beloved son!

 

With little money, a lot of hard work and a daily one-time meal of fish stew, Vindloo grew up agile as a fish, strong as the sea waves and handsome as his father. As the years passed, the fishes became harder to come by. Then came a day when the fishes had gone extinct!

 

Zingloo, the forever optimist did not give up.

“Vindloo, my son, do not listen to the others. We make our own destiny. I believe there are some fishes still left. I will myself go into the sea and find them.”

 

Saying so, Zingloo dived deep into the sea. Vindloo's salty thoughts hung heavily in the pregnant atmosphere. Even the sea waited expectantly for Zingloo come back a winner! The seagulls flew around the boat in excited circles at seeing Zingloo’s left arm and then right one wading the waters to the boat! Vindloo, the young teenager, clapped his hands and jumped with joy to see his father’s form break through the waves!

 

Zingloo raised his head and asked his son to help him up the boat. The disappointment in his eyes pierced through the heart of Vindloo.

“Son, there are no fishes in the sea, no more!”

Tears rolled down Zingloo’s cheeks. He was only a fisherman. He knew nothing else. His mind scrambled in panic,

"What now?"

Vindloo reading his father’s thoughts, said to him,

“Dad, you remember what you said to me some hours ago? I will make my own destiny. I will find something for us in the sea.”

Saying so, Vindloo dived into the sea much like his father.

 

Vindloo was back in no time armed with clams, snails, prawns, corals and other aquatic beings that people had overlooked for years! Soon, while the fishermen left the coast to find other sources of employment, Zingloo and Vindloo built their small fishing business into an empire. Strangely, it was only Vindloo who was able to find the other aquatic beings. No other fisherman including Zingloo had been successful in catching even one! No one knew Vindloo’s secret yet, although they realized that Vindloo had been blessed by the sea for some reason.

 

On that very cloudy and cold morning, when Vindloo dived into the sea to find some fishes for his dejected father, his gaze was attracted by an ethereal beauty, with big ocean eyes, golden and green tresses that even a Goddess would envy! Vindloo, like an iron pin, swam into the magnetic persona of the mermaid.  The Mermaid asked Vindloo what he was looking for. When Vindloo shared his sad tale, the mermaid smiled kindly and told him,

 

“Here take these. They taste as good, sometimes even better than fishes. We farm them for our meals. Whenever you need some more come, see me, but remember not to tell anyone about me!”

 

Vindloo’s trip to the Mermaid became frequent as the demand for his aquatic items increased. The more they met the more they fell in love. Vindloo, on the 135th day of their meeting, proposed to the mermaid with a huge diamond ring he had secretly purchased from the best jeweler in town. The Mermaid gladly accepted. The sea and the aquatics swayed in happiness.

 

When the excitement had dimmed a wee bit, the Mermaid took Vindloo to their special corner and told him,

“Vindloo, the rules of the sea are very different from that of the land. If you marry me, you will never ever be able to go back to the land. I can’t ask you for such a big sacrifice. I have changed my mind!”

Vindloo found his heart torn but said,

“Lady Mermaid, I love you. I live where you do, already. So, I will remain here with you. My only condition is that my father should never be short of clams, prawns, snails and more. He has fished every day since he was a baby. This is all he knows apart from being a loving father.”

 

For one last time, Vindloo returned to the land to meet his father. That night the father and son partied, sang fishermen songs and talked. Sleep didn’t knock on their eyelids that night. Zingloo felt his life was about to change. He had no time to ponder on his premonition; he had only time to see his son smile. The next morning, before dawn, the duo walked to the seashore, removed the anchor, pushed their big boat into the sea and rode into the middle of the mist. Vindloo had promised the night before to teach his father the art of catching precious aquatics, their livelihood!

 

Like they had done when Vindloo was a baby, Zingloo held his son’s hand and jumped into the sea. This time, however, it was Vindloo who was guiding his father, teaching him a new craft! Zingloo was excited with the first catch! He swam up to the boat to deposit his catch while Vindloo followed. By the time he had climbed up the boat, Vindloo was nowhere to be seen! Zingloo searched, for hours but could not find his son. Defeated, he rowed his boat back to the mainland.

 

Vindloo soon became the Emperor of the sea with his foresight, his compassion, flexibility, and acumen. His kingdom spread to all the five oceans of the earth. As his children grew, he started missing his father more and more! Vindloo became pensive as the days went by. His wife, who loved him dearly, sensed his dilemma but could do much. Both she and Vindloo knew the rule of the water world. Vindloo walked up to his wife one day and asked her if she knew any news of his land. The Mermaid said,

“My Love, a lot has changed on earth now.

“I want to go, for once and see it for myself, dear Love”, said Vindloo.

“Let me see, what I can do about it, My Love”, said his wife.

 

The Mermaid went to the wisest soul of the water world and told him her husband’s wish. She wanted to know how he could go visit the land and come back to his kingdom and his family without any repercussions. The wizard gave the Mermaid a box and instructed her to give it to Emperor Vindloo with some words of caution. The Mermaid happily reached Vindloo and gave him the box. She said to him,

 

“My Love, the Great Wizard wants you to take this box along with you to the land. Do not open this box. Once you swim back to me with the box, I will then take you to the Great Wizard, who will help us understand why he asked you to carry the box with you.”

 

Vindloo returned. Everything looked different in his land of his birth! He could not find the hut he lived in anymore. Concrete roads, huge bungalows adorned the place instead. Thwarted, he walked up to some fishermen by the wharf. The Wharf! It looked completely different and broader than before, and stronger.

 

He asked them, “Do you know of a fisherman named Zingloo? Can you tell me where he lives?”

 

The fishermen stared at him in amazement and informed, “Zingloo, the fisherman died about 200 years ago. We can definitely tell you the way to his grave!"

 

Another one quipped in, "Zingloo contributed greatly to making our town, our community prosper. Zingloo died as an Emperor of ZinVin. He renamed the town in the memory of his beloved son who had drowned while they had gone fishing at the sea.”

 

Vindloo was still a young man, yet the fishermen said that his father had died two centuries ago! How could this be? This was staggering! He had not been there to say goodbye to his beloved father, nor to take care of his last rites. Vindloo walked up to Zingloo’s grave and arranged all the aquatic gifts and pictures of his immediate family on his father’s. On his epitaph was written “Zingloo- the proud father of Vindloo.” Two centuries of tears flooded the cemetery yet Vindloo was completely parched.

 

Getting up from his father’s grave, Vindloo opened the box his treasured wife had given him. Unaware that the box contained the elixir of youth. Vindloo aged drastically within seconds and was reduced to a skeleton and then to ashes. A sweet aquatic breeze carried his ashes and covered Zingloo’s grave. The Emperor of the Sea and The Emperor of the Land, who had separated hundreds of years ago- the father and son were together again.

 

Author: Kundan Bhagwati

 

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Secrets Best Kept

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It was Maggie’s birthday and she has been a road runner all day, flashing her new car keys with style, a birthday gift from her single mother, Saayra. Maggie waited for this day for ages; the day she would get her hands on the wheels of her own ride. Her mother had promised earlier in the year that she would surprise her baby on the birthday she turns 19. Maggie lived in a wonderland; she had stuff since childhood kids couldn't dream of. Her mother raised her with too much love and pamper. She wouldn’t wish for things rather simply demand them and they would be there in her room the following day.

Saayra worked as the Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations at People Opinions Media Publications, a big daddy company in journalism. She had all the resources and finances to lure anyone to keep the smile on her only daughter’s face.  She has been a doting mother and was often criticized for the same reason, but the nature she possessed was induced in her genes since birth, she herself was a fairy for her dad who was a strict Army General had mellowed for her... She had ruled hearts in her days when she never took no for any reason. So she just continued the family trait and went miles to cover girl's the wish drops.

Although Maggie loved her mother Saayra, couldn’t stand her mother’s everlasting ally, Rehan. He had been around even for no reason. He was a dark shady guy touching forties, just like her mom.

 

He always ambled casually, dangling a leather bag on the left shoulder and a deep cut glistened on his forehead. He was definitely a lip smacking guy who carried a mix of a little attitude and little character. Maggie couldn’t stand the un-heady mix and would not even share a coffee on the table while he was around. Her mother’s fondness and bend towards Rehan often created thoughts in her mind about the relationship they shared.

She wasn’t an orthodox school kid, so would have interfered or disapproved of a status her mother would like to give to that relationship. Yet she unwilling to share her mom with Rehan.  Everyone knew the bond shared by Saayra and Rehan but no one ever inquired or challenged them. They sustained it for long and whatever doubts or presumptions people made were all gone during their years of being together. Rehan was a full blown supporter of Saayra and had been a pillar of support throughout her life. People doubted his intentions including Maggie but could never found a blind spot to attack Rehan.

 

It was evening and they were all prepped to leave for the celebration dinner. Maggie heard some murmuring while crossing the study to find her mother and Rehan discussing something. She peeped in through the side curtain and saw Saayra leaning with teary eyes on Rehan’s shoulder while he tried to sooth her, running his hand on her head and downwards. Maggie had never seen her mother so weak. She knew that her mother hid her pain and troubles from her but she had never seen her broken down like this.

 

She often thought if she was a fruit of Saayra’s and Rehan’s party play days. These feelings often killed her extrovert nature and turned her into an impulsive and irritating maniac. Though she lived the best of life with all the pleasures and pleasantries, the thought of her identity and creation made them artificial supports. She tried to be sly but would often forego any discussion regarding her conception by looking into her doting Mother’s eyes, full of love and care.

 

She couldn’t take it anymore, it was hard to crush the feeling in her heart, she felt it was her right to know the truth. It wasn't fair that her entire existence was a mystery. She banged into the library and spoke her heart out to the shocked faces of Saayra and Rehan. Saayra had never expected such words and tone from Maggie and she herself couldn’t believe she possessed them. Her angry words were to know her father and revelation of the relationship that Saayra and Rehan maintained.

Maggie demanded to know all -- the dark secrets and stories she was kept aloof from, the reason she was fatherless child and name she carried. Her mother broke down and fell on the wooden seat as Rehan tried to give her support. Rehan looked into Maggie’s eyes, turned to get hold of his bag and grabbed what looked like a newspaper and handed over to Maggie. She turned to the first page of a twenty-year-old newspaper cutting with a side corner headline --

 

‘Girl gang raped in an SUV, friend beaten to bloodshed’.

Author: Muflis Musafir

 

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Love Story

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It's a Love Story...

Sunaina just got off the call with Arpit, discussing last minute stuff of her engagement with Sameer that was still midway. Time does not define the intensity of friendship between two people, at least among them. She met him at Saira’s wedding, her childhood friend, last year which wasn’t a Kodak moment of capture; the first hold off for her with Arpit. She thought him as the groom and the chaos and pools of laughter it created henceforth were the highlights of that wedding. He went with the flow to add some drama but eventually came to her rescue when she drowned twice her hair length in embarrassment.  Since then they have developed an amicable relationship which included 10-hour telephonic conversation a week, a couple of hundred messages and a few video chats.

Sunaina worked as a Junior Associate at Mehra and Sons Advocates, a midsize law firm in Bangalore suburbs. Sunaina was a quiet and introvert in a group as long as she wasn’t a couple of wine glasses heavy. She was also badass enough to scatter a few here and there with her words and raised eyebrows in the courtroom.  She scared a Judge once with her trademark eye-raising style; all he did was responded to a mobile call during the court trial.

She was altogether a different person in her formal attire, one who is not a  mirror reflection by any angle. This characteristic of Sunaina made Sameer swipe the floor with his knees and ask her to marry him. Sameer didn’t only love her for her juvenile nature but a lot more for the personality she grew into once in the courtroom.

She banged her right fist on the table, looking into the eye of the police officer and would say "Spill out the truth about fake FIR lodged”, (against the client) or “I’ll not only prove it but also open the book of your entire life deeds.” Looking at the convict and gave him the feeling that if he'd lie his soul would come out and reveal the truth out of fear. The magical moment when the officer gave up efforts to stand against her, was when Sameer knew she is the one he would like to grow capsicum in his backyard and eat lettuce every morning, from whatever was left. He held high regards for the profession and the way Sunaina embraced it and grew in it, made him respect her.

Sunaina, on the other hand, was never into a relationship, apart from once when she was in Graduation College. She fell for a guy who was eight years older to her, (at least that what she believed then). The guy worked at a local newspaper as a political editor. They even met her parents to get their blessings for marriage. That was some day! Her mother almost lost her senses; her father's blood pressure rose beyond approved levels and her elder sister fell off the floor in laughter holding her stomach in laughter pain. She used that topic for two straight years for amusement and even rumored it with spice among all their cousins. But this time when Sameer asked she and was blown away. He held high standards and repute among the line of co-goers. She couldn’t have found a better one and felt

Arpit also supported her in the decision and reviewing the case in his court of judgment favored for her corner. Though he was shocked on initially, he eventually couldn’t find anything against Sameer who led her to the ocean of lovers and blossoms. The jury (friends and family) also got hit at first, the way Arpti and Sunaina spent time in conversations. They always believed that it had gone beyond the cooking stage and they were actually piping. Her boss would tease her at social gatherings and off-site meets, but she could never make them believe that there was nothing beyond calls, messages, holidays and overloaded discussions.

Sunaina and Sameer got engaged at city’s most lavish fine-to-dine. It was a magical night with flowers, wine, music, and dance. Happy faces, roars of laughter, neon light flashings, and fathers drinking for the first time in life - the day couldn’t have gone better.

Arpit came to her room and she was already up. She hugged him with a smile turned towards the mirror, admiring her looks and recalling the last night. She had weird thoughts and feelings, into a space of uncertainty. She could feel her heart go heavy but rebutted with a thought that maybe it's normal. Arpit looked into her eyes and felt the reason of her pale chin; he held her hand and told her not to worry. But she couldn’t get it off her head; she could feel something in her spine going down and all of a sudden her feet went cold.

She hugged him again and could find peace transmitted into her body through his arms around her waist. She felt like sleeping and transferred her body weight onto him. She tightened her armband around his neck, bowed on his right shoulder and leaned towards his ear and with closed eyes and dry lips she whispered:

If it’s not you who wakes me up, let me sleep.”

 

Author: Muflis Musafir

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