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Ani

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self-melting away.”

I remember flipping through countless pages of text books through my schooling, but scarcely what I read in them. The Mahatma’s talisman printed of the first page of every text book though remained etched in my subconscious.  I have had great reverence for the Mahatma. Unifying a population of one billion odd countrymen divided by cast, creed, religion, dialect to fight for a common cause, I felt was an extraordinary feat. He did this in a day and age when the means of communication were at its infancy if not primitive by current standards. He didn’t have any of the social media at his disposal and neither was traditional media so prevalent in the pre independent India. However those words in the talisman I felt were a bit utopian.

Scarcely could I have imagined that they would come to my rescue when under the severest trials. My life had traversed an average curve. A mediocre academic record at school, I went on to finish my graduation and got into a job/career which I neither liked nor despised, but one which allowed me to lead a comfortable life. I moved out of my family nest a couple of months into my job so as to be able to spread my wings. My parents weren’t happy with the decision of their only child. Soon I was living the ‘life’. Just managing the bare minimum at work and partying hard afterwards. My visits back home became scarcer as days flew by. Rare occasions of my visit, evoked a sense of bewilderment.

Life took a sudden turn when the monsoon set it. A frantic call from my cousin broke the news of my father passing away. I was stunned not knowing what to make of it. My father had planned well for the family. We weren’t in any financial strain. I had to give up my bachelor pad and move back home. Up until this time I had lived a care free life. Suddenly I felt a dread of not being able to take care of my mother, in spite of nothing evidently suggesting that financial we wouldn’t be able to make it. Responsibility I realized was more of a physiological thing. My weekend life ebbed away and so did my fair weather friends. Sharing booze and drags evidently meant something only if one marked constant attendance at the weekend gatherings. Moving out of my parents’ house and the subsequent passing away of my father hit me hard. Though unrelated, the feeling of guilt lingered on. My mother was inconsolable and I seemed to be of little help in assuaging her heart.

A few months on the monsoons set in with full force. With clock work like precision the rains always seemed to time with my travel to and from office. My personal situation mattered little to the organization; they weren’t in the mood to put up with my sloth. I was given an ultimatum to buckle up or get out. Subsequently I started putting in long hours to meet my deadlines but the pile of work never reduced.

I still remember that day, etched as it will be in my conscious forever. I had missed my quarter closing deadline. My boss was furious, he yelled with all his might, just stopping short of choking me to death. He threw me out of his cabin asking me to be ready with my bags packed. As I headed back home the sky tore open, it poured the heaviest that I had ever seen. The roads got clogged and the traffic came to a standstill. Traversing every inch of my way back home increased my resentment with life. I had to trudge the last mile home with a flat back tyre. Life seemed meaningless and hollow. Instead of getting down on the 3rd floor and reaching my home, I took the lift to the top floor and climbed the final flight of stairs to the terrace. I pushed open the terrace door and walked towards the edge of the terrace wall. It was the first time I had ever come to the top. As I stood there contemplating on a jump that could possibly end my misery, I was transfixed by what I saw. The road which I had just trudged through was clogged with heavy traffic, it was still pouring hard. But it all seemed beautiful from the top. As the signal lights changed to green, the vehicles scrammed across the road, the headlights, indicators and the stop signal coupled together formed a dazzling array, dimming at the frag end of horizon as my eyes followed them. The honking no longer irritated my ears, the distance softened the decibels. Weaving itself into the pitter patter of the rain drops they now created a symphony. Tears rolled down my cheeks; mixing with the rain drops they dissolved all the anguish, resentment and hollowness from my heart. As I looked down I saw Ani draped in big polythene sheet cut out from a garbage disposal bag prancing around in the rain. It reminded me of Gandhiji’s talisman and I knew that jumping off would mean a waste of my life. I resolved at that moment that I would face life as it came and help Ani to the best of my abilities.

Anirudh Venkatachala Reddy was a feisty young boy. His parents were construction workers. Their dwelling place was the construction site. Their home consisted of make shift shelter built out of stacking bricks and tin sheet to be used for future construction. As the buildings they helped construct neared completion their bricks got used. As the buildings got done their house got torn down and it was time for them to move on. Our building was almost nearing completion and hence Ani’s house had shrink from the 8 by 8 feet to a 6 by 4 dwelling. Yet Ani remained happy, unperturbed by the changes in his circumstances. Ani came across as a confident boy. The resident community knew Ani very well since he always made an effort to interact with them while they went on their walks, or passed by on their way to or from work.  His parents didn’t send him to school yet he had on his own picked up words of the English language. With a big grin on his face, good heartedly he would shout to the residents “How are you doing?” When some of them replied back in English, Ani would enquire what the sentence and words meant. So on and so forth the boy worked tirelessly to gain a grasp of the language. He also was inquisitive about the world at large. He asked the residents where they worked, what they did at their work, what it meant etc. For a kid with no access to formal education Ani was quite knowledgeable.

That night I worked tirelessly from home and finished my closing reports and mailed it to my boss. I wasn’t sure if I would be left with a job the next day but I slept soundly. To my surprise I didn’t get kicked out of my job the next day. My boss was impressed with the report that I had sent out and decided to give me another chance with a stern “One more mistake and you will be on your back” threat. I made friends with Ani and persuaded his parents to send him to a nearby school run by an NGO and assured them of all financial support for his education. I spent my after office hours and early morning teaching Ani math, science and English. Ani waited every evening at my apartment gate for me to step in and start the class. I brought him some savory dishes like samosas and pakodas, dishes that most privileged children take as their birth right. But Ani wouldn’t take a bite out of it until I had finished his class. He never asked me to stop the classes, never got bogged down if he got a math problem wrong, never showed any resentment as I repeatedly reproofed his grammar and pronunciation. His eyes shone with the hunger for knowledge even though he had sparse food to satisfy the hunger of his belly.

Six months later one day when I stepped back home from work. My mother handed me a ragged looking necklace and piece of paper. “Ani’s parents moved out today. He pleaded with them to stay till he could meet you in the evening. But they had to catch the train in the afternoon. He left me this necklace and a letter” she said

“I thank you for all that you have done for me. I am sorry I couldn’t stay. I have noted down your house address. I will write you a letter soon” – Ani

It was a terse two liner but it left me with a mix of emotions. I was glad he was able to write it on his own but saddened that we couldn’t say our goodbyes personally.

I waited for his letter but it never came. I don’t know what happened to Ani. But whenever I was confronted with a challenge in life I recalled his shining eyes and I got the strength to move ahead.

 

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Felt like heaven

This is an entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

I submitted my last week story yesterday and am submitting this week’s story today ! (well it’s not a story actually). Hope to read a lot more stories this week 🙂

Constructive suggestion/feedback are welcome !

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My story follows the photo prompt below

Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

It felt like heaven

 It felt like heaven when mom hugged me and said it would be okay

when I finally managed to ride the bicycle on my own

when I scored a six of the last ball to win the championship for my team

when I got down on my knees and she said yes

when I saw her face at the airport after a long voyage

when I held my little princess in my arms

when I saw my little princess take her first steps

It felt like heaven when I had loved ones by my side to share the joy and misery of life

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To see what the other Fictioneer’s are upto click on the toad below

The Journey

This is an entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Well I am late with my entry for last week ! I couldn’t read any of the stories, will try and make amends in the coming week.

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My story follows the photo prompt below

Copyright –Anelephantcant

The Journey

Mother refused to sell off the rustic bicycle. She would smile and reminiscence about the bygone.

Doggedly she had bicycled for kilometers through the village to reach school everyday. It stood as a picture of the many romantic rides with her father. She would sit on the cross bar while he would ride the bicycle, his hands protectively wrapped around her.

After his passing, Ma said it gave her the strength to carry on the journey alone. But her young daughter couldn’t understand the sentiment.

Once her mother passed away she understood the bicycle. Of the strength it gave her to carry on with the journey alone.

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The Haunted Mansion

This is an entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Open to all , ready to rack the right side of the brains!.

The objective is to write a 100 (word limit is not rigid) word story based on a photo prompt.

My story follows the photo prompt below

Copyright –Kent Bonham

Genre: Fiction

The Haunted Mansion

 He inherited the mansion, its surrounding estates and riches. Yet had none to assuage his lonely heart.

The thought of jumping off the mansion occurred to him quite often. Many a time he climbed to its roof but vertigo got the better of his intention as he neared the ledge.

A split second before he drifted away, he saw the tall mansion rise before him and smiled at having tricked his nemesis. As simple as falling in bed on one’s back.

Aila screamed “Master has fallen down call the ambulance”

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** I am not sure if the story comes out clearly so adding a bit of an explanation 🙂
Nemesis here refers to his vertigo problem. He avoids it by jumping off the ledge backwards i.e. like falling into bed on one’s back, so as to avoid looking down from the top of the mansion and trigger a vertigo incident. Bit of a stretch on the imagination possibly?

To submit your entry or check other Friday Fictioneers’ stories click the blue toad below



Revelation

This is an entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Open to all , ready to rack the right side of the brains!.

The objective is to write a 100 (word limit is not rigid) word story based on a photo prompt.

Copyright-Claire Fuller

Revelation

Staring at his laptop screen he wondered, if it was worth attempting his own novel? Names known and unknown, belonging to varied genres filled his bookshelf on the opposite side of the room. Intimidated by the prospect of matching the sheer brilliance of successful authors, waves of questions arose in his mind. Whom shall he write like? Was he good enough? Increasingly he felt restless, each passing fraction of a second seemed like eternity. He took a deep breath, in that instant it dawned on him. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”*

 

*“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

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Committee Report

This is an entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Open to all , ready to rack the right side of the brains!.

The objective is to write a 100 (word limit is not rigid) word story based on a photo prompt.

I have exceeded the word limit for this story by a bit. Your comments/suggestions/critiques are welcome ! 🙂

copyright-Janet Webb

Genre: Part Fiction, Part Reality !

To,

The Honorable President
Global Wasp Community

             The department inquiry into yesterday’s incident revealed that a boy without provocation, attacked the nest by pelting stones. To protect the nest, flying officer Shelder  stung the boy lightly. Later in retaliation, a human fumed the colony, leading to its annihilation.

               Other wasp colonies have reported explosions triggered by humans to injure and kill fellow human beings. Even the wild beast in the animal kingdom doesn’t attack unless provoked, much less kill its own kind. This has led the Department to conclude that “Humans are savages”. Any attempt to establish and improve bilateral ties with them, shall, in the view of the department be a futile exercise.

Yours Faithfully,
Head of Dept. For Human Behavior Study
Wasp Centre

To submit your entry or check out other Fictioneers’ Story click on the blue toad icon below !



Friday Fictioneer – Treasure Hunt

This is another entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Open to all , ready to rack the right side of the brains!.

The objective is to write a 100 word story based on a photo prompt.

From Scott Vanatter with permission-Copyright- Indira

Genre: Fiction

Treasure Hunt

Alright everybody open the clue. Whoever cracks it first takes home the prize !” said Anita

             ‘The treasure awaits in a casket, with a stout stranger, partially bald, a

               loner, brown in colour. He is in love with Aphrodite and tries reaching

                 out to her in heaven.’

Ram saw the tree and was off in a flash. He found a neatly wrapped box under the tree.

His eyes lit up with anticipation as he opened the box only to find a note – ‘April Fool !’

I’m gonna kill you Anita” screamed Ram and dashed towards her.

Read the story of other Friday Fictioneers’ here

Friday Fictioneer – Hope & Faith

This is another entry for the  Friday Fictioneer‘s hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Open to all , ready to rack the right side of the brains!.

The objective is to write a 100 word story based on a photo prompt.

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 103 (oops! 2 times in a row)

Hope & Faith

In the muggle world..

….. Haggers’ managed to shoot down the burglars, but lost their lives. The night of the crime, witnessed a heavy thunderstorm…. Kelly Ronnel reporting live….”

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At the ministry of magic, the Minister addressed his assembly.

Nature deprived humans of magic, but made up by endowing them with hope and faith. Wizards were entrusted to protect nature’s source of hope and faith, the two lamps. The thunderstorm was a dark magic spell, that prevented any assistance from the ministry, to the Aurors. Fortunately the lamps, remain in the realm of the earth. Without it humanity would have lost the will to live.”

To read stories from other Friday Fictoneer’s – click here

Friday Fictoneer – The Passage

This is my first entry for Friday Fictioneer. The objective to write a 100 word story based on a photo prompt. I was a bit confused as to which was the latest photo prompt. I hope the below photo prompt is the latest. So here goes ! Comments/Suggestions/Criticism are welcome !

Copyright – Lora Mitchell

Genre – Fiction

Word Count – 100

The Passage

Lily woke up startled, her heart palpitating, by the thud on her front door.

She tried reaching the glass of water by her bedside but at her age even a minuscule task assumed a herculean proportion.

As she lay in bed trying to calm her weary heart, she looked over the window sill.

The head lamps and tail lights of moving vehicles created the illusion of a flowing river.

As her eyes stretched over the far end of the horizon, the glow of the light dimmed, her heart stilled and she felt being drawn into a tunnel of deep stupor.

 

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Diary Entry

14th Feb,

Dear Diary,

Its been a while since I confided in you and today I decided to redeem myself. In life’s myriad experiences there are some so scary, heart breaking, that even a casual remembrance is enough to shake the foundation of one’s existence and thus one decides to take such things; to one’s grave. The burden of such a decision tends to weigh heavy on one’s heart and mind leading to a turbulent existence. Such has been the fate in my lot for the past months or so and yet there I was hoping for a silver lining. Today the veil has come down and I clearly see my folly. Not that I didn’t realize it from the beginning, just that I chose to ignore it. A young girl can’t be blamed for dreaming a bit, can she ?

Green you know is my favorite color. Red may symbolize love universally, but for me its a grim reminder of all the blood shed, anger and the likes of the world. Green on the other hand brings about the picturesque view of nature’s beauty, of prosperity, it’s easy on the eyes and for me green symbolizes love .. maybe love is too strong a word .. I don’t know what it was, but his green eyes attracted my attention the first time I saw him. It was as if they were made of emerald. I had reached an hour earlier to office that day.. as an intern I wanted to make a good impression. He smiled as he entered the office, I smiled back and he walked away to his cubicle. For the next few days I kept a vigil and as the clock stuck 10 he entered the office. I didn’t have a means to talk to this stranger in my office, he didn’t work in my team, the exchange of smiles though became a routine. He dropped in with clock work precision, as the clock sounded 10 he would enter the door, at sharp 6 in the evening he stepped out. I suspected whether he was a bit eccentric in nature obsessed with punctuality. I never saw him around the cafeteria during lunch hour neither did my wish of bumping into him during a tea break ever materialize. Again I wondered whether he was an introvert, a workaholic who kept to himself.

Continue reading Diary Entry