Manoj kini 's Stories

The shadow

Why do they put pictures that drive you in towards one narrative? Maybe that's their way of flushing the needle out of the haystack. What do you mean? You find gold when you strike where it isn't already struck before. You are smart. So what have you got? The truth, with a twist. What do you mean? Harmony, a facade. They want you to focus on where you shouldn't be. Needle in the haystack, indeed. You drove the narrative. I just stayed back to look at the bigger picture. Still works. Always choose the background, don't you? It's peaceful. .

To each, their own

That song... I'm a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way... fits aptly here. Or maybe a drinking problem... *They said it was a solution to all problems. He wasn't bothered by it, he just wanted to forget his problems...* oh! A conspiracy theory would be the best take... A brewery scandal; sunken spirits wash ashore, liquor baron under scanner! "Are you done with taking pictures of that bottle yet? Teens today have no sense of responsibility. If you are old enough to drink, you are old enough to not litter. How hard is that!".


It had been a long day and a bit of writing always soothed him. As he stared at the image, he knew people would jump on the piling waste and alluring sea monsters. He wondered if they would see the picturesque landscape and soothing blues. Lost in thought, he gazed out through the balcony. Even the roaring city had now donned tranquillity and was at peace. They blamed it for causing the pollution. What about the explosion they were causing in the name of employment and business? The city was once peaceful too. He sighed at the revelation, signing off. .

Of mis-directions. And reality.

"Can you reposition one hand? It resembles a lotus. Good. We want to be seen as a nationalist, not politically inclined. The inclusion of the crow suggests lack of cleanliness. Bravo! This makes a perfect minimalistic campaign image." Elsewhere, she could hear the mildwaves whisper to her senses, their crashing on the shore and receding, like a rhythm... *caw-caw* the sun had set and dusk made the evening look like a blooming flower... *caw-caw* She opened her eyes and was back in the concrete jungle, amidst high rises, perched on one. "Drat! These crows!" she cursed, folding her mat..

The usual plot

"Nice shot there Sid! This will make a perfect cover shot for the campaign in print-media." "Thank you boss! Right to education is critical today. Charity begins at home, right?" The promotion was a massive success. Educating the next generation was going to bring in a massive paradigm shift, but that would take time. If change had to come in today, it was imperative to educate the older folks too; those that resist change today. I watched as my daughter accompanied her grandpa to school. He enjoyed her company and she, his. They would surely enjoy education this way..

Why suicide, you ask?

"One fine morning, they said the farmer is now owner of the land. Suddenly, he had an asset on his balance sheet, but no capital to support it. So they gave him loans. Come bad monsoons; he fails. A good one; he gets failed by the middleman. They offer him loan waivers, he fails further. Earlier, the risk was mine. Now he takes it upon himself. He is good in farming, not risk-management." His parting words, "I have filled your pocket enough for this month's issue. It's the villagers' turn now". The ex-zameendar continues to cater to farmer's interests. .

A tale in the past

"Tell me about this one. What was this about?" "Umm.. Learning the joy of sharing, a small sacrifice that said, in order to get something, you first have to give something." "In simple words, you gave up your tricycle. In exchange for what?" "Me. The shadow is my brother's. I was on the receiving side." "What story is he giving you now?" "This one was trying to show you in good light." "Was trying? You are supposed to be on my side. My better-half." "That I am. The better half." I laughed at that closing remark. To myself. Alone..

A misdirected tale

"They stood thus, without much movement, for the better part of an hour, before the feed conked. Both dead. The series they were seemingly staring at, changed places. Do you think it means something Sire?" Merlyn asked. "Seems like a ruse to throw us off-guard. Don't discount it yet though!" Malcolm said. I laughed as I saw a blaze of beacons blare away through the streets. The misdirection had worked. *He had never expected to call the number. Until now. "Malcolm here. The lie has been told. I repeat, The lie has been told!" his voice, barely a whisper now.*.

Just Another Avatar

"With leaps of advancement, human folk have come to term God a fiction. Yet, they follow this conman in me that speaks smoothly, giving false hope. How gullible advancement without guidance can be..." his journal read. "If lies could give you this status, imagine what transformation could do?" "Who are you? What are you blabbering about?" "In impersonating me, if you had taken a little time to know me, you would know." "You can't touch my status!" "I am no God. Only a means of reaching him," the man exposing the journal said, concluding the press-meet launching his ashram..

A dreamy submission

*Ancient myth says, "When the worthy tripatriate is offered on the sacrificial altar, the one performing the ritual would gain untold powers." You are one step away..* *Don't you think we need some negative spacing? I feel using two models works better. Let the third cell remain blank...* *The advance tax remitted will not be sufficient. Provision write-off issue. Remit the taxes and close it off. Also co-ordinate with the stock audit team. Today is the year end..* "Haven't you slept yet?" Files lay strewn and the screen read, "Your story has been successfully submitted." I drifted yet again. .

Beyond the wall

He loved the view he got there. Every day he picked a different spot to relieve himself. That way he got a new perspective and it also ensured the wall wasn't being weakened at the same spot. He was considerate that way. "Brace yourself against lonely men. They love fresh unprotected walls," somebody whispered. The next moment he found himself staring at a man walking towards him. He felt vulnerable and helpless as the man relieved himself all over him. He woke up perspiring. The government was building public toilets for a reason. He decided to start using them..

A short-lived tale

It was the season of migration. The young bird tried to keep up with its lot but being a first-timer, found it hard to keep up, and eventually lost its way. A layover and several days later when it finally managed to reach its flock, the bird-watchers found a new migrant with vibrant hues. The news spread and the sanctuary soon flooded with tourists. The flock found the attention enticing. They all visited the holy lake and drank the holy potion. Thanks to dumping of toxic-waste into water bodies, a whole species was now on the verge of extinction. .

The moirologist fuel

The moirologist trio was quick to find a foothold. Being deaf and dumb was a boon in their profession. It didn't place them in cross-hairs of the other side. It opened doors. Inter-family feuds ensured there was no off-season for deaths. The boldest plans were made as a promise to avenge the dead. Ear-pieces camouflaged as hearing-aids did the trick. It was the best intelligence asset that could be deployed to keep tabs on the desert-mafia. It was in their interest to keep the cross-border tension fuelled. Their economic over-dependency on the defence sector could never be openly acknowledged..

Beacon of hope

"It is well known that our perpetrator has neither resource nor capability to continually cause disturbance and lay claim to our land. There is no gain out of the said event, except for an additional burden to their already chaotic economy." "Can you cut to the chase please?" "It is the great-wall. The motive; CPEC." "I presume you have an action plan?" "Yes, Mr. PM. Our intelligence suggests the nucleus behind the masterplan is to visit the perpetrator. Neutralise the brain, and the body will stop functioning." "Give this man a flock. Let's hope you can prevent that war.".

Extended lunch break

"....I am no story-teller. Ask your dada. He spins stories like magic. I could never get enough of them..." "Is it another of your excuses to keep me at home? I have work to be done." "You know I can't win against you. Consider it your extended lunch break." My trick worked. Before long, he fell asleep. I can now finish his work for him and with a good excuse. Ever since his son left him, he wouldn't let us help him with anything. How can you not help someone who gave you your life, when you had lost it?.

Paid dreams

The investment banker had just finalised another round of funding and he had already picked his investment avenue. "Congratulations dad!! You can stop your pitch-reject cycle. I have news!" "Not in the mood for pranks kiddo." "Look! Your script is accepted for a pilot batch." "How can that be? I didn't even share my script." "I did. Your prologue sufficed. They believe in giving everybody a fair chance. If the pilot succeeds, you talk terms. If not, they move on." He paid for dreams now. And published them. Sometimes unfulfilled dreams go a long way in fulfilling others'..

Return to sender

Cleaning up his handiwork was consuming more time now. The awareness on the new mission ensured the five-six feet high dumps were now extinct. He missed riding towards random dumps, flinging his packages and seeing them lose their identity. As he used the receeding waves to get his ride moving, he made a note to raise his fee to cover his out-of-pocket expenses as well. To an onlooker, he was just another fisherman going on an overnight expedition. He hadn't factored in nature's policy. It never kept anything. The body would wash ashore; one piece at a time. .

The contractual obligation

It was the crown prince's birthday and the whole city was lit up like never before. A child had been born after decades of futility. A prince prophesied to eliminate evil. The elixir production was drying up fast, the last harvest preserved specially for the royal lineage. Anybody who could lay hands on any amount of it commanded a premium. The dockhouse by the river witnessed a hooded stranger, with one demand and an irresistible reward; de elixir. Banish the crown prince, let the younger one reign. Loyalty had been bought. It was business as usual. .

Reality check

"What?! The sand-demon is back again? And the king wants to visit the cursed temple for his fortnightly rituals. Thanks for the heads up. Can't let his highness find out his desert storm is being used for a side business!" "You heard the man. Ride is over, kids. Time to alight." Whew! Thank you sand-demon, Darwin thought as he got off. He could still feel the dread. "Inertia," he muttered. "What?" she said. "Drat! Nothing," he said, as he thought the things one did, to woo. He held the back-rest tight and closed his eyes, off to dream another exit..

By stealth

Another fishing boat had vanished forever off coast. Its sole occupant drifted ashore. Dead. It was the third such incident. All of them linked to influence of the spirits. Why else would someone venture out on a foggy night! June was sure something was amiss. She could swear she had seen something hit the boat just before it vanished. The radars showed nothing. Were there ships that could give the radars a slip? They said his death clouded her judgement. The next war wasn't going to be declared until it was too late. China was fast approaching. By stealth..

De simpleton-diaries

"All great men have a gripping story behind them. The only missing link in my greatness is the story." "Consider it done! We guarantee you, it will be worth every single penny!" "Now look away and can you pretend like you are thinking? Good." "We will add some infrastructure and landscaping in the background, as if you are conflicted between development and conservation. You could actually become famous. Err... find your story." He smiled as he walked away. His research was bearing fruits faster than his anticipation. People made mincemeat of any gullible person. The simpleton-diaries would be an interesting project. .

Lady of de mountain

"A pair of sweaters for my twin toddlers please." "Try these, Lady of de Mountain sweaters sir. They are hand made and the best in market." "The stitch pattern.... looks vaguely familiar." "Yes sir! It is a trademark stitch. Not found in any other brand, anywhere else in the world." "Ma'am, we have catered to two hundred and fifty thousand toddlers this quarter." "Thank you", she said as she went back to her ritual, at the place that gave her peace. As she began knitting, she hoped, maybe somewhere, her grandkids were feeling cosy and warm. .

Forced transformation

"Ma, why do we have to pray to the lord of dark room?" "Because, it is said, the pure souls with no prior bad karma get to experience the dark room, where, in due time, they will transform and attain salvation." "Isn't our life cycle quicker and easier?" "No! Now that you have been bathed in their holy pond, you will begin itching all over and the next thing you know you will look ready to be devoured, whether you are ready for it or not." "Why do we need to ungergo this?" "Because, it is business as usual.".

A fish-story!

Eric listened to all the short stories from his stranger friend, knowing very well, by the time he was home, he wouldn't remember them. "I have a memory like a goldfish," he confided to the stranger. "That makes a good fish-story," the stranger replied. He reeled in his rod to find a fish dangling. "Isn't this a good catch? My wife cooks them very well. Would you like to join us for food?" "I would love to, but I have to complete that fishy story and I have a deadline," the stranger replied. He asked, "What was it about again?"..

The Substrata Hypothesis

"You talk about murder and justice. Whose murder are you referring to? Your town only has a rare missing persons report." "Cover-up. Missing people murdered." "Assuming they were indeed murdered, what is the purpose behind it?" He had gotten away with his experiments for years, with meticulousness. This nosy reporter was beginning to sense irregularities. It was time to shut down his alter ego and resurface. He didn't have to go hunting for a new body. The prey had come to him. Nobody would believe his alter ego. He had been written off as a lunatic, a perfect cover..

De love spell potential

"Kuhn! You have been very keen on our family ever since you arrived. I don't even know how this thing works. Could you read the manual for me please?" "Let me see." He allowed himself a smile. It gave him a bolt-hole no foreign authority could penetrate. There would be no extradition from Brazil if he had an offspring by a Brazilian girl - even out of wedlock. He liked to organise his plan to the last bit. No loose ends. He would wreak havoc in Europe, and if the Soviet didn't welcome him as promised, Klien would disappear..

The habitation configuration

"Here is the image we made the day she brought Bella home. We had warned her then. It wasn't known in our community to bring home a being from another species. There were risks involved. We didn't know what it was capable of. She had always been the rebellious kind. Maybe if we persisted... Pray return the image once you are done. It is the only memory we have left." Somewhere in another part of the land, Bella had a new pet. A calf. .

A narrative. And some more.

"Ok class, for your today's assignment you have to write a narrative on this image." "...and she dreamt the tortoise who loved music, had turned into a three headed dog. Why, that was it! The missing character." "...the missing journal was key to the decryption. He missed his pipe. Darn it, Watson, he thought as he looked at the empty cup and scribbled some more." "Double your money! Double your money! Double or nothing! He said, fiddling with the coffee-mug that held the dice. The diary was his con ledger." She could now choose the best and submit it..

The monochrome journey

"You are getting better with time. I just love this image. If the monochrome is so rich and mesmerising, I wonder what effect the colours would have on me." "You will attend the show, won't you? You can witness it yourself." "You mean there is more in this series? Wow! ....I welcome one and all to this show titled, "The future is here: A monochrome journey. Because, the colours have long faded.".