Friday, September 30, 2005

A quick tale 82

Earlier this evening

Right now only one person is alive. In flashback however, both of us started crossing the busy road.

Written for the Caferati Weekly Flash Fiction Competition. Theme for week 4 - flashback

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A quick tale 81

Footwear blues

Do you remember that day when you walked out of the temple and found your slippers missing from where you had left them? At first, it was a feeling of utter incomprehension. Then came denial. No, it couldn't have happened. Not to me. But who would want to take my worn-at-soles slippers, you wondered. And gradually, you realised that they were gone for good. Your favourite pair was now bearing the weight of a different owner. You felt angry. Not just at the person who stole it. But at your slippers. How could they just leave me? I should never have spent good money getting them repaired. Wretched ungratefuls! Finally, you accepted it. And started looking for a pair that fit you from among the dozens left outside the temple.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A quick tale 80

Death of a friend

You've just found out that your classmate from school was one of those killed in the attack on World trade Centre some years ago. You rack your brains to remember every detail about her. She was dark, thin, of average height. Did she wear glasses? Probably. You do recall her voice. Nasal. Nothing singularly remarkable to deserve such a high-profile death, you think. But the next time September 11th events are mentioned, you say 'I used to know someone who died in the attacks. We were such good friends'.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A quick tale 79

A certain woman makes up her mind

She is sitting at her table, this middle-aged woman who has decided to set right her life on a Thursday evening. She is making a list of people she has had to please in the past year. 293 people on the list. Including the man from that call centre who called so many times that she simply had to buy broadband connection from him. And that disabled man who sat at the entrance to the supermarket with sad eyes and a collection box. And her colleague who had offered carrot cake last week. One which she said she loved although she finds the idea of carrot in a cake revolting. And that librarian who recommended a truly awful book to read on her holiday.

Starting this very minute, she resolves, she would no longer do anything to please anyone. No matter what they thought of her. No more Thai food for friends’ sake. Or staying back late to help colleagues with their projects. And no way could she be persuaded to renew her gym membership again. This is a new me, she thinks. The phone rings. It’s her landlady calling to say that she is forced to raise the rent because she’s strapped for cash. She finds herself agreeing and understanding and saying an awful lot of ‘ofcourses’.

But from tomorrow...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A quick tale 78

Serves her right

They raised their eyebrows in shock and clicked their tongues in sympathy when a terrible mishap befell her. Secretly though, they rubbed their hands in glee. She really had no right to be so beautiful, successful, rich. Or young.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A quick tale 77


They spotted it one morning. Lying on its back with feet up in the air. As if riding a bicycle upside down.

'Is it sleeping, ma?'
'I don't think so'

She did not know if her son understood what death meant. She did not wish to lie to him. Nor did she want to tell him about god, heaven, hell and after life because she was not sure where she stood on such issues.

'I think the bird is dead'

The little boy nodded as if he knew.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A quick tale 76

On dumping her

'You're too good for me', he said.
One look at his pathetic face and she agreed.

A quick tale 75

A man who mispronounced

He was 44, a director in a big company and someone who played golf on Saturday mornings. He also mispronounced the word 'embarrass'. He would say 'embrace' instead. When he was younger, whenever he said 'God, that is so embracing', people laughed it off. They thought he was being funny. Like when people deliberately mispronounce words such as 'foreign' or 'America' because they get the laughs.

As he grew older, he continued saying 'embrace' and was never corrected. By now he was in a senior position and heading million-dollar projects. Now, unless you want to lose your job, you don't go around telling your director how to pronounce. So if you ever heard a middle-aged man saying that he was so embraced, please laugh it off. But do tell him if his fly zip is open.

A quick tale 74

The reason she was crying

A young woman was crying all the way from Churchgate to Borivili. Which, if you don’t know Mumbai, is quite some distance. Now most people who saw her, saw a pretty, young, affluent woman and assumed that the reason she was crying was ‘man’ problem. She must have had a fight with her boyfriend. Or she must’ve been dumped, they guessed. When really, if you had asked her why she was crying, she would’ve told you that her dog been run over in quick tale 71. And that she was feeling incredibly guilty. Because while her dog lay dead all she could think about was how gorgeous the guy who had run her over was.

A quick tale 73


A girl whose name is the same as your sister’s used to be a fan of the Hindi film actress Kajol. She used to watch every movie that featured Kajol at least three times. She knew the usual fine details about her idol. Like when she was born and what her favourite colour is and whom she would like to be born again as. And when Kajol married an actor, that lanky Hindi actor whose name escapes me, the young fan was quite upset. Because she believed they were ill-matched. And the day she read that Kajol had decided to cut down on her movie assignments to concentrate on raising a family, she was devastated. She went for a long walk to let the information sink in and skipped dinner that evening. Later that night she pulled down posters of Kajol from her bedroom wall and put up Sachin Tendulkar’s instead.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Not a story at all

Two sisters - Lovely and Jubbly came by this way. But when they found that people in these stories had no names, they went back.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A quick tale 72


It was a bit like writing the old year in the date column in the first few days of the new year. Or still calling him your boyfriend months after you married him. Or brushing the non-existent hair off your shoulder the day after you chopped it. Or blowing into your mug of coffee to cool it long after it has turned lukewarm. She still referred to him in the present tense. And included him when she made dinner for four.

A quick tale 71

Death of a dog and other issues

You have just run over a dog. You could have sped on. But you are a decent person and so you stop and get out of the car. As you walk towards the bloody mess you wish you hadn’t. She’s a young woman of about 25 and there’s a look of utter incomprehension on her face. She’s staring at the recently squashed remains of her pet as if to make sure that what she is seeing is real. This will soon turn to anger and it will be directed towards you. ‘I’m sorry’, you say. She nods silently. You stand around the dead dog awkwardly not knowing what to do next.
‘I was taking her to the vet. She had an infection and has not eaten in two days’
‘I’m sorry’, you repeat, ‘Is there anything I can do?’
The woman, now crying freely in front of a stranger, shakes her head as if to say no.
You feel terrible. Even though it was not your fault. You feel wretched because you had two glasses of wine at lunch. You were confident nothing would happen. And now a dog lies with its innards exposed.
You want to hug her and tell her how truly sorry you are. And that you would never ever drink and drive again. But you find yourself asking if her dog was insured.

A quick tale 70

Sometime soon

A man who has your name is walking down the parking lot towards his car. He even looks like you and shares your taste in music and women. But he drives a burgundy Ford fiesta which I know is different from what’s sitting in your garage. As he gets into his car your namesake is thinking about his unborn child, tax returns which are due to be filed and England winning the Ashes. What he does not know is that he has just won a hundred dollars in a raffle drawn in a country several seas away. He will find out later that day and let out a whoop which will bring his 7-months pregnant wife from the kitchen to enquire. But for now he is waiting in the queue for the cars in front of him to move and drumming his fingers on the wheel.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Two to tango

The wonderful Ideamani has come up with a fantastic fundraising idea. Over to him for the details.
Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for "Two to Tango"- A ProjectWhy Fundraiser! You will be given a ticket for every $2 (Rs.90) you pay and you enter into a raffle.The winner will win a prize of a 100 (or Rs.4,500) dollar gift certificate.SO come join us in this wonderful event! Win for a good cause!
Register and with as little as $2 from your pocket, you make a difference in someone's life! Your registration in this raffle will buy a complete meal for a child for a week in India! I urge you all to help me in this conquest of ours and donate generously to this cause, this IS the time when you can make a difference! All the registration fees can be sent here: Kindly mention your full names and email ids in the additional notes section when you complete transaction in paypal. You will then receive your random lucky draw number via email. Additional donations can also be directed to the same paypal account.Please help us help those less fortunate.
Please encourage your friends to participate and I would really appreciate if you could mention it in your blog. Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A quick tale 69

When you had guests over for dinner

It is a familiar dance. You will offer some more. They will say they have had enough. No, no, you will insist, do have some more. Oh, but I’m stuffed already, they will plead. Why? Was it not to your liking? you will query faking anxiety. It was delicious really, they will answer to appease. But you ate so little, you will say in mock anger. I had three helpings, they will cry. Then another spoonful at least, you will add. And they will oblige.

Except last night. When they said no the first time. You didn’t ply them with more food. And they went home a little hungry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A personal request

My friend Anouradha Bakshi writes...

Project Why is in the s**** house as we really have no funds beyond this month.

The above explains why.. and more whys.The thing is that till date we have been working on oxygen that yours truly keep bringing, now we need lungs, and the major one is the one rupee.

My friend Sophie, a volunteer and lovely lady, said it would need 4 people to get 3 and 3 only 6 times. Now I hate chain letters and pyramid marketing but can you think of a way to put this across.

Let me confess something, I am not a great believer and yet I believe and the last few days I have been seeking help from the invisible forces.. now maybe you are just one of them!

The thing is that if I do not get the act together, many will lose their hope in life. Now, we normally pour scorn on chain letters too, and have physically removed a pyramid marketer from the premises once upon a when. But we do believe in invisible forces.


Please visit Projectwhy to find out how you can donate. Surely we can spare one rupee a day. Thank you.

A quick tale 68

Last Tuesday around the same time as a quick tale 67

You look at your watch and it's midday already. You don't want to be late for the meeting with your consultant. You park the car and walk briskly towards the office when you see her. She tries to hide but not quickly enough.

How can you forget the face from your school years? She was your closest rival. The one who lost to you every time. The one who was always at your heels, breathing down your neck. Egging you to do better.

You walk over to say hello. She enquires about your life. You say something innocuous about marriage and kids and putting a hold on career. You leave out the flourishing real estate business and the gorgeous children and the incredible husband and the disastrous first marriage.

And what about her, you ask. She talks excitedly about her job, busy life and her lack of time for relationships. She sounds happy. You exchange telephone numbers and promise to stay in touch.

You turn around and wave to her as she enters a posh restaurant. You remember a cheque you have to drop off at a charity shop. You can still make it in time for the meeting, you hope.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A quick tale 67

One lunch time last week

It’s Tuesday and you step out for a bite during lunch hour. You see her first. You recognise the face as one from your school years. Your rival. The one you lost to each time. In maths exams. In spelling competitions. In lemon-and-spoon races. Yes, the ONE.

You think of hiding but it's too late. She spots you and comes over to greet. So how have you been, you enquire. Oh the usual, she answers, marriage, babies, career-on-hold, things like that. Huge mortgage, crippling debt and a philandering husband, you add mentally.

And what have you been up to, she asks. Great job, fantastic prospects, frequent trips abroad, hectic partying, no time to settle down, you reply. Making it all sound unnecessarily glamorous.

Then you pull out your fancy mobile and note down her number. You promise to stay in touch and head for the restaurant. She turns around, waves and steps into a charity shop. I'll treat myself to a glass of wine today, you tell yourself.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A quick tale 66


She was sorry his coffee was not hot enough. She regretted that their food was so cold. She apologised for the weather not being good. Wasn’t she sad that their car had broken down. Surely it was her fault that their son had not passed the exam. How terrible she felt that the bank had not approved their loan. She took responsibility for the trains being late. And the baby being born early. And the government bans and the traffic jams. It was all down to her. It’s my mistake, it’s my mistake, it’s all my mistake, she admitted. When really, she couldn’t give a damn. A rat’s ass. Or a row of pins.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A quick tale 65

Sometime during the 4th round

‘What is the capital of Burundi?’ boomed the quizmaster.

Who cares? he thought. No, strike that. Who the bleeding fuck cares? What purpose does the capital of Burundi serve apart from making occasional appearances in corporate quizzes like this one? Have you ever met anyone that has been to Burundi? Or visited its questionable capital city? Who comes up with these questions? What is the point of this quiz? Why are we here? What is the reason for life?

He had a sudden, overwhelming urge to pull his pants down, haul his shirt over his head and run around the stage deranged shouting ‘Burundi! Burundi!’

‘Bujumbura’, answered team C.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A quick tale 64

One hot afternoon

You are sitting in a café alone. All by yourself. Feeling terribly sorry. That you have to pour your own tea, stir milk into it. With no one to offer sugar and for you to say ‘no sugar. Thank you’. You are sipping the hot brew when the waiter catches your eye. So you make a bet with yourself. If he walks over to your table and asks ‘anything else, sir?’ you will get a girl in the next six months. But if he does not, you are condemned to a life of solitude. He ambles along, stopping to smoothen a tablecloth. Then he clears a recently vacated table. Come over and ask me, you mentally beckon him. Mustering all the psychic powers inside you. He does not seem to get the message and starts to walk back to the kitchen. You start to panic. May be you are going to be condemned to a life of bachelorhood. No girlfriend, no wife and certainly no counselling to save your 8-year marriage. You are going to be drinking tea on your own with no one to offer sugar. ‘Garçon!’ you call out.