Showing posts from November, 2013

Z for Zero-sum (Part I)

Freida Dantas stepped out of the queue to look around. The machine wasn’t that far from here–only a few hundred more. She looked behind. The queue went on for as long as she could see. She too had started from the end of the queue many hours ago. The machine took only a second to judge, so the queue had kept moving continuously. But she worried if there were more hopefuls in the queue than seconds in a day. She had been queueing up religiously for her pronouncement every day since she had died.

She’d learned of the system the day she had arrived at the purgatory. Learned is probably not the best word to describe the process. She had woken up in the purgatory a week ago knowing about it instinctively, with no recollection of her prior life. She knew exactly when and where to queue up for the machine. The machine would tell her if it was her time to ascend to the heaven yet. She’d witnessed thousands of ascensions on her first day. The ascendants one after the other had stood under the


She’s coming. She’s coming!”, Vikram yelled, as he scampered down, and squatted behind the park bench. His comb was now working at full speed. Aanand lethargically took out his glasses from his front pocket and put them on his squashed nose. They were ridiculously small lenses, for a ridiculously big man.         “She will go. She will go! Don’t let her go, idiot!!” Vikram pleaded from behind the bench. Aanand’s eyes flitted across the park for their target. Aah… There she was! Bucking gracefully along the dusty park alley, she was graceful! Her hair rose and fell like flowers in a zephyr.         She was not alone. Her sister was running with her, or so he guessed - the two of them looked similar. Yet she looked a class apart, even from that distance.

        “What the fuck are you waiting for??” Vikram squealed, as he generously sprayed perfume on himself. “Go!” This time it was more like a scream as he pointed in her direction.         Everything had been planned beforeha…


Madhumita was perched on her favourite rocking chair, leisurely reading a murder mystery, when her phone vibrated. She absent-mindedly switched it to silent as she read in great detail about Pedro's love for predatory birds. Her phone started to vibrate again. She slowly took off her glasses and kept them on the table along with her book, carefully placing the bend of her glasses on the page she was reading. The phone went silent. She picked it up nevertheless. It was some local landline number. It couldn't have been from Manoj's office. He was not in town. She was about to call back when her phone rang again.          "Mum?" It was Sayantani. "I did something really stupid. I'm at the police station. Please don't ask me anything. Just get me home. And don't tell papa about any of this." The call ended.         Madhumita was startled. The shock took a moment to register with her. Sayantani had always been stupid, but this time, she had…

Kindness of Strangers

There was a feeble metal clang of a stone hitting an electricity pole. It was pitch dark except for the streetlights. Shyam slowly rose his head out of the blanket to look around with his swollen red eyes. He had not gotten proper sleep for the past two days. He noticed a figure draped in a thick blanket walk briskly past him. He could discern that it was a man, as the man slipped his hairy hand from under the blanket and checked his watch. He hurried further. Shyam put the blanket over his head again, blessing the temple people for the cozy blankets.
______________________________________ "Oye! Get up". He felt something against his ribs. He adjusted the blanket - still sleeping. He heard a swooshing sound, followed by a stinging pain in his buttocks. He threw away the blanket and squirmed in pain. He looked up - fully awake, adrenaline pumping through his veins. A police constable stood tall over him, wielding a wooden stick. "Now would you like to bless us with your…

To Spot a Tiger

"It's a male tiger", said the guide. "How do you know that?", he asked.
"The paw prints are square. It's a big one too." One of the tourists got up to take a photo of the paw print."neeche baitth jaiye. It's not safe to get out"The jeep started, and they followed in the direction of the tiger prints. The prints disappeared into a thicket. The driver sped ahead on the road. Getting down was not an option. Arun was thrilled by the sudden excitement. They hadn't spotted any tiger since morning."Bhaiyya, is this the one we were searching for in the morning?", he asked.
"No. This one is different."
Their olive colored Gypsy took a swift right turn. The unpaved road was flanked on both sides by tall grass. There was one more jeep there. It was on the other side of the straight road. The guide in the other Gypsy signaled them to stay still. 'It's a tiger!'. He tried to find a moving tiger in the yellow g…