Flash Fiction

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Writing takes a turn in this new age where speed and instant gratification are the norms of everyday life.

Are you a literary person who wishes to catch up with your best friend (a book, i am sure) at least once in your busy day?

But feel like you can’t spare a few minutes to read a quantum of Dickens or any of the big guys owing to the pace you have got to move in (most probably because of a mistakenly chosen engineering course)?

You are perfectly understood! Now all you have to do is to follow me right here so that you get the best doses of literary pieces (probably an aspiring writer’s hyperbole, never mind) every once in awhile to quench your thirst for words

And what more? The pieces come in custom-engineered packets, each less than 100 words. So read it between your boring, head-spinning, blood-sucking classes, or before you doze off in your arduous bus rides to and fro college.

Entertainment guaranteed in a minute!

This is flash fiction re-engineered.

The Ant who Wanted to Rule the World

Flash fiction #01:

After the lazy ant’s pregnant wife bitterly brought before his sleepy eyes his own unindustrious (which she considered unantish) self, he resolved to prove to himself and her what he was capable of doing with a little determination… he thus walked out of their wooden gallery to conquer the world! Pleasantly dreaming of what he would do once he had put the world under his feet, he walked unseeingly across the crawling baby’s way to her mother’s milky breasts. She made the kingly ant into nothing with an unintentional pat of her padded palm.

THE ANT WHO WANTED TO RULE THE WORLD

I.

Yes, it is such a story. The protagonist of this story was Anant. Uh, sorry! It was an ant; a shiny black one of the carpenter ant family. Natural to his lineage he was very long – a lengthy 1.1 centimeters! But quite contradictory to the antish nature, he was anything but industrious; the human equivalent of a couch potato. All through his childhood and early adolescence he stayed in his gallery that his father had cut into a wooden cupboard of a kitchen over many years of hard work, as a result of which the old man had kicked the bucket while still in his youth. But the son, our protagonist, never missed his father. He stayed indoors being more than content with his mother’s supportive presence.

He was later at a point united with a fine girl (whose family lived quite far away – in the bedroom of the same house). The girl, during the nuptial flight with our hero, was made pregnant; although how our hero had managed to transfer his line into the secret vault of the female remains the greatest of mysteries. The fine girl, initially, led a very happy life with a husband who always seemed to be around for her. But when it became evident that the husband could never be found outside their gallery, either as a part of the local work force involved in bringing home crystals of sugar, or as a part of the gang that regularly waged war with the cohort living under the sink across the kitchen, the fine girl turned wild. She started complaining, like the human wife dissatisfied with her boring husband.

One morning, when the ant was leaning back in his seat and deeply wondering how he remained pitch black in colour even as he was feeding on pure white sugar crystals brought home by his mother and dutiful wife, the complaints – worded so bitterly and incitingly – were poured down on him in sudden effusion that a spark was ignited in his lazy mind. The resulting fire burnt down the laziness and left room for deep meditation of his reason for existence in this life.

II.

This story really begins here. Now that the ant had left its gallery for good, the wife was into her contemplative mood, like how the human wife regrets reproaching her harmless husband who had suddenly decided to walk away.

The ant crossed the kitchen and turned right immediately to walk along the length of the wall bordering the spacious hall – unchartered waters for his inexperienced legs. He didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t really mind the new surroundings developing around him.

Am I really useless as she says?

                                        Of course not! I am an ant, in its truest meaning. I will show her what I am capable of.

    But am I really capable of anything?

       Oh, I am. Just a quantum of determination is all I need to rule this world.

Thus was he debating within his (tiny) mind, until he resolved to strive to rule the world, literally.

He was going on for a long time, not knowing what he was going to do to bring the world under his feet, until he stepped onto a round mirror lying on the floor. He then bent his head down, and lo behold! He could see himself… or rather his reflection, as his mind quickly processed. For the first time, he could admire himself… the kingly him. Ah! How kingly I would appear on a throne built in a gallery like my own! How I would have live men brought to me on plates for my taste of their limbs! How I would have antish women (only virgins) brought to me in wine glasses! How I would bestow crystals of pure white sugar on my staunch followers! How I would…

Slowly, another being came into his view in the mirror; the head of the family living in the house had come to stand next to him. The ant bent his head further and shrunk his eyes to closely observe the reflection of the man, and his own, and then again the man’s … how it extended deep down beyond his view.

How large the man seemed! And to even think that he would have this man brought to him on a plate for his taste…

III.

With a heart weaker than it had been before setting out on his destiny the ant retraced his steps, heading now to his familiar and welcoming gallery. He would return to his caring mother! He would return to his sweet wife! And his child growing within her! He wouldn’t unnecessarily have to worry about ruling a world unfit for insignificant species such as his!

How insensible of me to think I can rule this world!

 I have to accept the reality. Sitting at home was better. 

I can’t. An ant can’t.

Of course it can’t.

Now that his mind was unified in its decision, thanks to that man who had come to stand next to him, he walked home with renewed vigour.

The baby of the house, on her way to her mother’s milky breasts, spotted a long black ant running across her way. She immediately forgot her hunger and went into a playful mood with the ant. Taking the empty cough syrup bottle lying to her right, among her other miscellaneous playthings, she quickly took off the transparent cap from its place and closed it over the unseeing ant.

IV.

The ant hit his head with the wall of the cap and stopped to try and understand the situation he had fallen into. Or well, put under. He saw a baby looming over him laughingly. He ran along the wall of the cap round and round but he could find no exit. He then grew greatly desperate and climbed the wall and then walked upside-down on the roof, still in vain. The baby, enjoying the sudden adrenaline-filled activity of the ant it had captured, was in splits. She clutched her belly and began drooling. The laughter, while seeing the ant’s efforts to escape her, became so uncontrollable that she fell backward with her legs kicking in mid air.

She slowly recovered herself, but only to play more with the ant. She moved the cap all over the floor without lifting it. Occasionally she would lift one half of the cap, and when the ant rushed to the opening she would immediately close it and laugh at her own tricks.

A thousand questions were raised in the ant’s mind… oh yes, it is possible!

Would I have escaped this fate had I gone on in my way? Was I right in comparing myself with the tall and large man, and then feel dispirited? Who knows, maybe I would have ruled the world…!

The child, as was the custom with all children, got bored with its little prisoner, and so lifted the cap and killed the ant with one smooth pat of her palm. With just the thought of milk in her mind the little, apathetic murderer crawled to her mother’s room.

The Last Exam

The bulbous fan above my head whines whisperingly as it goes round and round, trying its best to counteract the heat that is somehow present all about me. The bright green leaves to my right, across the grilled window whose laminated door doesn’t budge more than enough to give only a small opening, rustle noisily every time a fresh gush of wind blows past them. Occasionally a dog is seen running amid the plants and overgrown shrubs outside. Occasionally the footsteps of the Invigilator are heard softly patting on the newly tiled floor (only to the keen listener). My head instinctively turns (from the lined paper and the freshly pressed ink on it) to the source of the monotonously rhythmic patter. But then, as if fearing the lady would misconstrue my turning of head, I swiftly bring it back to my answer sheet.

But my head doesn’t stay there for even a stretch of minutes. Not because the paper is uninteresting or tough or anything that a paper could unusually be, but it is my last exam… not for the semester or the academic year, but for life.

My mind is revolving around countless matters – the finality I was experiencing, about what I would experience after the imminent end, about last days of college life and the resulting memories, and of course, that I need to write on this subject, and eventually how I am going to write.  (To not let the memory of this moment fade away, I close my eyes and take in the visuals and sounds around me one by one. The peace hovering above me leads me to think if there is anything that my receptive mind could capture other than the omnipresent stillness.)

Sudden mental reminders of the unanswered questions before me bring my eyes back to them and my fingers upon the answer sheet. I write, with the finality now weighing more intensively on my mind. My writing (requiring not much thinking since the test is conducted by Anna University – where what matters is legible presentation characterised by underlined text, and a quantum of knowledge in the subject the exam is on) often slackens in its course, and even pauses undecidedly now and then. My senses register the same sights and sounds. The same thoughts return, in the same order.

In due course, the Rubicon is crossed; I finish the paper. I check its front and back (both containing important information filled by me) twice very scrutinisingly. Or wait. I think I checked thrice – a very unnecessary effort, but I guess I have got OCD. I then hold my answer sheet in my hands and see it… like a lover cupping the cheeks of his girl for one last time before letting her board the train waiting to take her far, very far from him. I try to take in much of the answer sheet, even its smell, but I caution myself thinking what others surrounding me would think when they see a guy passionately sniffing his answer sheet with closed eyes. Ooh, indeed a strange sight it would be!

Well then, the bell sounds its strident sound and lets me know that it is all over. The train has let out its Boom! Or whatever sound it naturally lets off.

The invigilator – a seemingly very young woman wrapped in a crisply ironed sari – walks to me and extends her hand. The train has started its slow, smoky chugging, and it is time the pining lover allowed his girl to go aboard.

I tighten my grip on the answer sheet and extend my hand inch-by-inch. The other end is gripped by the lady. But I still don’t let go of the thick booklet. It would have seemed like I and the lady were involved in a tug-of-war, but then no one cares to notice; the end of exams and the beginning of a new phase of life is working on them positively. Eventually, after a second (it felt like many hard minutes) I loosen the grip. My booklet is unceremoniously being taken away to the next table where my classmate is waiting to be relieved of the burden in her hand.

Maybe I shouldn’t get too emotional about what is trivial to the world. Or maybe, I just shouldn’t have bothered about others’ opinions and gone ahead and kissed my booklet.

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