Once upon a time, water in abundance flowed in the river. People were happy. And then water started becoming less and less. Nobody knew the reason. Committees of wise men were constituted, but they had no answer to when the water would return. Nature is angry, said the less wise people. Government wanted to create jobs; so guards were appointed to prevent people from stealing scarce water. And then one day, water completely disappeared. Corrupt guards stay at home today and still draw their salaries. Except for that solitary guard..
There were five of us at the start of this 21-day journey in my quest for immortality. I needed them to carry my materials. Now we were only two. Other three had perished; strangled and crushed by the monstrous man-eating trees. I was safe because I wore the special tree-repelling bracelet. The man walking behind me will die any moment and I will stand alone to be irradiated by the light of immortality. I paused and turned to see if he was still alive. He was holding up my bracelet and there was a gleam in his eye..
The river told me this story.
The village elders had repeatedly warned her against falling in love with the outsider. But she was stubborn the way beautiful girls are. She badgered him to elope. He gave in reluctantly and arranged for the boat that would ferry them across the wide river. On the full moon night, the boatmanâ€™s greed turned into lust. He clubbed the man and ravished the girl.
The river looked at me beseechingly. My hand was steady as the knife dug into the boatmanâ€™s chest. As the water turned red, I woke up.
It was a complex case; complicated more than complex.
But the case had to be solved. There was a deadline. More than deadline, it was a question of reputation.
Solution lay in simplification; bringing the many parts together. All evidences were there in plenty; plenty of red herrings too.
And then the tea was brought in. He hadnâ€™t asked for it. He instinctively knew she had brewed it. It reminded him of the first time they had made love. The fullness of her body, the sweetness of her lips, the fragrance of her breasts. The solution was clear.
Why are we sitting miles apart, my love? Why donâ€™t we cuddle like them?
Like the couple behind us, my love.
Not in public, please. I will rather die!
Why not, my love? Why canâ€™t we do what they are doing?
Did you notice how that kid was ogling at them?
Yes, but now they have angled the umbrella smartly.
Yes, outsmarting the pervert kid!
Come closer now, my love! We too have an umbrella!
But it is straight!
Shall I exchange it with theirs, my love?
The far-fetched theories of alien abductions and malevolent magnetic fields made people uncomfortable. Nobody believed or rather nobody wanted to believe. Those who put forward such theories were scoffed at, even physically assaulted. Meanwhile young women continued to vanish mysteriously on every Friday. Finally a camera was mounted and clinching evidence of sorts was captured. But it wasnâ€™t conclusive because of the obscuring cyclist. He was identified and the investigation team decided to visit him and hear what he had to say. He was dead when they arrived at his home..
They came every year to the annual V-Day kissing competition; and they always won. But it was different this year; they had parted ways. The big prize money was tempting. The kiss was going to be difficult when there was no love lost. As the bell sounded she deftly placed a wad of gum between their lips. When the bell went off again, hours later, they were the only pair still kissing. They got the tinsel crowns, the goodies bag and the cheque. What happened to the gum, she asked. I ate it, he replied. .
Everybody around me was drunk; I pretended to be and added two more ice cubes into my glass. My picture had won the top prize and we were celebrating. They wanted to hear the story.
I described the technicalities â€“ light, filter, ISO. The monstrous wave came almost immediately. The man and the baby were gone. They gasped collectively.
The water rushed over me and I woke up. So, it was just a dream! The sigh of relief was as audible as the gasp.
Liar, hissed the woman next to me. You killed my husband and baby.
The taunts got worse each day. It corroded her soul. For no rhyme or reason they picked on her; only because she was an outsider. She tried to ignore the insults hurled at her; hoping that they would tire and stop one day. Today they had picked on her Bapu, her idol; her ideal. Her God! They had crossed the boundary. She started to run. And as she ran, she felt liberated. She knew what she had to do. She too must cross the boundary..
Everyone was surprised when they received the summons for the extraordinary meeting on a chilly morning. They were exactly hundred in number, members of the most snobbish walking club of the town. They had paid a large sum of money to have the privilege of jogging along the specially designed track. But many were either too busy or too ill to walk. But they all came this Sunday, curious to know the purpose. Tea and Samosas were served. The chairman stood up and began â€“ we are here to discuss the curious case of the missing second stake. .
The sunlight is mellow, but hurts his eyes. He waits for eventide.
Daylight gives him an identity, which he no longer needs. He waits for darkness to wrap its icy blanket around him.
The road is silent, but he craves for the hums of the night, which only his ears can pick up.
The night would get colder, but he is beyond numbness.
He waits for the branches to drip.
He waits for the nightfall, when the spirits will dance around him.
He is waiting when he can be himself again.
He is waiting.
The five were huddled around the oblong teakwood table, four grey-haired gentlemen and one redhead.
â€œThis last poster is intriguing! Wish I could see more of herâ€, said the oldest man with a knowledgeable wink.
â€œYou havenâ€™t grown up yetâ€, guffawed the three other men collectively.
The redhead gave them a cold stare.
The waiter brought in the 9th round of expresso.
â€œHer nonchalant walk stirs meâ€
â€œThe tattoo on her hand befuddles meâ€
â€œNo, itâ€™s the way her fingers curlâ€
â€œWhat makes you men think it is a she?â€
The men swallowed the coffee silently.
It was a sunny day on the idyllic island. A unique competition was in progress. The participants were plastic surgeons of repute. They had developed prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomy. They mixed up healthy women too in the topless parade. And men cycling past them had to tell the real ones from the make-believe. The competition was a success and they found a winner. But next day a surreptitiously shot picture made its way to the front pages of newspapers. And all hell broke loose. .
What is that?
How does it fly?
I donâ€™t see any.
They are wings of hope.
Is hope invisible?
Why canâ€™t I see it then?
Because it is not a real world.
But I want to see hope.
Step into the real world and you will see.
I have, but I still canâ€™t see it.
Suspend your disbelief.
I cannot do that.
Because my hope depends on belief.
And my success depends on your disbelief.
So, it is a real world?
No, reel world!
The mood was sombre and the faces were crestfallen. The Boss had summoned them for the path forward.
â€œHow can they ban?â€ A voice took courage to stoke their collective outrage.
â€œThe animal rights lobby is powerful.â€
â€œThey care only for animals.â€
â€œWho will feed my children?â€
â€œWe should protest.â€
â€œCandle light march!â€
â€œNo, that is only for the rich.â€
â€œLet us put our children in a mock fight.â€
â€œYes, what a splendid idea!â€
â€œWe will dress them up in fancy costumes.â€
â€œJust make sure, the sword is not realâ€, bellowed the Boss.
His eyes had a steely glint.
The component was super critical for the success of the clandestine mission. The boss trusted nobody with the design and drawing. Not even the robot that controlled the manufacturing process. Enemies and professional jealousies threatened to stymie the operation. So the robot was fed with the wrong program. Only the boss knew the right codes to be given at the last minute to the foreman, who owed personal loyalty. The auto mode on the robot would be disabled and the foreman will take over. But the robot has anticipated this and enslaved the foreman. .