Co-authoring with Mr Tharoor

 

Jan 25, 2016;

The Hindu, India’s national newspaper and a reputed fourth estate, organised its annual literary fest The Hindu Lit for Life 2016. As a part of this festival was its new addition, the Tweet-a-Story contest, that used Twitter as a platform for budding writers to contribute to a short story initiated with a line by the popular author, politician and former UN under-secretary Mr. Shashi Tharoor.

I, to grab the chance to write alongside such a widely know personality, entered the contest. Many of my tweets being selected to contribute to the development of the story, at its end, after a week, I was selected by the team behind the contest as one of its four Top Contributors.

The rife word is that the story is getting published, and that the top contributors would be acknowledged as co-authors of the story.

You can read the complete story here.


May 25, 2016

The result of the contest is published, with my name under the eminent Shashi Tharoor’s. I take great pleasure, and a little pride – just a little – to present the same here: LFL_TweetAStory

A Real Neat Post

Love these awards that go in chain, linking people and words, and giving another chance to just blog.

This time it is the Real Neat Blog Award, passed on by fellow writer (you must visit him, here he is). Thanks, Varun 🙂

So the 7 questions that need answering:

1. Do you believe in God? Why or why not?

There are those who have realised. And then there are the others. I belong to the former.

2. Do you know what MBTI is? If yes, what is your type?

Yes, Varun helped. I am of the INFJ type.

3. What do you think is the most admirable quality in a human being?

To stand by the working world and observe things dispassionately.

4. Which is the one place you want to visit all by yourself? Why?

All by myself? The 90’s Varanasi featured in The Romantics.

5. If you had a choice to be born as an animal/bird, which one would it be? Why?

A bird would I be

To chirp outside her window,

peck at her offerings,

and sing a song to soothe her sleep.

6. Imagine you are exiled from the earth for whatever reason and has to live forever in one of the planets or moons of the solar system (and you can survive there due to some advanced technology and life support systems), then where would you choose to go? Why?

Moon. With Matt Damon.

7. Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?

There are those who have realised. And then there are the others. I belong to the latter.

I pass this on to: Sangbad, Raj, Megan, Confabler, Shreekanth, Mahi and Urvashi 🙂

Dear Aaila

FLASH FICTION #12:

Salim sweatingly pedaled to the stop. He had to be there at 8 to meet Kajal, but was late by many minutes. If not today, all his dreams would go shapeless.

Kajal was standing on the pavement tapping her foot in expectancy, waiting to receive the letter from Salim and deposit it with Aaila. It was the last day of her college, and the first time she was postmanning a love letter.

After handing over the letter and receiving promises that it would find Aaila, Salim turned his bicycle around. Kajal, in hurry, stepped down the pavement to cross the road. The sound of a large vehicle coming to a sudden stop, and the synchronous exclamations of the passersby tapped Salim’s instinct. There was no Kajal; only her blood squeezed out by the front tyre.

Salim didn’t sleep that night. He cried, hit himself on the forehead and went on hunger for days. He knew it was his fault. Only if he had arrived a bit earlier that morning… Aaila would have received his love letter.

How Edison Didn’t Invent

an illuminating conspiracy

Flash Fiction #11:

After another day of excessive, obsessive experiments to invent the electric light failed, Thomas Edison decided to take a stroll to clear his thickly wired mind with fresh air.

At the end of the pavement, on which he didn’t know how he had come, for his mind was still jiggling in the dingy laboratory, his eyes caught a flicker. One, two flickers. Approaching the small, tattered boy sitting there under the oil-light post, Edison’s heart went tup-tup-tup-tup-tup. The boy was meddling with a carbon filament.

Of course! How stupid am I to have not realised this. Carbon. High resistance and low voltage.

‘Son, what do you do?’

‘I work in the mines, sir. After work, I do this, sir.’

Thomas Edison spared some currency and conscience. After a year, he patented the Electric Bulb under his own name.

The boy? He died in his 54th year as an unknown miner.

Sherlock’s Solid Case

THE PERSONAL BLOG of Dr. John H. Watson

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A war doctor from the Afghan camp

I couldn’t understand why Sherlock was dazed. I was taking him to a better doctor then. Didn’t know if it was because he hadn’t had a case in the past 6 months, or if it was just one of his Sherlock-esque idiosyncrasies, but he was just so shocking to look at.

His eyes were staring ahead blankly; occasional murmurs sounded from his throat; and his face was so white, as if he had seen a live ghost.

All he did this morning was to hear cases, just like any other day, and pooh-pooh them on grounds of simplicity and blandness. Men and women and constables and children came one after another to narrate. Oh, there was even a seven-year-old who wanted Sherlock to find his red whistle! Could that child have pushed him to that state? I can’t say.

When we had met the doctor, Sherlock began to slur some words out. ‘There was a fat lady,’ he said, with a glint in his eyes, and immediately brought his hands to his frail chest, as if to guard himself from some horror. And I knew for a fact that there came no fat lady today, because I was right there, in the kitchen, helping Mary with the sausage.

‘There was a fat lady. She was so afraid and angry and tearful and desperate all at once. I didn’t like the air about her; she smelled. Right when I was about to dismiss her, she said, “Dear Mr Holmes, they all think it is a suicide. But no. Please prove it wrong. I’m telling you (sob, sob), my husband murdered me.”‘

Court House

Flash Fiction #09:

By the year 1949, H J Kania had amassed a sum of 20 lakhs while being in public service. On his thirtieth birthday party, he was pointed the index for being in possession of disproportionate assets. Charge sheets were filed and a shackle was used. Young Kania was taken to the then recently formed Supreme Court on 28 January 1950 for its first case. A Bench of three heard the plea, and have been hearing for the past 66 years.

The well-oiled machinery of the Supreme Court had been excellent in perpetually procrastinating Kania’s judgement over the years, as the man, at his bungalow, first passed onto his son, and then his grandson, the secret of gathering Gandhi notes.

However, in the year 2017, the reason for this unexpected movement being in light only to the Almighty, the Bench pronounced a sound judgement of 4 terrible years on the weak head of Kania and a hefty sum of 2 lakhs as fine. Kania, on a wheelchair, was rolled into a rusted cell. On the same evening, his great-grandson, a young man of unconventional appearance, came jumping into the cabin of the warden waving a wad of folded papers.

H J Kania was bailed out to celebrate his 97th birthday.

One Night at the Call Center

At 8 in the night, as the last set of people were pushing open the exit door of the office, I had an engaging chat with my colleagues to take some time off our work; we were aware it was going to be a long stay for us 3.

The topic veered to our college friends who have flown to study in America and Europe and such. L, one of those nice seniors you can approach with any doubt, investedly narrated her friend’s experience. The girl, it seemed, was sharing a flat with a 55-year-old Mexican nurse, and was lately seeing a different man emerge from the nurse’s bedroom every night.

Now I imagined this scene, how it would have happened night after night – how the girl would have felt when the nurse came out, tying her hair with a casual smile on her face, following the man to introduce him to her. ‘Living like that must be awful,’ I quipped in. ‘Especially since she is from here, unaccustomed to the promiscuous ways of the West.’

‘Oh, beyond what you can imagine! Not a day goes by without my friend calling me with her apprehension and disapproval,’ L said, with a dash of sorry sadness in her tone.

I turned to the silent S, my other senior who has contributed generously to the growth of our company over the past 4 years, and herself become less human in the process. ‘So what do you think?’

‘Not a very comfortable situation, I agree,’ she replied thoughtfully. ‘But you see, like how we don’t approve of this, a man living further in the interiors, who if simply informed that his daughter is in love, would hunt the poor boy through the entire village with raised billhook and puffing chest. So what is normal for the Mexican doesn’t agree with us, and our normality is beyond the understanding of a rural. One man’s food becomes another’s poison,’ she proverbially concluded. I nodded, considering the varied people and what they embraced as their culture.

I stretched my arms and my mouth opened wide. Two more hours to fight with this computer! L’s phone rang. She looked at the screen and worriedly walked away with the phone. ‘Must be that girl,’ I commented to S. As she smiled, her own phone shouted for attention. It was her man, calling to utter words dipped in honey and… you know right, all that these love birds usually chirp on phone.

She returned after the call and said, ‘I must inform my father soon. But I’m scared of what he’s capable of doing.’

Deaf Jeff

On the 83rd floor of the New York skyscraper was located Chilton’s Pharmaceuticals – a publicly-traded drug development company successful on the scale of Proust. Its new drug, CP-41, was under clinical research to address the cancer of prostate.

The entire floor was busy on account of the seasonal board meeting, to which now all the old chit-chatty directors were heading. There was only one person in that conference room who wasn’t an executive, and he was there to attend to their thirst and such whims. It was the office butler, Deaf Jeff.

Mr Chilton, the founder, a highly altruistic man, had the warmest of feelings for Jeff. He had personally overseen the day-to-day life of this disabled man, and had made him the softest comforts at work. To aid Jeff in his duties, and also to lessen his own employees’ efforts in reaching out to Jeff, he had bought him a mobile phone and had indicated by explicit gestures that it must at all times be in the Vibration mode. Jeff had smilingly nodded.

Chilton croaked his throat and spoke, ‘My dears, I deeply regret the message I have for you today. I want to –’ ‘Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today… I want to be a part of it, New York, New York,’ Sinatra sung from inside Jeff’s pocket, while he calmly stood there behind Chilton, ready to rush to the table of bottles if anyone saw him. As the song played, all the old eyes turned to Jeff, who, upon sudden synchronous demands, rushed to the table of bottles but on return didn’t know whom to address first.

‘Jeff, dear, come here,’ Chilton calmly waved. Jeff jogged to the chief and thrust the bottle under his nose. ‘No, dear. It’s your phone. Phone. It is ringing, you see. Your phone.’ Jeff unearthed the device and stared at the blinking screen. Chilton stood up, attended the telemarketing call, cut it, and put the device on Vibration mode. Jeff displayed the sincerest apology to Chilton and the board, and resumed his attentive stance behind Chilton.

Chilton again croaked his throat and spoke, ‘My dears, I want to convey to you all that CP-41 failed the Phase III trial in the Boston site. Yes, the results are firm and irreversible. As you might infer,’ all the grey heads were shaking frantically in disbelief, ‘our investments are going to yield us nothing. And that could mean potential crash of our stock.’

Twenty minutes after the board meeting, Jeff was walking fast on the platform. He pushed and nudged and slipped and slid through the thick throng. Wiping the sweat, Jeff entered Watson & Sons on Wall Street.

‘Hey, Jeff!’ His broker called out.

Deaf Jeff turned to the sound and said, ‘Look Mike, I want you to immediately dump all my Chilton stocks.’

Heard you, chief,’ Mike pulled Jeff’s portfolio and clicked a button.

Chilton’s Pharmaceuticals made headlines the next day. Thousands of families skipped a beat; some even two and three. While important and depressed people were crowding the reception on the 83rd floor, Jeff was happily arranging bottles for them.

Samsara

As you make the strings tremble
With chiseled tips playing uncontrolled,
My random thoughts diffuse into one.
Of the image I wake up to; sleep with.

The sound of your music acts guide
Through memories I made of reveries;
Like the happening that reminds us
Of the night dream we forget upon wake.

Though all rise and fall and bends I know
By listening and living your practice
I am touched and surprised every night
Like when I try and steal your sight.

Vainly wishing I had not given another
And thinking secretly to sin the sacred,
I take effort to keep most of the music
To accompany me as I remain by the sill.

~ a wife’s admiration for the pundit across the street