FRAME 13 STORIES

The Paradox

Shoumik De

A young boy, an ardent follower of Christ. He preaches his gospel to non-believers, who rather believe in science more than in Christ. One day he discovers a hole in the fabric of time. He shows it to his best friend and tells him to continue preaching the name of Christ. While he goes two thousand years in the past in an attempt to meet Jesus Christ. Villagers see him as a man from the future and call him a miracle worker. Despite his protests, he draws a following, and soon he is the center of a competing religion.

Call of Duty

Jayashree Aanand

For last forty hours, at the border of his country, he was lying with his sniper, his eye fixated on the shed hundred yards away. Suddenly, he noticed a suspicious behaviour. Without a second thought, he pulled the trigger. Boom. One confirmed kill! He surveyed the area. Two more teens, perhaps thinking in astonishment, “Sudden death? Even before activating the suicide bomb?” He shot those shocked, but not scared eyes and those firm hands. First with his camera. And then… Three confirmed kills!

Peek

Vardhini N C

He watched her bosom disappear as she flung the pallu over her shoulder. He watched as she patted talcum powder on her face, picked hairpins from between her stained teeth and ran a pink stub over her lips. He watched her glance at her reflection in the mirror pockmarked by glue leftover from iridescent bindis. And then she motioned him to leave the room. The son left without protest. He couldn’t watch any more. As always he looked outside through the broken blinds in main room. As always he watched a man enter the house.

The Loom

Mbaria

My husband knew my taste well and to be honest what more do you want when you have a loving husband who owns a saree loom.
This anniversary he brought me a special one the most wonderful the most beautiful saree I had ever seen, must be in lakhs.
Honey I need to see how is this made , I wore it that day and we went to the loom . I heard machines being run inside a cottage. I went near and the sound of machines stopped and then I saw those eyes staring at me.
I stood there naked.

Yonder world, Their wonder world.

Ullhas B Kulkarni

Their grubby fingers eagerly clutched at the ‘window’ to yonder world. A 'mysterious disease' snatched away their parents in quick succession. AIDS? Nobody knew, nor cared.
Haria and Lakhi were unceremoniously dumped outside the village in this open prison. Uncle took care of their food and clothing; but they were untouchables.
They lived on vivid memories of a truck driver father bringing goodies and a doting mother making life fun. For them, it was their wonder world.
Were they doomed to this life of isolation?
Or would some Good Samaritan rescue them and take them to another wonder world?

The Attack

Audou Bay

It has been few days after the attack. V & I had ran flat of our supplies, even the air hardly gave itself to us. There in an abandoned witch house top the hill on a mountain, where we laid-back, cowardly and fragile. Yes, we were cowards for we hasten and beat through the branches of the forest, seeking refuge from the mountain at the time they attacked our village armed with guns, explosives, and killer machines. From afar we take watch of the tragic sights. A sight I know will remain painted deep into my feeble heart.

Thousand Splendid Words

Venkatesh G

Laila peeps through her parched broken window curtains and sees Khalid walking towards her hut. She wonders why he has come again. She doesn't have anything more to say.
He comes near and she says ‘Khalid sahib. It is not a good time to see me. Also, I have told you everything’
Khalid smiles and says ‘Thank you for letting me into your life. I have turned your thousand words into ‘thousand splendid suns’. Here, please accept this as a small token of gratitude.’
She opens the envelope to see a cheque of 10,000 dollars. Signed ‘Khalid Hosseini’.

Filmistan

Monica Serban

Suffocation. Freezing air. Deadly thirst. Sweaty terror. A German officer barking orders. And the white letters of the word Auschwitz glimpsed through a peephole in the cold metallic skin of the train.
This was their last memory.
70 years later, they are stranded in a filthy wooden box, hungry, and hopeless. Spying their armed guards through a narrow cleft. On the ground, a TV was buzzing.
The kids look at each other and nod in silence.
They may not be Jamal and Salim, but Slumdog Millionaire has just given them an idea.
They will break their karmic bad spell.

Perspective

Aneen

What do you see when you look at this picture?
Odds are that our story has been made an exhibition of, sympathized with, retweeted, favorited, shared, liked, placed in a random generic category that “questions your humanity”, and forgotten.
The thing is, despite our conditions, we choose to look through a small gap and see the world as a place full of hope and opportunity. Conversely, most of you see that very same gap, limit yourselves to feeling bad, speak empty words and do nothing.
We do not want your sympathy.
We wish for empathy.The real essence of Humanity.

Nobody's Children

Roshan D'Souza

There is no excuse for child labour. Or is there? I thought looking at the desperate young eyes in the photograph staring at me from the OFS website. No one sends their child into a hellhole willingly. What kind of wretched poverty has compelled the parents to mortgage their baby’s childhood forever?
I wonder if I have a right to be pontificating against child labour not having experienced this kind of poverty.
I look at my cherubic 10yo Rylan sleeping blissfully, say a silent thanksgiving prayer to God and ask Him to watch over the not so fortunate.

Marks of Men

Gairo

A pair of eyes say many words, they reflect many things and these eyes were reflecting futurity.
These novice eyes watch an ensemble of Bhikshus playing some trans-mundane music which this tribe has never heard of.
Only the eyes which are affixed in the socket of a face, with tattoos, could audience this mesmerizing orchestra.
The Bhikshus were profusely playing the Veena, Flute,Dhol and Bagpipers. The elders of the tribe deemed these instruments as the vessels that carry sounds of God.
These kids have to peek like this until they have those tattoos, Marks of Men.

Expectation

Shlagha Jindal

The lights were shining like diamonds, the place was decorated to the fullest, people were busy with some work of the other and the caterers were setting up the stalls. Yes, a typical Indian wedding. Rich husbands with their heavily dressed wives could be seen everywhere. I was one of the visitors. I was finding my way through a bunch of unknown people when my eyes caught sight of something. Two pair of eyes peeped in through the fence. Innocent, hungry eyes. I gave them a plate with the delicacies, and those eyes shone to the fullest.

Half a Smile

Ankita Chauhan

“So well lit up, all men are in white fabric, really astonishing. Come here bhaiya, look at those big rashgullas.” Cheeku peered outside with amazement.
“Those are gulabjamuns, stupid” he replied earnestly.
“Why did they hide us here? Why can’t we sit on those chairs, we had managed?”
‘Because we’re untouchab.. Because you’re a blunder kid!
“Am I? Hmm I wish I were a dog then.”
“Minister’s dog” he remonstrated.
“You’re such a talker; now shut up. Minister began giving speech on child labor.”
“That’s what I’m saying Bhaiya! Rashgullas are too tempting “Chiku replied with half a smile.

Will you adopt me?

Liz

The visitors who come to our orphanage often tell stories about the world outside.
We want to experience that world, experience being deeply loved, experience belongingness.
Each one of us here needs a family.
Will you adopt us?
We promise we will never leave you because we have experienced life without family.

Connected with pain

Parekhit

Imagine sleeping together, getting up, crying, laughing aloud, being in love and seeing death together? Sounds like a perfect love story? Perhaps not! Not for Raghu and Raju. Born as Siamese twins, they were connected in their heart and head. Their father was a laborer and couldn’t get both ends meet, forget having enough money for a surgery and getting them two separate identities. Happiness for them was restricted to the evening, when their father reached back home. With the sole meal for the day. While they looked from the window with hungry eyes, all day long.

The Twin Perspective

Vijay Gupta

The conjoined twins were never accepted by the people around. They were kept locked in a room. The view from a broken window connected them to the world.
After their father’s death, they were hired by the circus.
“What will we do in a circus?” asked one to the other.
A few days later, as they entered the ring on a cart driven by horses, they couldn’t believe how happy people were to see them. Even the elephants and clowns didn’t amuse them so much.
The thunder of claps made the other brother say, “we shall live!”

Inside / Outside

Anand Halve

The twins looked in longingly through the broken blinds. Into the room of the rich kids. How they wished they were inside; playing with the computer, games, toys.
Eventually, they dragged themselves away, kicking a plastic bottle along the road, pushing each other playfully, skipping along towards their shanty.
The two boys inside the room were tired. Not body-tired, but spirit-tired: the burden of piano classes, tuitions, their IB exams weighing down their young shoulders.
They looked out longingly through the broken blinds. How they wished they were outside; skipping, kicking a plastic bottle along the road.

The eyes that never saw

Zubin Raval

Poverty commodified Jyoti and her life. Sold (married for society) at a young age, her eyes witnessed abuse, rape, torture in every manner beastly possible, but she didn't see. Her dead eyes took shelter in the eerie confines of her horrendous past, the only thing she saw was ‘destruction’, she actually prayed for it. Until one fine day, the tables turned, fresh air made its presence felt, the sun of freedom shone brighter. For the first time, her visionless eyes saw something ‘A gleam of hope’. Slavery was abolished, forever.

Questioning Eyes

Confused Sperm

"No! I can't face you anymore"
"Just few more," questioning eyes said.
"Ok," I said nervously.
"Where were you when all over the world we were being orphaned, exploited?"
"Umm...I...I...was there,discussing and trying very hard to find a way to help you."
"Sure?"
I was suffocating, felt someone was strangulating me.
"Get up,dear"
"Ohh! You just saved me."
Sonal gave me a weird stare.
Now I’m looking in to mirror and wait...no...no...again that questioning eyes...now its mine.
"Sleeping you is less numb,Ya?" they asked.

A Rectangular World

Sahil Banga

The light outside promised freedom from an eternity of darkness. The world was beautiful, round and infinite, they had heard. But their world was a rectangular patch horizon-ed by a collage of buildings that even hid the skies. They knew not where the rain fell from, where the thunder & lightening started, or how the air reached their dungeon. But at least the light provided hope, of catching the rainbow that reflected across the large glass windows of the buildings. All they wanted was to see the sight beyond the buildings. Beautiful, round and infinite.

Two eyes

Srujana Adhikari

It was my first night at new home. I ate my dinner switched off the lights and slept. I was woken up by kids talking. I got up and looked around to find no one around. I assumed it to be neighbours and slept, but again i woke up hearing talks. I got angry and went out to shout at them but found no one there. Came in to the house to see a small space which has been covered by wood and two eyes seeing through the holes.

Silent Noise

Deeksha Misra

It's been hours of dingling and dangling, the waves lashing against the deck, purring out a soft mourn. It must be around that time when the chill of the wind reaches the root of the skin hurling the heart with the anticipation of hot bread and warm soup.
Little did we know where we were, but every breath we took seemed free and better.. One peek every sometime assured the distance between us and Baba. Fate roared with benevolence at our valour, as we serpented away on the mighty waters to go back to what we call our Home.

Two Pair of Eyes

Avinash Shenoy

How long do we hide here?"
"Till the time, devil gets off him", said his brother, looking at their unfortunate dad who was drunk and shouting abuses.
After some time, they had a peek outside through the panes, both scared and shaking. Two pair of eyes eager to find some solace.
Their dad was on the floor, flies hovering over him. Both exchanged glances, not knowing what to do.
The day had passed already waiting, they were hungry.

Life goes on..

Ranjeeta

Bihu and Riku were sad as they kept on looking at that empty street for long after Mayaamma is gone. She was the kind souled Volunteer for this orphanage called “Mitra” and she came today to inform both of them that they got good home and parents to stay with.
In last 2 years both of them have become thick buddies and it was difficult to believe that next Friday they both will be separated. But the last words of Mayaama kept echoing in their 8 year old brain as they both tried to understand the meaning of –“Life goes on”

Metonymy

Sheetal Nair

I can view the city lights, but can they see me ? Do they know me ? I think they find me most beautiful not when I'm all fancied up but when I'm lying on the carpet in mess ; laughing about something that had happened years ago. When I was not trying to impress anyone, and taken down that wall that I had built for everyone. I let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts...

Paradigm

Womania Neverborn

Those grey eyes at the same place, same direction but the view changed.
They were habitual of peeping through window whether their father is getting something for them. Some eatables, some toys; given by the man he worked for as a guard.
Hands were full that day, complete smile on his face. And then all he saw was a car, drunken teenager and his father. It was red everywhere, few splashes on his innocent mind too, turning his grey eyes red.
Forever.
Younger one keeps looking in same direction, just to find out what Bhaiya keeps staring at.

The first sight

Paro

The tribes lived deep in the forest with their own weird life style, untouched by civilization.
And then it happened. A shelter suddenly sprung up near the river and they saw strange men in boots and hats wandering around the place. Their men folk warned them never to go anywhere near the thatched enclosure.
But Bannu and Jannu couldn't contain their curiosity.
One day stealthily they approached and peeped in. Fascinated they watched colorful people talking, dancing, singing, fighting- all on a tiny wall .The TV was on.
Modernity had stepped in.

Guns and Hunger

Nikki

Is it them again?
Yes, ma said we need to hide here, until they leave.
But why do they come again and again? What more do we have to offer?
Don't know for sure. But look at their eyes, they have some fear too, despite the guns they carry. Perhaps they are afraid too of something. Perhaps they have children like us too who will die of hunger soon...

Trapped Innocence

Dr Riti A

Every Weekend Honking Trucks nearby brought smiles on faces of Shaalu & Raju,child Laborers at Bangle Factory in City of Taj, Agra. It indicated distant colorful site of new Toy stock load at neighboring Toy factory.
"Woohoo! They're here again!" Both ran towards window, with their innocent sparkling eyes but hands soiled.Minutes Later,Labor Head noticed both busy peeping.He slapped them hard for being careless at work & dismissed their meals for rest of the day.
Colorful sheer of Bangles snatched away the Rainbow of Childhood these trapped kids Dared to Dream of!

Every Emotion

Aniruddha Pathak

This morning seemed unusual. No, he did not miss his cab, that was usual. Those eyes still haunted him. Shocked at the scene he witnessed last night. Those eyes that wanted to rip apart every flesh on his body out of hunger. What were syringes doing in that shanty? The mother and daughter both huddled together at the corner of the shanty, while a body decayed! He failed to understand this human emotion. This addiction, that made one so blind that they forgot to look at their paling limbs. His heart raging with anger, his eyes moist.

Curtain

Madhuri

Bhola and Jhala both used to hear stories of enchanting world out there of skyscrapers, machines, strange noise making smoke spewing vehicles, magic world of cinema and sick people hurrying about.
Both were residents where pure food, water and air ruled supreme. It was an artificial man made world where no outside interference was tolerated.Meant for assuming genetical superiority of 100% healthy human bodies the orphans were subjects of experiments.The frames were their only connect to the real world. Pure longing to be out there and fear of unknown lurked in their eyes.

Dead Hope

Nisha Arppit

“Don't go out,its very dangerous. I will be back soon.” Malati went out hurriedly bolting the door behind her while warning her children. Her both kids were hungry for two days and Malati has to find food anyhow.
Children saw her going out from the window.
It was the last time they were seeing her.
She never returned, she couldn’t because she was dead.
Killed in cross-firing of forces and Maoists.
It’s been months, but eyes of her kids are still glued to window, with a dead and dark hope in them, waiting for her...

Counterplot

Shivani

A police jeep roared in front of her hut. Was it true, as the eye-witnesses' report would have it, that two bastard-children held guns in their hands? The belongings of the dead were scattered in shacks and shanties in and around. Gentlemen in 'Vardi' coerced her to the patrol wagon.
Now back-fence talks are about her being apportioned to the saviours of her twin-lads, one by one, every night.
Tormented by unbearable hunger, now they scavenge empty liquor bottles, fill them with water, and drink, to quench their hunger, waiting endlessly for their mother's homecoming.

Find your Pinocchio

Rahul Saraf.

The three of them were crafted together with mastery and finesse by none other than the great Geppetto. Designed for the east, Pinocchio was shipped yesterday. His last words were rather intriguing, "I will find the fairy. My nose grows now." Everyone knew that Pinocchio was a liar. They ignored him.
Just before sunset, when Tano was surreptitiously examining his own nose, Lucas declared in an unusual delphic tone, "I will find the fairy. My heart cries now."

Home

The Storyteller

There was a constant buzz for the past 2 days about a “celebrity” joining them. Rumors were abuzz about who will it be.
Everybody was very excited. Finally, they get to meet the real person and not just the hyped version of PR machinery. In fact, even the celebrities who joined them were known to find solace at this place away from the maddening pressures and expectations of the world. The wait was over.
The gates opened and Phil Hughes walked in, accompanied by God. HE said, with a smile, “Welcome to Heaven son – you are home”.

Peeping toms

Payal

Aroma of delicacies had spread across the street.
The duo that thrived on sympathy was drawn to the marriage hall by hunger in their bellies. Among a bunch of guests deeply engrossed in the pomp, was a kind soul, untouched by the filth of adulthood, who noticed the peeping toms. Ramesh marched towards them with his plate loaded with hot Puris, Biryani, Jalebis & gave it away quietly. They were more than happy at the sight of food, gobbled everything in minutes. Biggest challenge for humanity is to establish equal distribution, as vegetation is in reality nobody’s personal possession.

The Graduation

Neil

"It's the D-day today, how does it feel?"
"Alive and free”
“So, have you guys decided?"
"Not yet! They’re installing new blinds, making a lower cut for the little one to glance through", said the elder one.
"Is it necessary?"
"Yes! For our rights...and food", whispered the little one as he reached for his Kalashnikov and walked slowly towards the blinds, to select the captives.
A few gunshots later, medals will be pinned to them, feast would be served.
You may condemn it as brutal murders; but for them it's “The Graduation”, freedom, few more days of life.

Their World

Manoj M

Before they could see the beauty of this world, they had seen the brutality of it. A bright sunny day never meant anything to them, neither did the moonlit night matter. They knew just one thing right, to be lost, and to not be aware of it. Their only delirium, a random stranger, with a camera in hand, clicking their pictures. They pose, just like how the photographer would want, just like how the world would like. Yet being unaware of everything, torn between nothingness and hope.

Freedom

Megh Shah

Their eyes stared together out of the tiny space that was allowing them to dream of the imaginary freedom. There was only one way to escape,for one of them. By sacrificing either of their freedom. The younger one said," I'll come back,brother.To free you". And the elder one distracted the guards,while the younger one took his final steps towards wall. The next moment he heard a shot behind him. And he looked into the eyes of his brother from a distance that were saying :"I'm free now,brother".

Lights, camera, life!

Sumi

The boys struggled to keep a slit open in the fraying blinds. They looked on in awe as the makeup man patted away the beads of sweat on the angelic-looking damsel. Perfect shoulders peeped out of her boat-necked blouse.
Now there were tears on her face, which the makeup man wasn’t wiping away. A large man with a chunky gold chain around his neck led her by the hand to a waiting car.
“Let’s break for lunch. Director sir said we can take our time to make it perfect,” smirked one of the set designers.

Never a Burden.

Sejal

I was collecting some wood from the nearby jungle with Sanya, my daughter. Suddenly, some Naxalites attacked on a patrolling policevan. I got panicked and hid in the empty hut to be safe.
Sanya was excited, she thought we are playing hide and seek while I was petrified.
I tried my best to keep her safe.
But, the mishap was already written. For poor people like us, daughters are said to be a burden since the day they are born till the day one among us die.
But, for me she was my asset and never a burden.

The Grand Escape

Onkar

Perturbed and petrified, the slave couple eluded their white master and fled into the forest. He pursued them to kill the only two black people ever to disobey him. After prolonged and vain chase, he saw a wooden shed. He approached it with anticipation, only to find nobody inside. Frustrated, he put the gun down and stood to answer his bladder’s call. Just then he saw two pairs of eyes fixed on him from outside through the tiny gap. They looked anxious, awed and horrified. Everybody remained stunned for a while. “Run”, she whispered instantly with an impudent smirk.

"Somnium Necrosis”

Aime

“I’m Hiba. I am Nine.
I left Syria eight days ago. What do I remember?
I would pray that the sky would be cloudy so that planes couldn't see us to shell. But they were always there.
In the morning we came back to our home but it was ruined, I cried but there was nothing else to do.
I’m Hiba & I hide when I am afraid .”

The soliloquy in the frame was stuck for a long time, I closed the computer. And I dreamt that night....
“Hiba! I’m Aime and I also hide when I’m afraid.”

Irrational

Chandni Roy

They peeped from behind the blinds in their hideout, watching their house being vandalised by those who've always been like their family. But now, they were their enemies… because suddenly they realised that they didn't belong with them!
Not fear, but the shock of witnessing the hatred burning in those eyes that'd once twinkled with affection, rendered them mute.The younger brother couldn't hold back a sob. It was enough to give away their hideout. The door was flung open.They turned around. What met their eyes,was the last thing they ever saw… just as well!

Outside Inside

Reshmy

In those days, we were trapped indoors for months together. The days of the war brought within us a sense of togetherness that only fear could bring. A gun or two would never suffice to guard our lives. But we knew that we were all in this together. The unspoken family. Life started unravelling to us despite the confines. Common place feelings like love, gratitude, jealousy and pain crept in through the small vents in our window mats. And we would look outside, initially wanting to get out, but eventually were happier within.

Stabbed

Shakti Shetty

When he was born, she promised herself that she’d protect him—no matter what. After all, he was the brightest piece of truth in her otherwise miserable life. But promises are easier made than kept; especially when you’re a single mother in a world dominated by white men short on empathy. However, she had a reason to live and she wasn’t willing to give up on him. Which also explains why she had to fatally knife her tormentor inside a shack on the tea plantation with her little one being the sole witness of the horrific but necessary crime.

Innocence Lost

Dinesh Chandar

This time too, my story was at the rock bottom. I told myself that I am going to make it to the top pushing aside Shakti Shetty, Sejal, Dhanya and the likes, as I took a good look at this week's frame - two pairs of innocent eyes behind a hideout, reminding the days of playing hide and seek. I still continued to play the game, trying to hide myself from all the rat race and meanness of the world. But the way I began this story itself is telling how I'm just part of the rat race!

The Wait

Anirudh Parmar

It was becoming dark. But still those eyes were searching for "Amma" who was the most loving person in their world.They were hungry and tired. But that's not the reason that they were waiting. They waited because they cared. How she will be? Where she will be? And when she will return?, are the questions that arose in their minds. But the anticipation was wrong. The result of the wait was full of agony.Those poor souls weren't aware of the fact that their loving Amma is never going to return. But they kept waiting.

The darker side of society

Vasanti

Why we should always remain on the dark side, can't we stay with them? Can't we eat with them? Why can't they treat us like humans? We are not wild animals to be caged, we want freedom, we want life, we want our family back, we want our homes, we want to go to schools, we want to learn. It is a difficult period of our lives, it is necessary for us to earn our livelihood. That's why we left our family, but we are not your slaves, don't obstruct us, "Child labour" is an offence in India.

Eyes don’t lie

Naveen Rane

Are we visible to this world? Life is running so fast, but we are caged in the sorrow of poverty.Though our eyes see the bright sunlight but our future looks dark. Hope has it's limit and it's seems we have crossed the limit. Let's close our eyes and hope when we open it life is colourful and exciting.

In the news

Vikas

''But I want to see father.''
He said, as he ran to the door. But she reached there first and locked it. Next thing he did was to climb the stool and peek through the broken wall of their hut.
As she stood beside him, she saw her husband being dragged by the hair by naxalites and shot in the head along with four others. A TV anchor on news debate three days back was furiously defending the government's decision to withdraw arms provided to Selwa Judum by advocating it will put an end to violence in the region.

Haven't looked back

Srinivas Kondra

When I looked at them, they were looking at me. I pointed the gun at them. They're still looking at me.
I looked into my self.
I put my gun down.
When I looked back, they haven't changed their look.
They're looking straight into me, to the point. Just like my gun looks at.
I have seen many and shot them at first sight. But, I don't know.
I turned and shouted, "Nobody is here sir.”
I haven't looked back.

Staring into the future

Gaurav Aradhye

It's their routine. To stare into the future. They wake up at 5. Distribute newspapers door to door. And after doing a lot of hard work at "The Modern Garage" throughout the morning, when they get hungry, they grab some bread chutney and come here at the backside of the school. Through the slits, they look, they dream... of gathering enough money, of standing on the other side of the compound. Gnawing on the bread slowly, they pledge of not losing hope, every single day.

Freedom

Jignesh K. Patel

The marks and bruises on the faces & muddy hand tells the story about the battle fought between 2 guys and slavery. But as you see slavery wins; they both were beaten badly and pushed into the cottage with no ventilation, god knows how they will end up. But as you see eyes peeping out of window with a hope of freedom to see their family once again.

Through the Eyes of Closed Doors

Bharat Gupta

It's almost as if I could hear him in the silence. He longed to break free and see the world beyond the doors. We don't know what childhood means, we don't know what freedom feels like. This life chose us, these doors closed on us. 'Do you think people know we are here,' he asked me. 'The only one who knows we exist is God,' I replied. I wish they would see the pain in our eyes, I hope they would find us. And even if our childhood is over, I wish one day we would be free.

“What time is it?”

Urmilesh

It's been a while since my mother left to get some food. She told she would come back very soon. I could feel emotions shimmering, when I see bodies being dragged. I don’t know who these people are. They smell of unspoken burnt bridges of hope and love. Mother told us not to shout or go out. I am scared she will never come back. I am scared of waiting and praying with my eyes open. It’s getting dark. I have my sister’s silence for company and the agony of her unanswered question, “What time is it?”

The Other Side

Nirwa

They say the grass is greener on the other side.
They seem privileged, happy as they clink their glasses. The smell of biryani tears through their Calvin Klein fragrances making their mouths water.
But the make up covering their dark circles said another story.
The grass is greener on the side where sleep comes without medicines.
This is the other side.

The Deputy CEO

Apoorva

“What a surprise! How come you are home before me?”
“I drove home directly from the conference.”
“Nice, how was your presentation, Deputy CEO sahib?”
“Rocked it. The donation for refugee rehab will go a long way with the minister. Should get me to about 27% RAROC on the portfolio.”
“You think they want to play Cricket?”
“Are you serious, Naina? You want them to hold the same bat as Rohan?”
“Yes, and I will bowl some leg-spin.”

One World

Sugandha

Sagar and Samar were born joined at the torso, sharing vital organs. Brothers who would forever lead one life, one going where the other led. Their minds, however, were their own.
Through the window, Samar watched people outside. The neighbour’s girl crying, her face swollen again; women bickering; father coming home with his whiskey bottle; mother yelling, asking God what she had done to deserve this dysfunctional family.
Sagar watched the birds. Rain or sun, they went about their days singing, free from worries. Both pulled away with tears in their eyes, one’s heart soaring and the other’s sinking.

Innocence

Heema Joshi

“Lock the door quick, I’m in a hurry,” her boss said, dimming the lights of his cabin. He undressed her with such agility; it almost tore the nape of her shirt. An hour ago he discussed ‘Strategies to boost sales’ with his associates on the same couch where they laid right now panting. She caressed him for a while before getting dressed. Standing near his cabin’s blinders, she gazed far away with innocence in her eyes. She thought he loved her, that she was his special someone. Oblivion to the fact that his ‘special someone’ changed every week.

Wounded Freedom

Matilda Briggs

"One day, we'll be free like those birds," Sahir mused, as he peered with his sister out of a jaded bamboo curtain. "First, we have to load these pots with gun powder and fill rings. Otherwise, we will lose our daily wages!", Ameena sighed. With their scalding hands, they made a mixture of deadly chemicals that would be used to make fire crackers. That was her last memory of Sahir when she woke up in a hospital, battered. Sahir lay in an adjacent bed, dead and free at last.

Freedom

Salonee

"Water" she whispered, her five year old daughter clinging to her, as I quietly passed on a plastic pouch to her.
"You'll come next Friday won't you?" she pleaded, "I'll leave the bundle near the fourth pillar from the exit." I nodded. "Take care of her," she mumbled, her eyes brimming. Selaja wanted to ensure her daughter grew up to have a normal life; while she couldn't leave her husband and her people, struggling against the state for the freedom of her motherland. My story didn't win any prizes but I'd managed to win a child her freedom.

Box full of Slaves

Shivam Sharma

One plank after the other, they contained me.
They forced their norms and their beliefs.
Shut me into a box while I struggled to break free.
Slowly I got tired of fighting and gave in.
Thought as they thought, said what they said.
But my eyes are still open, I can see what they intend.
A box full of slaves and I'm one of them.

Long Live Childhood

Rohan Kachalia

The outsides had turned dark and so were they. While their insides had turned grey with fear of animals in the masks of humans, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of him. The night had eventually laid its cold blanket onto them. They quivered, unmoved, awaiting the signal. A loud thunder and they could see a ball of flame rising towards the sky.
He signalled to them. With trepidation in their eyes they walked forward, hands held tight.
“Don’t worry. You are safe.”
They smiled as the days of grey rose permanently to the sky.

Rays of Hope

Joju Rajan

"Visitors not allowed.”
Eight long years to read those words again.
For a crime, that he didn't do.
In a place, where he couldn't speak.
With a heart that wouldn't stop thinking of those eyes.
Waiting for him, pulling him through those eight years.
Those eyes, waiting, pleading, forlorn.
Watching the streets during the day.
Along with his son, his bundle of joy.
For the father, who never came.
For the friend, who never called.

A smile played across his lips.
A hope bloomed in his heart.
As he stepped out of the gate.
Freedom, at last!

It’s a work of fate

Madhavi Pujari

Two seemingly innocent pair of eyes peered from behind the blinds,over the newly opened fast food chain; located just opposite to their hovel. It was a stark remainder of their squalor.The fireworks factory where they toiled day in and day out, was their sole dwelling. They eked out a living by playing around with hazardous substances; their scalded hands bearing a witness to this fact. Waylaid and resigned to their fate, destiny had other plans when a German couple wished to adopt them; following the head honcho's arrest, convicted under the Child labor act.

Heartache

Vanessa Braganza

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” she screamed. At 12, she had a healthy pair of lungs, which she made maximum use of today. “Mujhe ghar jaanaa hai!” she whimpered; I want to go home and play!
“Ammi, Abbu, please take me with you!” she cried again.
Her helplessness stung her father’s heart. “Beta, you’ve locked yourself in… Unlatch the door and come out to us!” he tried again too. “PLEASE don’t do this to me!”
Ammi couldn’t look anymore. Shikha was always difficult when she lost her senses. Schizophrenia is a terrible illness for a mother to deal with.

I called him Jimmy

Akhil P.S.

Bound and gagged. I knew I was never going to see my parents again once these two get the ransom. They sat behind watching, taunting. I lost all hope. Far across the deserted field, I saw a pair of unfamiliar eyes looking at me. "Blink twice if you are being held against your will" I thought. I looked at him. From behind, a bottle hit my head. Pain. Tears in my eyes, I blinked. One, two. He charged, barking. Fought. At last, they ran.
Back home, safe.
I call him Jimmy now, my brother.

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